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  • History and Political Science Majors: Classroom to Career

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    The word "graduation" can strike fear—or at least apprehension—into the hearts of undergraduates. You may be happy to finish your studies but nervous about throwing yourself at the mercy of job market. Will you find a job you like? And will any company even want to hire you?

    Don't worry. History and political science majors are well–equipped to succeed in nearly any profession. The great advantage of your degree is the broad skill set it creates. Most employers don't expect you to be an expert in any field; instead, they look for sharp people who can learn quickly, communicate well and think critically and creatively. You have those skills; now you just need to know how to talk about them.

    Here's how you can describe your skills and turn them into quantifiable experiences for your resume:

    You write like Rousseau or Herodotus.

    You've spent four years turning your thoughts into clearly–written, well–structured essays. As a veteran keyboard–pounder, you may be thinking, "Doesn't everyone write well?" The answer is no. A survey of executives from 120 major American corporations cited writing as one of the most neglected skills in the business world. Even if you're not going into business, someone who writes well is bound to stand out.

    Develop this skill outside the classroom:

    • Take a job with your campus newspaper. Penning articles or editorials will allow you to practice writing for a wide audience (rather than a single professor).
    • Find a summer internship that involves writing. There are many opportunities for undergrads with a gift for language, from speech–writing for a politician to developing promotional spots for a local radio station. 
    • Tutoring a younger or foreign exchange student in English will strengthen your own writing skills, as well as your ability to communicate difficult concepts. 

    You are an experienced project manager.

    You're used to coming up with a great idea for a project or a paper, then researching and analyzing the information you find and creating a compelling final product. To employers, this shows that you can set goals, manage your own time and create high–quality work without direct supervision. Having the skills to manage a project means you're not just a paper–pusher, you're the guy or gal everyone relies on to tackle the big jobs.

    Develop this skill outside the classroom:

    • Organize a community service project. Get together a group of your friends to participate in Habitat for Humanity or oversee a fundraising drive for charity.
    • Run for a leadership position on your sports team or campus club. Good project managers know how to lead and inspire others. 
    • Volunteer to oversee important projects at your campus or summer job. Your hard work will pay off when you list your accomplishments on your resume.

    You are a curious and enthusiastic learner.

    Employers need to trust that you will safeguard and enhance the company's image. The intellectual curiosity you have developed as a history or political science student means that you can carry on an intelligent conversation with clients, colleagues and competitors. More importantly, your inquisitive background shows employers that you'll learn all you can about the industry you're entering and seek out innovative ways of doing things on the job.

    Develop this skill outside (and inside) the classroom:

    • Find a campus club or hobby unrelated to your major. Studying politics but love cartoons? Join the anime club! Have a passion for French but no time to study it? Check out the conversation table in the cafeteria.
    • Take your senior thesis seriously. Explore a hitherto unexplored topic that you're passionate about and will be excited to discuss in a job interview. 
    • Read for pleasure! Picking up a non–assigned novel or biography now and then will show that you're well–rounded and have something to talk about besides your GPA.

    Employers know that history and political science majors have a lot to offer. If you're aware of your strengths and know how to sell them, you'll be well on your way to a great job.

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