Graduates with a degree in history pursue a wide range of careers in fields such as professional writing, law, business, communications, education, journalism, public policy, international affairs, medicine, non-profit, publishing, administration, and social work. The critical and creative skills developed through this major make it an ideal choice for students who want to be well prepared for the changing and flexible 21st century job.
Nathan Heiser, Assistant Marion County Prosecutor
Bachelor of Arts in History, 2011
Ohio State graduate Nathan Heiser credits a well-rounded liberal arts education at Ohio State Marion for providing the necessary tools in critical thinking, written, and oral communication that have helped him excel as an attorney.
Click here to read more...
With perhaps a quarter or two exception, Heiser attended Ohio State Marion from autumn of 2007 to summer of 2011. He completed the majority of his coursework in Marion so that his scholarship, which was specific to the Marion campus, would remain intact. Beginning in his second year of study, Heiser took at least one class on a different campus so that he could take the wide variety of courses that Ohio State offered.
Though he graduated from Ohio State in 2011, Heiser did not complete his education until 2015, earning a master’s degree in political science from Ohio University and a juris doctorate from Ohio Northern University. He practiced law independently from 2015 to 2016, and later worked as a staff attorney at the Third District Court of Appeals in Lima, OH in 2017. Heiser currently serves as an assistant Marion County prosecutor, where he has worked since December 2017.
According to Heiser, the skills nurtured by the study of history have helped him in many ways. “The first is that critical thinking is, well, critical,” said Heiser.
“It must also be coupled with the ability to explain one's positions to those who may well disagree,” he said, “and one must often do this with very little prep time.”
Admittedly, shared Heiser, the sorts of discussion that take place in a classroom are not quite a pressure-cooker in the way that a law school class or a courtroom can be, but it is a start.
“Critical thinking is itself necessary to good writing,” Heiser said. “That too is essential,” he added.
Heiser said, “I write often, and much of my writing requires me to synthesize many fairly complicated ideas over the course of anywhere from 15 to 25 pages in which I get to explain why I should win an appeal.”
“Doing this requires me to keep many parts of an analysis in my head but separate from one another, writing about each in turn. Failure to do this would leave the writing a jumbled mess,” said Heiser. “This is in addition to the fact that writing, even when I do it to explain ideas to other people,” added Heiser, “helps me learn too. In some sense, all of these ideas would be important is a whole host of legal vocations.”
Heiser has written both criminal and civil appellate briefs for cases ranging from Children's Services to adult felonies. He has also advised local agencies on matters of general civil law when the need arises.
“I think the principal value of a history degree to my current work is that it both taught and forced me to (1) organize my thoughts and (2) to put them to paper in a way that made them understandable to those who needed to understand them,” said Heiser.
“Along similar lines,” he added, “anything that nurtures quick wits is useful in a courtroom, and of course there are ways to run a history class that very much accomplish this.”
“I utilize my critical thinking skills and writing skills all the time,” said Heiser. “I could not do what I do in their absence.
"I spend a great deal of time explaining what words and concepts mean in a legal brief before I even begin to talk about the facts of the case I'm working on,” he said, “and the abilities to reason by analogy and argue in the alternative are absolutely necessary to my daily existence.”
Overall, Heiser believed that earning his undergraduate degree from Ohio State was useful in terms of how it has made him marketable,
“I would say that a well-rounded liberal arts education is something that makes people in general more worldly,” Heiser said. “That is a good attribute with which to surround oneself. It is a good thing to have in an office, at a school, etc.”
“The ability to interact with and talk to human beings is a dying art in an age of emojis and Youtube, and the critical thinking and social skills implicitly necessary in a history program are, I think, more interesting and more broadly useful than the more black-and-white thinking that hard sciences seem to impart,” he said.
Heiser emphasized that history, by definition, becomes a bigger part of our world every day as more and more of the world becomes history with the passage of time. Thus, each passing day brings more to study and more ways in which we can relate to history by understanding how it brought us to where we presently are.
“In some sense, the whole legal profession of law is heavily historical,” said Heiser. “It's ancient, but it affects us all the time."
In terms of what he learned from Ohio State Marion faculty, Heiser felt he picked up the important skill of communicating his ideas effectively in both oral and written form. “I would have to say that I came in as a good writer,” said Heiser, “and yet having my work critiqued and handed back to me all marked up was a real growth opportunity.”
He said, “it is valuable to be around people who make people better writers and better thinkers and better students owing to their own high standards for what is possible and what is expected."
Gretchen Williams, American Government Teacher at Kenton Ridge High School
Bachelor of Arts in History, 2012
Earning her Bachelor of Arts in History from The Ohio State University at Marion has prepared lifelong learner and Kenton Ridge High School government teacher Gretchen Williams for multiple educational and career accomplishments since graduating in 2012.
Click here to read more...
Before obtaining this career position, she worked and continued to pursue her education, gaining crucial knowledge in her field, and building superior soft skills like communication and teamwork that has helped her excel in her chosen career. Before she graduated from her master’s program, Williams worked in retail sales and was a substitute teacher for 6 months before obtaining a teaching job.
“The skills I gained while in the classroom enabled me to complete multiple tasks while communicating clearly and working well with my fellow co-workers.”
“My history degree from Ohio State allowed me to easily transition into graduate level classes that focused on classroom instruction and utilization,” she said.
Williams obtained her teaching license through Ashland University and received her grade 7-12 Integrated Social Studies License. She just completed her seventh year as a teacher.
“The biggest thing I learned was perseverance,” said Williams. “If you don't understand something, don't give up. Just like tackling complicated primary sources, you will never learn what the writer intended if you don't dive deeper and look for the clues. It will become easier with time and you will learn a lot about perspective and yourself in the process.”
Her degree also enabled her to return to Ashland University for a second time, this time completing her master's in a specialized area, American history and American government.
“Using the skills I learned about analyzing primary sources and creating healthy study habits has made my transition back into the graduate school world much easier,” Williams shared.
Once completed, Williams will be able to teach college credit classes in the high school setting.
“With this, I will help my students be able to obtain their associates degree when they graduate high school,” she explained.
The skills utilized in her daily job, such as communication, organizational, leadership, computer, (Google Classroom, various school related websites and tools) conflict resolution, collaboration, empathy, perseverance, and humor, were all skills she sharpened throughout her education.
Williams felt that her Ohio State degree in history helped prepare her for not only graduate school, but career success after her master’s degree completion.
“The ability to analyze primary and secondary sources, communicating abstract or difficult concepts into clear and manageable works,” said Williams, "allows my students to understand the true meaning of a text or time period.”
Collaborating with classmates and now students in engaging, thought-provoking, and meaningful lessons, were also a direct result of her time at Ohio State Marion, said Williams.
“Promotion of inclusiveness and the genuine care professors have for their students and their success has helped me empower my students to follow their dreams and be successful in and out of the classroom,” she said.
Additionally, Williams credits her undergraduate degree for, “helping my students reach and surpass their End of Course testing requirements from the State of Ohio.”
“I really benefited from the small, intimate class sizes,” Williams said. “I felt comfortable learning new materials and taking risks within the learning process.”
Williams said, “Ohio State Marion professors genuinely care for you and push you to be the best student you can. I, still to this day, keep in contact with my undergraduate professors and seek their advice and guidance.”
According to Williams, even after graduating, the faculty at Ohio State Marion continued to help her open new doors and push her to try new things, such as applying for James Madison Fellowship. The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation offers $24,000 James Madison Graduate Fellowships to individuals desiring to become outstanding teachers of the American Constitution at the secondary school level.
“History isn't an easy major," Williams shared, "but an extremely rewarding one."
Williams also indicated that she would highly recommend Ohio State Marion for its staff, facilities, environment, and learning.
“Even if you don't choose an education path after you graduate,” said Williams, “the skills you develop at Ohio State Marion can be used in any field and can have a lasting impact on your life, such as: preservation of national and local history, being a good citizen, looking at a situation in its entirety (both sides, majority and minority), analyzing complex writings and discerning the true meaning of its author, and stepping out of your comfort zone to learn about someone or something different than you.”
Matthew Brandt, Operations Supervisor, CEVA Logisitics
Bachelor of Arts in History, 2016
Matthew Brandt graduated college with six years military experience, seven years retail management experience and a history degree from The Ohio State University. After obtaining his degree and entering the job market, Brandt’s degree skills immediately began paying dividends.
Click here to read more...
Beginning as a part-time student in 2012, Brandt started and completed all four years of his Bachelor of Arts degree in History on the Marion campus.
According to Brandt, the history degree initially had that “curiosity factor” he was searching for.
“Obtaining a traditional education like history is a little exotic in the current job market,” Brandt shared. “Once you land your interview, the ability to communicate and argue your value to the recruiter is one of your most marketable skills from history post-graduation,” he said.
Brandt now works as an operations supervisor at MAP Yard CEVA Logistics, a global logistics and supply chain company in both freight management and contract logistics located in Maysville, Ohio. Brandt is currently responsible for second shift operations, in the trailer yard and transportation gates.
“Our operation is part of a multimillion dollar contact with almost 40 direct and indirect reports,” he said.
Brandt admitted that he didn’t foresee his career path taking him where it has. With a history degree, he was able to learn and effectively use skills such as: critical thinking, communication, research process, logical analysis, and the ability to argue and persuade based on data and facts. All of these skills are used in his current career, “to adapt to the challenges he faces as an operations supervisor each day,” he said.
“I attribute the career path I’m currently on 100% to my history education as its foundation.”
Brandt is now pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration with the goal to become a director in his field.
“Throughout the history program, you’re going to get exposure to social, philosophical, economic, and even radical viewpoints that will spark your curiosity and force you to do something that seems to have lost its appeal in modern society,” said Brandt, “to think.”
Brandt said, “history at the college level is not memorizing dates, people, and events like you did in high school. College-level history is about the “how” and the “why” these historical events occurred.”
Due to his success within the history degree program, Brandt felt he learned to become a clearer and more concise communicator. He also shared that he gained the ability to argue a position with logic and reason, an important piece to the history curriculum.
“Not everyone can critically analyze with historical context and explain to others why they believe an event happened in history, and the effects it would have to follow,” said Brandt. “The skills you learn while going through the history program at Ohio State Marion are universally valuable in life and your career path,” he added.
Brandt said, “History is a degree that will prepare you to find yourself and prepare you for whatever career you find yourself in.”