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Job Hunting With a Trinity History Degree

By: James Barrett (IDP, History, ’17)
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Job hunting is the worst. I don’t think it is going too far out on a limb to say that there is nothing good about it (other than the possible euphoria one feels when they actually get a job, I’ll let you know if that’s the case when I get there.) For the last several months I have been applying for full-time teaching jobs at independent high schools. Writing cover letters, personal statements, and teaching philosophies have become second nature at this point. While the education field and different schools, in general, have their own application procedures, there are certain skills that I have learned through being a Trinity history student that have helped me immensely (I can’t say they have helped me land a teaching job yet, but I remain confident they will eventually.)

Trinity’s history department teaches students to be detectives. Historical research is not dissimilar from solving a puzzle. A name, a place, an event, all of these can be clues in one document that may lead to another. Slowly, an adept history student will uncover information that can lead to many discoveries. Developing these research skills is essential for success at Trinity, but they also translate to the world of job hunting as well. One of the key skills to getting your foot in the door is to write a clear, concise cover letter depicting not just your interest in the job, but also wooing potential employers by explaining how your skills will match their needs. Good research can mean the difference between getting called for an interview and having your cover letter passed over. It is important to know what the employer is looking for, but it is also important to know what the environment of the workplace is. The only way to find these answers is by doing research. If you are fortunate enough to land an interview, the inevitable question, “why do you want to work at….?” will most likely come up. Although many internet memes answer this question with the much more practical answers, it is still good to have something to say that will make you stand out. Trinity history students will inevitably have a leg up on the competition in this regard based simply on the way they have been trained to dig deep for original research. In saying something that stands out about the company or in my case school helps a great deal.

There is much to be said about having learned these research skills over the last four years. Job hunting is where these skills are being utilized now, but hopefully in the future with some luck, I will be passing on some of what I know to my own students.

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