Gaining Practical Experience

Gaining practical experience while a student and in the years following graduation will give you an edge in the job market. There are a variety of ways to do this:

  • Volunteering at a not-for-profit or public organization that will directly benefit your career plans. For example, someone who would like to work at an archive will benefit by volunteering in their community archive.
  • Practising the kinds of things you will do as a professional historian is also useful. As an undergraduate or graduate student, you may wish to write or edit student-run, peer-reviewed journals. You can also write historical articles for academic peer-reviewed publications with the advice of a professor or for community and popular media.
  • Exchange programs that take a student to other parts of the world and broaden their social, cultural, and political exposure can have a significant impact on the development of a student’s work and also provide practical experiences in ways that impress future employers. At UBC, Go Global is the place to look for help with this.
  • Language acquisition translates into valued practical skills that are useful in academic research and in a variety of careers in the public and private sectors. Language skills enable a student to work with particular documents, people, or cultures of interest, and a strong knowledge of multiple languages opens even more career opportunities.
  • Internships related to your career of choice are an opportunity that history students should explore further.
  • At UBC, undergraduate students can pursue the UBC Arts Co-op Program that partners with a diverse range of employers to offer work opportunities. This can help you excel in both academic and professional capacities, and prepare you for your future career. Students can also explore the Arts Internship Program which enables undergraduate Faculty of Arts students to develop their skills and expand their résumé with part-time, unpaid positions that offer meaningful, career-related experience within their communities.
  • Internships for graduate students can also involve funded research, such as those that have been completed through Canada’s Mitacs program. The Mitacs program that has increasingly funded social science students, including historians, to do research projects that benefit communities and contribute to the student’s practical work experience. To find out about local, regional or national internship programs, you may need to look beyond consulting faculty and staff in your department and inquire with the larger faculty or school that represents your department, or through an online search.
  • Tutoring is something that can enable undergraduate honours and graduate students to further their pedagogical skills and give them experience working one-on-one with students in exam and paper preparation.
  • Teaching and research assistantships at school enable graduate students to put these skills into practice while earning an income. Often these positions are necessary in order to fund graduate students.

All of these possibilities build practical experiences and a reputation for doing dedicated work as a historian. And of course this can extend to doing any type of career choice, including those outside of history.