History Conversations Panel Discusses Career Paths

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On April 5, the history department hosted a History Conversations panel during which students and alumni discussed possible career trajectories.

Carrie Blackmore ’08, Morgan Nevins ’10, Sohee Ryuk ’15, and Jack Schnettler ’15 each shared how their history degrees helped shape distinctive professional experiences. Although the alumni all chose different careers — from the Peace Corps to entrepreneurship — the commonality between them was clear: a Colgate University education opens up a world of opportunity.

Nevins, a history and peace and conflict studies double major is now pursuing a master’s at Columbia University. After fostering her, “interest in human rights and social justice work at Colgate,” she traveled to Mozambique for a two-year assignment as a community health volunteer with the Peace Corps. She then continued to support community-focused operations in Mozambique after joining JHPIEGO, a global nonprofit health organization. Following graduate school, Nevins hopes to continue international work while engaging with social work on a domestic level.

Blackmore shared her experience in using her history degree to start her business, Good Nature Brewery. After being involved in Outdoor Education and majoring in history, she combined her knowledge of sustainable practices with her analytical skills to understand market trends, draft informed business plans, and create a brand campaign for her product. Her entrepreneurial spirit helped her apply the concept of “farm-to-glass” ingredients when opening Madison County’s first brewery. “The hard work that you go through as a history major,” said Blackmore, “directly translates to being a business owner.”

As a Thomas J. Watson fellow, Ryuk traveled throughout the former Soviet Union as part of a yearlong self-designed research project on ethnic Koreans in the region. During her presentation to Colgate students, she noted that the research questions she explored throughout her post-graduate Watson work sprouted during her undergraduate career as a history and psychology double major. These same questions led her to pursue a PhD at Columbia University, where she’s currently studying. “The foundational ways I learned to ask questions were honed here at Colgate,” she said.

Schnettler applied his research and communication skills while working as an intern and legislative correspondent in the U.S. Senate. The history and international relations double major credits his Colgate education as a factor that helped him confidently traverse through the early years of his professional career. He is now a graduate student at Harvard University’s Kennedy School.

According to Robert Nemes, chair of the Department of History and professor of history, students in the process of deciding on a major can look forward to global-focused courses, including Darfur in Historical Perspective and Cities of the Silk Road, while knowing their post-graduate options are far reaching.

“History students use their strong research and writing skills in many professions: some teach, others go on to grad school — in history, but also in law, public policy, and historic preservation — and still others work for non-profits and the government,” said Nemes. “At the same time, many history majors get jobs in marketing, consulting, and finance. A history degree opens a lot of doors.”