By Jeff Harrison
I entered Hope College in 2008 and graduated in 2012. I enrolled in a Civil War course taught by Professor Fred Johnson my first semester, loved the discussions I had with my peers in that class, and knew I wanted to major in history from there on out. As a side note, I recently traveled to Austin, Texas for work and got a beer with a friend I met in that class!
I work in sales at a cybersecurity company in Ann Arbor, MI called Duo Security. Although I did not pursue a career specific to my history degree, I am very glad I studied history at Hope. I made some great friends while involved with Phi Alpha Theta and the program opened doors for good internships at museums in Holland and Grand Rapids as a student. These internships were a great way to learn outside of the classroom and helped prepared me for my career after college.
I remember the grading rubrics in my history classes being very focused on writing, communication and critical thinking skills. There was a learning curve when I first started the program. By the time I graduated and entered the “real world,” I was very confident in my writing and overall ability to communicate with others via email, LinkedIn, presentations, proposals etc. Communication is “key” in the workplace: teams and individuals that can communicate well with others, no matter what field of business, are more successful than those that cannot. It seems like whenever I hear about an issue in the office it stems from poor communication between employees, clients or both. Potential customers aren’t impressed by someone whose writing sounds juvenile.
Hope’s history program fine-tuned the skills I need to work well with others in a professional setting. Drafting and reviewing papers taught me a lot about writing style and grammar. Team projects, “mock debates” and discussions we held in class were good practice for presenting ideas and articulating the thought processes behind them. This expertise is used on a daily basis in my sales role.
I encourage you to check out the Phi Alpha Theta organization and the department’s internship opportunities if you’re unsure about whether or not a history major is right for you. The professors are great and the smaller department’s personal touch prepares you for what follows your time at Hope!
- Jeff Harrison