What our alumni are saying...
"I majored in History at Notre Dame because it offered a wide variety of topics, time periods, and perspectives to study. My undergraduate experience in the liberal arts prepared me with the research, writing, critical thinking, and analysis skills that are paramount to the work I do today. I work for Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm, in support of a government client. I am responsible for writing analytic products (similar to college essays, no more than 10 pages) integrating information from many different sources of varying reliability and bias into one clear, focused, actionable argument that is timely and relevant for the policy maker and the war fighter. One of the most important things a good historian does is to identify potential biases (or perspectives, whatever we're calling them these days) that may affect the credibility or reliability of the source, and we account for that by including additional context in the argument. This is always a challenge, particularly with so many different sources of information (e.g., a blog entry, several news articles in several languages, only one from someone who was actually there, a book, a database, and previous analysis), but a good analyst (I like to think that I am one) is able to use differences to make the argument stronger. Since I started with Booz Allen, I have focused on developing my skills at logical reasoning: like Ikea furniture, the goal is to construct an argument that contains all the relevant (but only the necessary) pieces, and to structure it so that they only fit together one way, leaving the reader with no choice but the conclusion you've drawn for them. Creativity is also vital to what I do. Information and events may seem to point to one conclusion, but what are other possibilities? Anyone can gather information and compute the most likely result, but it takes an open mind capable of asking difficult (not the obvious) questions and exploring context to come up with good, useful analysis.
"Booz Allen Hamilton wanted me because of my extensive experience researching and writing. In addition to my coursework as a history major at ND, I wrote an honors thesis about a family's experience of the Civil War based on their personal correspondence, and after graduation I spent several months as a graduate assistant to the curator at ND's Hesburgh Library Rare Books and Special Collections, researching and cataloging new material. I studied a few languages during my time at ND and I spent a semester studying in France, both of which were valuable cultural experiences and certainly taught me a lot about trying to understand words or events in the context of a particular culture. In the end, your undergraduate degree is exactly what you make of it. The liberal arts disciplines, studied with passion and rigor, teaches fundamental tools for researching, writing, and critical thinking. I would encourage anyone with a passion for events and people to learn how to read and write history. Analysis, writing, presenting, arguing, logic- these are skills that any successful person needs, no matter what career they pursue. The history major, and other liberal arts disciplines at ND, teach you the process for creative and productive reasoning. No matter what major you pick, if you can spend your time at ND learning these skills you will be adequately prepared for the next step after graduation. For me, it's the early stages of a career writing analytic papers. I love my first job. How many graduates can say that?"
- Amy Holt (Class of 2010)
"I was drawn to the history major because of an interest in the analysis of change--the causes that lead to major historical events and their effects--not so much specific facts or figures. Business, engineering, and architecture all prepare students for specific fields that require a specific skill set. I appreciate my two College of Arts and Letters majors because they taught a broader spectrum of skills applicable to multiple career paths. The history major is a major in intellectual resourcefulness and it fosters communication and analytical competencies that give you an edge in the real world."
- Colin Rich (Class of 2011)
"I've always been interested in international development and government relations. I'm working in a research position with an international focus, which will allow me to continue using the skills I developed as a history major while working with different government organizations and learning from experts in these fields."
- Stephanie Mulhern (Class of 2011)
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