Today’s post comes to us from Nick Linville (BA 2003, MA 2004), who works for a cultural resource management company called SEARCH (Southeastern Archaeological Research, Inc.).   Nick offers a great answer to an age old question:

What Are You Going to Do With a Degree in History?

by Nick Linville, SEARCH

Nick at work in the National Archives

“What are you going to do with a degree in history?”  I can’t tell you how many times I heard that question when I was completing my bachelor’s and, later, master’s degrees in history at the University of Florida in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  For quite some time, I did not have an answer.  I learned to reply with “I can teach or go to law school.”  Though noble paths, neither of them was particularly attractive to me.  Nevertheless, my instinct told me to stick with the coursework that excited and challenged me.  In time, my perseverance led to a fulfilling career as a historian.

Nearly ten years ago, I entered the field of cultural resource management.  Although the field is not widely known, the industry plays a very important role in determining the fate of prehistoric and historic sites worldwide.  Comprised of archaeologists, ethnographers, museums specialists, archivists, cartographers, and historians like myself, cultural resource management firms provide consulting services to clients who are in need of expertise in dealing with sites of cultural significance.  These clients include government agencies, private developers, transportation departments, engineering firms, and military planners.

I am fortunate to be part of Southeastern Archaeological Research, Inc., a company that has a worldwide presence in the field of cultural resource management.  Due to the diversity of our clientele, my work as a historian has required me to research a variety of time periods, people, places, and events.  I have searched for documentary evidence of overseas World War II-era aircraft losses at the National Archives, examined eighteenth century port records to assist in identifying a Delaware River shipwreck in Philadelphia, and conducted oral history interviews with retired Navy officers in Texas.  However, some of my most memorable discoveries have been found in the record collections of county courthouses, local historical societies, private individuals, and military public works departments.

My education in history at the University of Florida laid the foundation for this fulfilling journey of the last ten years.  While I was a student, I learned from some of the most accomplished, inspiring, and challenging professors in academia.  They taught me that history was more than simply remembering dates, names, and the definition of bold-print words in textbooks.  They taught me how to write better, how to conduct advanced research, how to find meaning in the smallest shreds of evidence, and how to digest abundant and often conflicting information.  These skills have served me well in my career and they undoubtedly are a great asset to any career.  Some of my former classmates have landed careers in teaching and law, naturally, while others have succeeded as grant writers, school administrators, social workers, and business owners.  If you have a passion for history, stick with it.  You will find yourself at the forefront of many exciting opportunities.