University of Portsmouth's History Blog

A History degree can open many doors II: A student interviews UoP History graduates

In this blog Archie Godden, recent History with American Studies graduate from Portsmouth, discusses a project he undertook as part of the second year module, ‘Working with the Past’. Archie and some of his fellow students interviewed recent UoP History graduates and asked them about their careers since graduating, Archie found out that having a degree in the Arts and Humanities has been really beneficial to them, something also highlighted in recent studies by organisations such as the British Academy, which Archie also discusses here. The module ‘Working with the Past’ is coordinated by Dr Mike Esbester.

A History degree offers the potential for a vast range of jobs, so whether or not you know what you want to do in the future, a degree in History is a great choice to make yourself highly employable. Not only does a Humanities degree grant you access to an extensive list of jobs and the flexibility to move between them, but also gives you the skills needed to be a highly employable individual. This employability is only expected to increase in the future, as current world issues will change the job market to demand new skills. Out of ten of the highest valued skills for the future, the University of Portsmouth’s History degree already offers nine, with the possibility of more in the future. Therefore, the course is extremely advantageous both now and in the future for making you more employable and granting access to a wide range of opportunities. We interviewed four previous students of the UoP History degree about their current careers to demonstrate just a few examples of what can be achieved.

Firstly, we interviewed Cathryn, who works as an assistant to a Member of Parliament, working in his constituency office.  On a day to day basis, Cathryn processes things like casework; replying to queries, organising constituency events and meeting local organisations and schools to bridge the gap between the MP and the constituency. She explains that she didn’t know what she wanted to do whilst on the History course, and being an assistant to an MP was something she had never even considered before it came up. However, the skills she gained from studying a History degree allowed her to apply for and be granted the job. She also outlines the other pathways that were available to her, such as opportunities in law through taking a conversion course. She would recommend the History course for, “preparing you for the world of work with a broad spectrum of skills”, both supplying students with a range of choices of occupation and the appropriate skills to secure such jobs.

Next, we interviewed Chloe, who works as the Records Manager and Policy Officer for the Falklands Islands government. Chloe supports the management of all government records; adding records to the database and writing new guidance policies completely from scratch. Additionally, she designs storage facilities for holding records and develops the government’s electronic records and much more on a daily basis. The History course, “enhanced a variety of skills”, that allow her to complete such a broad range of tasks. The opportunities provided by the university, as well as local experience in Portsmouth, provided Chloe with the skill set and experience to excel in her field. She remarks that a History degree makes graduates well-rounded and that just among her cohort, students went into vastly different jobs, such as an administrator in the Houses of Parliament, a History teacher and herself, an archivist.

Melissa works on the NHS Graduate Scheme and, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, worked as Project Manager at a vaccination centre. On a daily basis, she ensured that health and safety checks were undertaken, contracts were completed as well as making sure the vaccine was ordered properly. She explains that during her course she had no idea what career to go into. However, a University Careers Fair revealed an opportunity in the NHS, demonstrating that History could lead her to a more analytical role which better suited her. “History opens so many doors” and provided her a lifeline to get into the position she is in today, despite not initially applying for the course. Originally, she wanted to do a Sports Science degree. However, she describes how a History degree got her into a better position as she began to lose interest in the sport side. Chloe’s advice to students would be to, “look for any and all opportunities and when they come, just take them”, as History can lead to any kind of job route, even those you don’t expect or may be unaware of, as in her case.

Finally, we interviewed Rebecca, a curator at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth. Every day, Rebecca is involved in both the care and management of the collection, ensuring it is catalogued correctly, checking for pests, and interpreting it for visitors through means such as galleries and research visits. After graduating, Rebecca also completed a Master’s degree in Museum Studies, which is needed (or an equivalent qualification) to get into the role and is an example of another option for students who want to remain in education after their initial course. Rebecca explains how she had a very clear idea that this was the profession to which she aspired. Nonetheless, the History course provided a wide variety of careers opportunities. She recommends gaining as much experience as possible, which can help in both finding a career path you may enjoy, as well as aiding with standing out in future applications to jobs. Additionally, she reveals that with the changes the global pandemic has made to careers worldwide, the adaptability and skills that came with the course have aided in transferring to a new way of working.

Overall, the interviewees prove that there are an extremely wide range of careers available to anyone who studies a History degree; from museum curator to working in the NHS Graduate Scheme. A report by The British Academy suggests that in the future a growing, “range of sectors across the economy”, will need people with Humanities degrees. History provides much needed skills for employment, as well as greater flexibility and choice of work. In the future, this will only grow more as the impact of the pandemic sees, “local economies growing their creative industries employment twice as fast as other sectors”. History is an excellent subject to take regardless whether you have a clear career choice in mind or not, due to the wealth of opportunities it throws open, and Portsmouth is a great place to do it!


“Qualified for the Future”, The British Academy, https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/documents/1888/Qualified-for-the-Future-Quantifying-demand-for-arts-humanities-social-science-skills.pdf

Reidy, Tess. “Arts graduates are flexible’: why humanities degrees are making a comeback”. The Guardian.https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/feb/16/why-humanities-degrees-are-making-a-comeback. Last accessed 30/03/2021.


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