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Symposium, career fair to explore job opportunities for humanities scholars

By BERT GAMBINI

Published April 17, 2017

“The number of traditional tenure-track jobs in the humanities is limited, and we want to offer students a chance to learn about the wide range of careers that our alumni have made for themselves.”
Kristin Stapleton, associate professor
Department of History

Franklin Odo, founding director of the Asian Pacific American Center in the Smithsonian Institution and the John J. McCloy ’16 Professor of American Institutions and International Diplomacy at Amherst College, will deliver the keynote address at “Humanities Beyond the Academy,” a UB symposium taking place on April 22.

The free event, to be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in 120 Clemens Hall, North Campus, will explore diverse career opportunities for humanities graduates beyond positions at colleges and universities.

The symposium will feature two sets of roundtable discussions with UB alumni who have built rewarding careers outside of the academy and includes a career fair with representatives from local organizations that employ or offer internships for people with advanced degrees in the humanities.

A complete list of topics and participants is available online. The event, which includes lunch, is open to the public, but organizers ask that guests register for the event.

“This started out as our response to the American Historical Association’s (AHA) call to help students think about the skills they gain in the course of graduate studies in the humanities and how they might make use of those skills in a range of careers,” says Kristin Stapleton, associate professor in the Department of History and a member of the symposium’s organizing committee. “The number of traditional tenure-track jobs in the humanities is limited, and we want to offer students a chance to learn about the wide range of careers that our alumni have made for themselves.”

The AHA had asked history departments to suggest activities centered on career diversity. Stapleton mentioned this at a graduate committee meeting and a student representative, David Strittmatter, immediately embraced the idea. With the help of a matching grant from the AHA, he drafted a two-part proposal, according to Stapleton.

“The first part is having an event where our alums who have found careers outside of the academy and outside of university teaching come back to talk about their careers,” she says. “How did they find this path? What is exciting about it? How would they have prepared differently if they knew this career was available to them?”

The second part of Strittmatter’s proposal provided stipends for what would otherwise be unpaid internships that history graduate students obtained. The stipends would allow students to earn income in a relevant field without having to simply find a job that would help pay the bills.

The history department is using half of the AHA matching grant to fund the stipends and the other half to present the symposium.

“We’re thinking this symposium in particular will draw out people who have been through graduate programs, but then worked beyond the academy, to demonstrate what kind of transferable skills they were able to develop in graduate school, but also discussing which skills they wish they had,” Stapleton says.

In addition to support from the AHA and the Department of History, the symposium is also made possible by the SUNY Excels Professional Pathways Project.