Are you using your degree?

That is a question I get asked more often than I thought would happen.

My major in college was history. Many people asked me what plans I had once I was done with my undergrad work. “Will you go on to get your master’s?” “Ph.D.?” “Law school?” “What does one do with a history degree other than teach?” Now, when people find out I was a history major, they ask, “Oh! Where do you teach?”

I don’t do any of the above. Well, then what good was the history degree? Quite a bit good actually. I use my degree frequently in my work. And what does that work entail? Writing.

One component of my work is writing a document called a “case statement,” “case for support” or “case prospectus.” It is used by non-profit organizations as a persuasive document provided to their constituency to explain a project for which they wish to raise funds and to persuade them to support it financially and volunteer their time. The case statement gives a brief history of the organization, how they got to where they are, why they want to keep going, what their project is, why they need the project completed and to seek support.

Being a history major required a lot of reading, analysis of that reading, discerning what was important information, research and responding to the information through the written word with clarity and precision. Writing a case for support requires the same thing.

I am happy to say my educational process, and especially the history components of that education, have helped me become a much better writer and researcher; therefore better in my work.

Do you use your degree?

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8 thoughts on “Are you using your degree?

  1. Wow…I wish I had a degree in Latin…very cool. My degree is in Chemistry. For 17 years I worked in a chemistry lab in the Veterinary Pharmaceutical industry or managed one but for the last, well we won’t go into how many more years it has been–suffice it to say I am no spring chicken, I haven’t used it as much but I use the actual chemistry stuff several times a week in my work in Quality Assurance. However, I think the best use of my degree in my QA work has been in deviation management and failure investigation. You learn to think through the steps of a process and pick out the relative weaknesses. I wish, however, I would have studied the humanities more and developed better critical thinking skills for non-scientific processes and data. You know…like Perry Robinson can do. I have a friend who got her undergrad in Elizabethian studies and her masters in Statistics. Talk about well rounded. She is AMAZING!!! She works in QA too.

  2. Some degrees we use: The MBA, the CFA… everyday some of that gets put to work. The BA in Medieval Studies… uh… that was supposed to be a prelude to an MS in Architecture that never happened. But the exposure to ancient and medieval cultures, the background in philosophy and theology, and especially the three courses in Christian Iconography… seem to have become background 30 years later for explaining how Orthodoxy rather than Roman Catholicism seemed home. Given that long gestation, I tend to think there is no degree that doesn’t get put to use every day… we just don’t always know how.

  3. My husband got his degree in English back when it didn’t matter*what* your degree was in — if you had one, it was a golden ticket. He’s worked all his adult life at occupational safety and health, and says his English degree is what taught him how to think creatively and how to communicate, and he has used both in his career. A pity more businesses don’t recognize those skills nowadays.

  4. I usually forget that I have a masters in library science and think degree meaning my BA in English Lit! 🙂

    So since I am a librarian yes I use my masters a lot!! 🙂 But my BA in English is what taught me to read well and write based on what I read.

    My current contract is using both my library and writing skills and I could not be happier… (early days of course in the contract but still!)

  5. I can’t say I don’t use my degree, just that I don’t use it professionally — I guess I waited a bit too long to be able to use it.

  6. I have a BA in Speech/Theatre and a BA in English (don’t ask). I am the first (former) English teacher my manager ever hired as a programmer/analyst. I listen to the problem and research the best answer. I then write the answer in a language using grammar, syntax and vocabulary to express the desired outcome. The written product goes through multiple drafts and revision until all parties agree that the problem has been solved. Yes, I use my degrees every day.

  7. I have a bachelor’s degree in Latin. I think the part of earning that degree that I use now is just learning what makes up a structured argument. My M-R-S degree, on the other hand, is something I use every day. 🙂

    (It’s a little hard for me: my father had three degrees; my mother has four—and they were/are teachers. My husband has four. I think my mother has stopped asking me when I’m going back for my master’s degree.)

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