As a junior history social-science major at Illinois State University, I can attest that one of the most difficult decisions during college is the dilemma of discovering a career path. An ideal occupation needs to fulfill a variety of categories in order to catch my attention, including an interesting direction and topic, a comfortable salary, manageable hours, and a rewarding feeling. Most jobs only meet some of these categories; unfortunately this reality does not help with my decision.
For as long as I can remember, I have pictured my future self teaching history to high school students. There have been other occupations that have caught my eye, but my stubbornness and work ethic have kept me grounded, focused on my teaching goal. Admittedly, my horizons have narrowed in on teaching because I viewed history education as the only viable route to working at a job associated with my favorite subject. I have never given much thought to pursuing other careers in the history field simply because I was content with the idea of teaching and equally as afraid to enter a poor job market with just a history degree.
After spending the past semester at the McLean County Museum of History, my horizons have broadened and my eyes have been opened to a variety of other careers within the field of history. Through my experience as the public programs intern, I was able work on research projects, work alongside people of all ages in an educational setting, and witness how traveling and migration have shaped the landscape and societal structure of McLean County. Combining all of my professional interests: historical research, education and instruction, and traveling, I have finally discovered the perfect occupation. My ideal job would roughly translate to a historical travel guide, a position that is most likely a wishful fabrication but still, a valid possibility.
Because of my time spent at the museum, I feel enlightened to the numerous occupations related to history, not just history education. Although I will probably continue to pursue teaching history at the high school level, the stress of questioning the utility of my history degree has all but diminished. I am thankful for what I have gained through the museum: a refreshing perspective, a rewarding feeling, and a fantastic staff of professionals that I can now call my friends.