126th Annual American Historical Association Conference

Created by Ashley Pinney, 2011-2012 Career Fellow

I was given the incredible opportunity to attend the  American Historical Association’s 126th annual conference in Chicago, IL January 5th-8th. What an experience! I am teaching COE 375 D: Transition Strategies for History Majors next semester and the conference was offering a slew of helpful and interesting workshops that would enhance my knowledge as an instructor. In addition, there were presentations on the Internationalization of higher education and Perceptions of American students and scholars abroad, personal interest areas of mine. The conference lasted four days and I took pages and pages worth of notes but it would be nonsensical to go over everything I learned. Instead, I’ll highlight my favorite parts of the conference experience.

126th AHA Conference!

1) Interviewing in the Job Market in the 21st Century Presentation

A year ago I knew little about career services. Interviewing, crafting resumes, LinkedIn, etc. were foreign concepts to me. During the interviewing workshop at the conference it was cool to see how much I knew about what they were talking about and how much I have learned this year. I was even able to offer participants’ suggestions about how to do successful skype interviews.  The presentation talked about the struggles of marketable applicants in a terrible market. Persistence and networking were points they kept reiterating, but they also talked about the importance of not settling. For example, a person in my group got offered a job at an institution in a big city. She applied because she was casting a wide net but at the end of the day decided that she couldn’t see herself living happily in a city. Sometimes I forget about the importance of knowing yourself and where would be the best fit for you. It’s easy to say “I need a job. I’ll work anywhere.” but the truth of the matter is we need to cognizant of the non-negotiables in our lives, things that would not make us happy.

The presenters shared with the group a few great resources. The resource that will be most beneficial to my T.S. Class is Careers for Students of History. It gives a lot of detailed information about the types of jobs students who majored in history can pursue. I’m excited to use it in my T.S. class!

2) Internationalization of Higher Education

In my training during the summer, I took the Strengths Quest assessment and one of my top 5 strengths was “Context”. I think this talent is why I enjoy history so much. Learning how things originated and how things got to be how they are is something I am constantly doing. For my capstone presentation during graduate school at the University of Virginia, I wrote about the social integration of international students at the University. Attending the Internationalization of Higher Education panel discussion gave me further context for this unique population and how they came to be a staple at most American institutions of higher education. One of the panelists wrote a paper specifically on Chinese, Japanese, and Phillippino students who came to the US to study in the late 19th century and the difficulties they endured due to discrimination. These students (along with tolerant American students) started Cosmopolitan Clubs (the root of our cultural clubs on campuses today). What I found to be incredibly interesting was that education in China in the late 19th century and hundreds of years before that taught Confucianism and prepared students for the civil service exam. It wasn’t until Chinese students came to the U.S. in the late 19th century when they learned science, math, engineering, etc. It was because of the modern education Chinese students learned here in America that helped strengthen China as a whole. This is interesting when examining the relationship of the two nations today.

This discussion also explored the relationships between American students and international students and the importance of integrating students in the classroom. Intentionally integrating these two groups in the classroom has proven most effective to increase cultural understanding and tolerance. Multicultural clubs, fairs, etc. are still important but mixing cultures in the classroom is key and has shown the best results.

3) Networking

In addition to informing people where Elon University is and helping them pronounce it correctly, I met a myriad of interesting and charismatic people with history backgrounds. High school teachers, university professors, consultants, etc. were all great to talk to. I am going to encourage my T.S. students to join a professional organization no matter what they end up doing with their lives. Membership in an organization is extremely valuable and beneficial. I plan on staying in touch with my new friends and using them as resources in my professional life.

Lovely Chicago

Author: Ashley Pinney

I am a Career Counseling Fellow at Elon University. The position is a post-graduate fellowship with an emphasis on providing career counseling services to students through individual meetings and co-facilitation of transition classes, as well as collaborating with residence life to develop career-related programing.

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