How has the history major influenced your life?
In two key ways: 1) Global perspective: I have a much broader perspective of other cultures. 2) Career flexibility: I was able to shift from strategy consulting for technology companies to conducting equity research in health care, two very different fields. My written and verbal communication skills were instrumental to my successful transition.
Beyond that, my history major enhances my ability to connect with people and exchange perspectives, which helps me build my professional relationships. People are more interested in you when you are an interesting person.
How has it shaped your career?
Equity research is very information driven. Success is predicated on the ability to process and analyze large amounts of data and then explain complex topics to a generalist audience. My clients have often said this is one of my strengths. It’s similar to thesis work, where you develop a theme, do research, and then translate the information into a paper that stands the test of time. Similarly, equity research is a field where analysts are constantly seeking out inefficiencies in the stock market – specifically, stocks that are undervalued or overvalued. The History major developed my ability to analyze the big picture while looking for perspectives that may have been overlooked by conventional thinking.
How did you choose this career path?
In addition to majoring in history, I was pre-med at Middlebury. It wasn’t until my senior year that I realized I did not want to be a physician, and I began exploring other careers. I was interested in technology, but I also wanted to understand business; so I chose strategy consulting, which is a great way to gain exposure to a lot of different companies and business concepts. Once I found equity research, though, I realized it was a great fit for both my skills and interests. I think that is one of the biggest challenges to choosing a career—optimizing both your aptitudes and your interests, but not overemphasizing one over the other.
What advice do you have for current history majors as they consider their future?
Your history degree can really help you in three key ways as you plan your career. First, learn about other cultures and develop a global perspective. Employers are increasingly expanding their businesses and hiring people with a global view. Second, use your thesis in any job interview. Since it is one topic where you are likely the expert, use it to showcase your analytical and presentation abilities, a crucial skill set for any career. Lastly, emphasize the written and communication skills you gain as a history major; these attributes are becoming more scarce as college graduates focus more on technical skills.