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01-03-2019, 14:14   #1
turbowolfed
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Finishing college and want to work in history

Hi, so I know this topic comes up a lot but I don't know what to do with myself once I leave college.
I'm 24 and currently just coming into the finishing stages of a MA in History (Modern Irish/social history focus). Projected grade is a First Class Honours. I love history. Absolutely couldn't imagine myself doing anything else. But there are just so many options I don't know what I should do.

I am leaning doing towards doing a phd, but it is very expensive. I know it takes four years at minimum too, so that is a worry in terms of financing myself. I don't want to still be living at home in a few years because i'm "still" studying. I have read about funded phd opportunities, but am wondering how likely is it to actually be funded?

If I were to push the idea of a phd further down the line, and try to get working after college, what types of roles would I be looking at? I am interested in museums and archives and would like that. But, I went for an interview to be a tour guide at a Dublin museum before and was told with the MA I was overqualified . I haven't a clue what to actually be applying for.

Thanks so much. Head is a bit all over the place at the moment.
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03-03-2019, 15:56   #2
Ascendant
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Originally Posted by turbowolfed View Post
Hi, so I know this topic comes up a lot but I don't know what to do with myself once I leave college.
I'm 24 and currently just coming into the finishing stages of a MA in History (Modern Irish/social history focus). Projected grade is a First Class Honours. I love history. Absolutely couldn't imagine myself doing anything else. But there are just so many options I don't know what I should do.

I am leaning doing towards doing a phd, but it is very expensive. I know it takes four years at minimum too, so that is a worry in terms of financing myself. I don't want to still be living at home in a few years because i'm "still" studying. I have read about funded phd opportunities, but am wondering how likely is it to actually be funded?

If I were to push the idea of a phd further down the line, and try to get working after college, what types of roles would I be looking at? I am interested in museums and archives and would like that. But, I went for an interview to be a tour guide at a Dublin museum before and was told with the MA I was overqualified . I haven't a clue what to actually be applying for.

Thanks so much. Head is a bit all over the place at the moment.
There are jobs in libraries, archives, museums and similar, but to have a chance at any of those, you'd need a degree in that particular field.

If you want to enter there, you'd be better off doing the relevant Masters for the year than a PhD - cheaper, shorter and of more immediate use when you graduate. But even these jobs are very competitive, with more graduates in them than vacancies, so don't bet the farm on them.
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04-03-2019, 10:56   #3
riverina
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Often the best way to get work in a museum or archive is to either volunteer, or to apply for a job for which you're 'overqualified'. If the museum is the place you want to be, get whatever job you can. You're then 'in the door' and when a more suitable position comes up, then you've got a good/better chance of getting it.

Whilst you're working in a job that is not ultimately where you want to be, you can be furthering your knowledge by getting to know the museum's collection, how the museum works, and making good contacts. Look out for conferences/seminars etc that keep your mind occupied, and can be seen as continuous professional development. You might also be able to start your PhD whilst working in that job, depending on their flexibility, commitment to staff, ability to part-fund study, etc.

I think if you did a poll of staff working in museums in Ireland, many of them, especially in entry-level jobs, are 'overqualified'. You've got to start somewhere. Many staff in the National Museum of Ireland work their way 'up' through positions.

I suggest that if a job comes up in a museum or archive that you are interested in, go for it, and if in the interview they tell you that you are overqualified, impress on them your willingness to do the job because of your passion for the museum etc. You never know where you might end up.

Good luck!
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04-03-2019, 13:27   #4
turbowolfed
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Thanks guys. I didn't mean overqualified in a snobby way, just didn't seem like she wanted me to work there all that much. I think getting into a museum and working my way up would be good. Especially if I could eventually take on a phd while i work. Volunteering is a good shout too. I'll check that out. I just really want to get into the area i want and not to be back working in the pub I work in now. Fingers crossed something comes up!
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04-03-2019, 15:10   #5
riverina
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Thanks guys. I didn't mean overqualified in a snobby way
I didn't take it that way, don't worry. Good luck with your searching, and your Masters!
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05-03-2019, 20:37   #6
Historybluff
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Originally Posted by turbowolfed View Post
I am leaning doing towards doing a phd, but it is very expensive. I know it takes four years at minimum too, so that is a worry in terms of financing myself. I don't want to still be living at home in a few years because i'm "still" studying. I have read about funded phd opportunities, but am wondering how likely is it to actually be funded?
Doing a PhD is risky. I did one (in history) and view it as a waste of time. I just about managed to cover my costs by winning a scholarship from the university and a maintenance grant from a local authority. For three years I worked like a mad man: reading, researching in archives, and writing. Unfortunately, when I graduated, Ireland was in recession. Unable to find any work - not even part-time tutoring - I was forced to move back in with my parents. Over the following few years, I applied for academic jobs - mainly abroad as there were very few available in Ireland - and published my thesis. All to no avail. It was very frustrating. Eventually, I threw in the towel and got a job in the civil service - one for which I am vastly over-qualified. I don't regret doing the PhD per se; I regret the time wasted - the three years of the course itself and the few years afterwards fruitlessly applying for jobs. I could have put those years to better use.

Before applying for a PhD programme, I would recommend that you consult one or two academics you know and ask them if the academic jobs market is good and is it likely to be good in three or four years' time when you graduate. Ask them what are the fashionable areas and topics of research, i.e. gender history. Are you interested in these? If the answers are positive, you should consider applying for a place on a PhD course.

As far as I can judge, there's a large number of PhDs chasing a relatively small number of post-doctoral positions and junior lectureships. After graduating, if you're lucky, you'll probably spend a few years alternating between the dole (including living with your parents), part-time employment (i.e. tutoring) and a post doc, before securing a lectureship. If you're unlucky, you might not find a post doc or a lectureship. Obviously, having to pay off a student loan all the while would make the situation even more difficult.

In conclusion, you should only embark on a PhD with your eyes open.
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05-03-2019, 22:48   #7
turbowolfed
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Doing a PhD is risky. I did one (in history) and view it as a waste of time. I just about managed to cover my costs by winning a scholarship from the university and a maintenance grant from a local authority. For three years I worked like a mad man: reading, researching in archives, and writing. Unfortunately, when I graduated, Ireland was in recession. Unable to find any work - not even part-time tutoring - I was forced to move back in with my parents. Over the following few years, I applied for academic jobs - mainly abroad as there were very few available in Ireland - and published my thesis. All to no avail. It was very frustrating. Eventually, I threw in the towel and got a job in the civil service - one for which I am vastly over-qualified. I don't regret doing the PhD per se; I regret the time wasted - the three years of the course itself and the few years afterwards fruitlessly applying for jobs. I could have put those years to better use.

Before applying for a PhD programme, I would recommend that you consult one or two academics you know and ask them if the academic jobs market is good and is it likely to be good in three or four years' time when you graduate. Ask them what are the fashionable areas and topics of research, i.e. gender history. Are you interested in these? If the answers are positive, you should consider applying for a place on a PhD course.

As far as I can judge, there's a large number of PhDs chasing a relatively small number of post-doctoral positions and junior lectureships. After graduating, if you're lucky, you'll probably spend a few years alternating between the dole (including living with your parents), part-time employment (i.e. tutoring) and a post doc, before securing a lectureship. If you're unlucky, you might not find a post doc or a lectureship. Obviously, having to pay off a student loan all the while would make the situation even more difficult.

In conclusion, you should only embark on a PhD with your eyes open.
Thanks for your honesty. It seems pretty risky. I'll definitely talk to a few lecturers in the field and get their opinion.
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