DH Open Office Hours
On October 3rd, I attended a Digital Humanities Open Office Hours event titled “Marketing DH Skills Professionally.” DH Open Office Hours are designed to be a casual instructional event for students and staff interested in Digital Humanities. The event I attended had both graduate students and faculty unfamiliar with the presenters’ topic in attendance.
This event was hosted by Jim McGrath and Caroline Klibanoff, both Northeastern alumni with DH certificates. Dr. McGrath currently works in the Digital Public Humanities at Brown University and Caroline works at the MIT Museum. As successful digital humanists, the pair gave helpful advice on how to attain a career with the skills developed during attainment of a DH certificate.
The discussion began by determining our current standing in the DH world. We also laid out some goals we hoped to attend at one year and three years in the future. Being brand new to the topic, I determined that I wished to develop my personal website more and to contribute to the History Department’s podcast team within the year. In three years, I hoped to have completed my certificate and be working with my DH skills on my research.
The two presenters suggested that we volunteer at conferences in our respective fields. Not only would these opportunities build our CVs, but they would also allow us to interact with historians in the DH world. Jim and Caroline suggested that we find mentors through these types of opportunities to explore what types of careers are available to historians in the DH community.
The event then turned to a more general discussion of finding a career after completing graduate school. Caroline suggested that we make a master CV and tailor it to the application we are completing. She suggested using the USA Jobs website to utilize their free webinars on applying for jobs. This market is big for those in the humanities, according to her.
The pair offered some questions that applicants should ask in interviews and tips on how to craft your résumé. One take-away for those in the humanities was to acknowledge how your skills are received in other fields and capitalize on that information. Jim and Caroline emphasized that the job market is very different than the academic world. It is important to know who is doing the work and where the funding is located.
While they were concluding their presentation, Caroline discussed her experience in the application process. Her experience in mapping, blogging, and the Digital Humanities certificate came up most frequently by potential employers. Caroline advised that we as DH students try to work in our certificate to interviewers as much as possible. An applicant needs to get a sense of the audience that is served in the potential job and the tasks to be completed in order to choose what skills you highlight in an interview.
Caroline used her Digital Humanities certificate and history graduate degree to work in a museum. As I look toward my future career, I will have similar skills going into the market. I can present my strengths of working with visualizations and communication skills that I will have developed during my years working toward the certificate, which are easily transferable to a variety of fields.
The Open Office Hours offered a relaxed way to learn more about my DH certificate. Both Caroline and Jim emphasized how to “sell” yourself as a digital humanist. Overall, the hour I spent in the Digital Scholarship Commons made me think about the job market that I will be stepping into in five years. Seeing these successful cases was encouraging, but left me with the idea that the market must be carefully navigated. Luckily, digital humanities skills open up a variety of markets, just as Caroline and Jim proved.