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Careers in American Studies
Employers in businesses, in non-profit organizations and agencies, in the media, in government, and in schools, all want employees who can think well and express their ideas clearly. Students who have majored in American Studies have been trained in both of those skills. Graduates of our program have found good careers in the Human Resources division of Enterprise Rent-a-Car and in other businesses.
Students graduating with majors in both Education and American Studies have been employed by many school districts in New Jersey. But students who have some or all of that training who are seeking other kinds of employment should contact the many museums and historical societies in the Delaware Valley. Organizations like the National Constitution Center (Philadelphia), the Battleship New Jersey (Camden), the Hagley Museum (Delaware) and Wheaton Village (South Jersey) seek employees who can do many things, including carrying out the important job of providing educational programming and training guides who speak to visitors. If you are interested in this area of employment, be sure to take the course called Field Service, offered by the Rowan’s History Department, which fulfills a requirement in the American Studies major. It will give you internship training in this area, which is called Public History.
If you have not taken History’s Field Service course but are still interested in an internship (some are paid!), go to the website http://www.njintern.com for a list of the many internships available in New Jersey for college students. It is best to take this internship BEFORE you graduate because they are designed for students. Internships are a wonderful way to get your foot on the first step to employment.
Another ideal area in which to seek employment is government service. This can really be thought of as Applied American Studies. Only a small percentage of the people who are government employees are elected officials. Most government employees run the offices and committees that do the government’s work under the direction of the elected official. One interesting committee might be that of Community Liaison. Government workers can be found at all levels, from local Town Councils, Boards of Freeholders, and Mayors, to State Legislators, Governor’s Office, and State Supreme Court workers (located mostly in Trenton), to United States Congress, Office of the President, and Supreme Court in Washington D.C. One way to begin seeking work in this area is to contact your local government officials or your state legislative representatives or your U.S. congressmen and introduce yourself as someone who is a constituent of theirs who is a student in (or has just graduated from) Rowan, a public university, with an American Studies major, and who wants their help landing a job in government. Our graduates have been successful with this tactic and have been employed by leading New Jersey officials. You can find out about our state’s elected officials on the web, where you can also learn about all the various committees. Go to the web and find out which committees and offices look interesting to you and which ones will use your strengths. You will have a better chance of being hired if you can be specific about what you want to do and why you think you will be great at doing it.
You can find information about internships for government work in Washington, D.C. on the web. If you think you might be interested in this sort of work do be sure to arrange an internship BEFORE you graduate. Some of the Washington internships are held during the summer.
American Studies majors who also have a minor in Journalism or Radio/TV/Film are well prepared to succeed in careers in journalism – whatever medium they choose. Through their second major in the College of Communications these students will be eligible for internships in those areas.
A number of our American Studies graduates have successfully completed graduate school in areas like Law and History. One such graduate is currently an attorney and a clerk for a New Jersey Family Court Judge – a coveted position.
Finally, be sure to go to the Career and Academic Planning Center (CAP Center) in Savitz Hall when you start to think about career employment. They will help you to put together a resume that can showcase your strengths correctly. You might do this in the summer before your Junior year as you search for internships and again in your Senior year as you approach graduation.