Professional Training and Development
To ensure that students build networks within and outside UMass Boston, the Public History Track requires students to participate in four skills-based programs during the course of their graduate career. Even students attending UMass Boston part-time should be able to meet the requirements before graduation if they do one professional development activity per semester.
Students will be encouraged to attend workshops, seminars, conferences, webinars, or institutes related to public history, digital humanities, or community engagement. Students should inquire with the director of public history before selecting a specific program. Only one of four programs can be virtual. These opportunities will offer public history students familiarity and training in a variety of professional skill areas important in the work of public historians and provide crucial venues and practice in networking.
These development opportunities can include attending conferences and workshops of relevant organizations such as New England Museum Association, Mass Humanities, National Council on Public History, American Association for State and Local History, The American Alliance of Museums, Society of American Archivists, Oral History Association, American Historical Association, or Organization of American Historians. Students may elect to join one of these organizations to take advantage of their multiple program offerings. Students can also receive credit for the HGSA History conference if they present there. Students should be aware that they may be asked to write a short reflection on one or each of these events and post it on joint UMass Boston Public History and Archives website along with at least one visual aid.
Programs that are passive in nature (attending an academic lecture, going to a museum, etc) are not considered skill-based and will not be accepted as fulfilling this requirement. Below are some examples of what can be considered "skill-based programs." As the list demonstrates, students can participate in these programs at little to no cost.
- As a New England Museum Association (NEMA) member, a student can participate in one of the Young and Emerging Museum Professionals events. These events are geared towards professionals who have been in the field for less than ten years, and they are meant to serve as “networking and educational opportunities.”
- Northeastern University hosts a Boston Digital Humanities Listserv. They periodically offer graduate students, faculty, staff, and enthusiasts workshops on digital humanities skills.
- Most public and local history conferences offer graduate students the opportunity to present their research or their work on a special program.
- In addition to presenting at a history conference, students can also gain many skills by organizing a history conference. Therefore students, who actively participate in several conference organizing activities, can count this activity towards their professional development. In this context, actively participating includes, but is not limited to, attending organizing meetings, engaging in decision-making processes, coordinating themes, ideas, and speakers/panels, and aiding in the execution of the actual conference.
- Grant writing is an important skill set for public historians. Students can learn about the grant-writing process by assisting either an on-campus or a local organization with a grant application
- Many local public history organizations are in dire need of volunteers. Students should consider volunteering for an organization and filling a much needed gap.
- Some professional organizations, and historical organizations, provide opportunities for student or volunteer participation in committees.
- Before leaving UMass Boston, students should begin thinking about potential workplaces and career goals. Students are encouraged to contact an organization and engage in an informational interview where they can ask advice on professional preparation and career goals, the industry, professional specializations, and workplace culture.
- Students should take advantage of UMass Boston’s Career Services. Students can make appointments to meet one-on-one with counselors about resumes/CVs, cover letters, or mock interviews.
There are multiple opportunities out there for aspiring public historians. Students should consult with the public history director or the public history internship coordinator before participating in a program to ensure that such a program meets the requirements.
In order to receive credit for the Professional Training and Development requirement, students must submit proper documentation (confirmation letter, receipt, name tag, etc.) to the director of public history, who will keep track of students’ progress. Students who write a thesis must complete the Professional Training and Development requirement before they schedule a thesis defense. Students who write a capstone will not receive their final capstone grade until they have completed the Professional Training and Development requirement.
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