Skip to main content

Jonathan Feldman: Reflection on History Major

Posted by on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 in Student Reflections.

Jonathan Feldman ’09

I completed the history honors program under the direction of Professor Thomas Schwartz, the most rewarding academic pursuit of my life. Studying history has aided me in my personal and professional life, providing the ultimate context for navigating our interconnected world.

Currently, I live in London and work in financial services focused on global transportation, a far distant place from Memorial Gym… okay Professor Schwartz and Professor Eakin, I meant a far cry from Benson Hall!

I will not pretend I do not see the elephant in the room. I get it. The world is competitive and “skills based.” You feel the pressure to specialize and gain hard skills in order to position yourself in the job market, one that seems increasingly more daunting and technical.  I do not blame you for having these feelings, but I do ask you to consider the longer term. The skills can be learned, but the opportunity to sit on campus and wrestle with the past during a critical juncture in one’s life, is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

If my statement seems too idealistic, it has actually had practical implications for own life. In an ultra competitive world, the person in the room than can concisely communicate, relate to others, and make key connections with events in the past, can separate themselves from the pack. In a world that throws at you copious amounts of information, constant distraction, and the need to consistently level up and gain skills, history degrees aren’t frivolous but a necessary foundation. The skills I gained from my history major have helped me connect with my future employers and give them the confidence in my ability to draw conclusions.

Life is a constant pursuit of knowledge. Spending time learning how to learn is not a waste of time but the ultimate skill. Anyone who tells you otherwise about studying history….probably also helps us repeat it!