career development / Technology

Why History students need IT skills

When you think about the skills you’ve gained from your History degree, IT skills may not immediately spring to mind. However, you can develop IT skills throughout your degree which will be an asset to you in the world of work.

Microsoft Office

Without having thought much about it, most of you will probably be confident using Microsoft Office, and its core programmes Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Even though this might feel like a given to many of you, it’s still worth including on your CV that you’re ‘Confident with Microsoft Office’ as employers still like to know that you have the ability. If you’ve gone beyond the main three, and it’s relevant to the job role, you could also include your confidence with OneNote or Access. Even if the role you’re applying for uses a different system, with a similar function, you could emphasize your understanding of the Microsoft version alongside your ability to pick up new programmes.

Online research

History degrees are no longer confined to research through physical books. Even where you’re reading physical books for your research, you will have used the library search to find them. Throughout your degree you will have manipulated online search engines to conduct research and chase down references. You may also have some understanding of Boolean searching. From this, you will likely have a good understanding of how to find reliable information from reputable sites, which would be key in any job involving research, such as policy, social research, or charity roles.

Quantitative research

You may have done some quantitative research during your studies. Through this, you will have developed a solid understanding of Excel, or other programmes such as SPSS. If this isn’t something you’ve done, consider how you can improve your Excel ability. Excel can be used to keep track of your primary research, and once you’ve developed an understanding of how it can function as a database, it can be an incredibly useful tool. Emphasising your confidence working with and manipulating data would be great for your CV or cover letter. If you’re not sure how Excel could be useful to you, or where to start, take a look at our blog post and the ‘Using Data’ section of this Digital Literacy page.

Digital Humanities

You will likely have engaged with Digital Humanities (DH) during your degree even if you don’t know it! If you’ve been using digitised primary sources, you are using Digital Humanities. It’s important to understand the processes behind online resources. Have scanned images been transformed into text, through processes such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR), or have they been transcribed? Are they keyword searchable, or do you have to rely on the information in the title alone? Knowing these things will help you to return the best results, and improve your research.

DH is a growing field, and a deeper understanding could be really useful for future work or study. You can gain volunteering experience in DH through crowdsourcing platforms like Zooniverse and the Smithsonian. Learn more about DH in this British Academy blog post, and check out Digital Humanities at Warwick.

Digital Communication

Throughout your degree, you’ll have communicated with your tutors and many others over email. In addition to conveying complex information in your essays, you’ll have developed an understanding of how to effectively communicate with people in a written form. Over the past year, you will have improved your ability to communicate verbally in the digital sense, through online seminars and other activities on Teams or Zoom. This could be useful as your move into the world of work, for communicating with others at a distance.

If you’ve been involved with other online forms of communication during your degree, such as blogging, this could add another string to your bow. This year, the Global History and Culture Centre put out a call for paid blog posts. Keep an eye out for opportunities like this to develop your skills, try something new, and earn some money too!

Your ability to adapt information for different forms of delivery is an important skill. This should be emphasized on your CV where both written and spoken communication is required for the role. It’s important for your career to think about how you present yourself digitally, through platforms such as LinkedIn. Keep an eye out for relevant sessions here.

Developing your IT skills

If you’d like to gain some credit alongside developing your IT skills, as well as some other useful skills, you can complete the Warwick Skills Portfolio Award (WSPA). Once completed, this will appear on your HEAR record, and indicate to employers that you are committed to self-development. Keep an eye out for the Digital Literacy events on MyAdvantage. You can learn more about the range of bookable sessions and self-directed courses available on the Digital Literacy page.

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