Notes From The Workfront: FSU History Alumna Mallory McGovern (BA 2020)

Mallory McGovern

My graduation (Spring of 2020) looked nothing like I had expected. I had left Tallahassee in March thinking that I would be getting a nice break before coming back to defend my thesis and finish off my semester before hopefully finding an internship to ease me into the working world. Of course, the entire world shutting down had not been in my plans. That being said, I was able to defend my thesis and graduate. I had hoped to work in a museum, which was complicated by the fact that most public gathering places were closed until further notice. I was looking anywhere and everywhere for a job, but I found myself back in Tallahassee once again with the opportunity to work in history in a way I hadn’t thought of before.

As any history major would know, the most common question you get asked when you share your major is: Do you want to be a teacher? For me, the answer was a little complicated. I had an interest in the museum field as well as academia, but I didn’t see myself in the traditional teacher role. While I am still not a teacher, as the Staff Assistant to the Chair of the Florida Department of Education Commissioner’s Task Force on Holocaust Education, I’ve become much more familiar with the public school system and the work that happens at the classroom, district, and state level. While I am still learning the ins-and-outs of the broader field of education, my degree has allowed me to enter any conversation confident that I have something valuable to contribute due to my content knowledge and the ability to apply my experience to my job.

Working in education, and specifically with a topic that is historically based, was a fairly natural transition from my undergraduate career. While my personal research interests lie outside of Holocaust education, I learned during my undergraduate career that regardless of the topic you are studying, you can always find an element that interests you. I found that when I approached every class I took or internship I had with the same level of curiosity, there was always something of value I could take away, whether it was a broader historical understanding, a new method for sharing history, or simply becoming a better writer. Having benefited from a history education myself, I also went into my new role understanding the intrinsic value of history education, and specifically, how history can be translated into creating a more equitable and understanding world.

There are a lot of skills that you pick up as a History major that are common to other branches of the liberal arts: critical thinking, writing, communication, and so on. But what I found unique in my experience with History was my ability to be independent and creative. I found history to be much more than reading textbooks and listening to lectures. Through my senior seminar, Honors Thesis, and internships, I was pushed to look beyond the traditional sources of books and journals. After you have spent hours in the library deciphering microfiche or reading fading cursive from a letter written during World War II, searching for lesson plans and resources to recommend to teachers is much less of a challenge. Additionally, history taught me to be constantly curious and to always look at everything from multiple angles. In history, it is not enough to know a fact. You also need to know the context of the fact, why it may have happened, the aftermath, and the experiences of those involved, just to name a few. This has pushed me to always look for ways to improve my work, as well as motivate the continuation of my own education in Holocaust history so that I may better assist teachers and professionals of the subject.

Before I graduated, I thought my most apparent path forward would be to work in the museum field. However, through a combination of the increasingly online manner of everyday life and the opportunities introduced to me through my current position, my perspective has changed quite a bit. I have now learned that there are many ways I can apply my skills and interests to different positions. As I look towards grad school within the next few years, I am eager to apply the inquisitiveness and drive that History has instilled within me to create a more curious and informed future for myself and any future students or colleagues.