Notes From The Workfront: FSU History Alumnus Nicholas Altunian (MA 2016)

Nicholas Altunian

I obtained my MA in History from FSU in May 2016 and immediately found work as a high school teacher for Miami-Dade County public schools. At Florida State University I had the pleasure of teaching in the Humanities Department while researching the Napoleonic era. My teaching and research skills transferred well into my teaching career where I sought to take what I learned and apply it in my teaching. As a teacher my goal was to dispel the myth that history is merely a chronological order of events and important dates to memorize. I introduced my students to the study of historiography where we particularly looked at how the US Civil War has been interpreted since its conclusion. The students were fascinated and could easily see the relevance in how differing interpretations of the Civil War affected our country today. We investigated how people, including historians, offered a rehabilitative interpretation of the Antebellum South. Students picked up on the interpretive aspect of history and one even likened it to how conspiracy theories are interpretations of history.

After teaching for 2 years I made a large and perhaps perplexing transition into Software Engineering. I always had a fascination with computers and engineering. After teaching during the day I spent my afternoons teaching myself how to build websites and applications. Once I felt more confident and knew I liked engineering, I took a three-month course to help pick up more skills so that I could make a career transition. It was fun and felt like being back in college, being surrounded by people who wanted to learn. Employers are always interested in my background and education. They do not see it as a problem that I went from teaching and education to engineering once I show that I can do the required tasks.  

I still use the skills I learned at Florida State University and my teaching career on a daily basis. The research and communication skills I learned benefit myself, my team, the company I work for, and our clients. I am constantly researching new solutions to existing problems in cybersecurity, writing reports, and communicating with a diverse team of engineers, project managers, and our clients to ensure we deliver a quality product. Though I might not be ‘doing history’ at the moment, I constantly utilize my previous skills. I still miss teaching, but I’ve gotten to mentor new engineers. To me, getting to combine all of my previous skills with my newfound IT ones have been the best part of my career change.