What Can I Do with My African American Studies Major?
African American studies examines the experiences and contributions of people of the African diaspora in the United States and globally. By studying the intellectual, historical, cultural, economic, political, literary, scientific, and social structures and practices of African Americans, the major provides the tools to think through solutions to social issues rooted in longstanding and persistent racial divides.
In doing so, students develop the ability to bridge the gap between the classroom and community, particularly the diverse communities of Washington, DC and beyond. African American studies elevates the use of an interdisciplinary curriculum and requires students to integrate knowledge from different fields of study, such as history, sociology, literature, philosophy, anthropology, and government, in order to solve problems. The integrative aspect of African American studies teaches students how to apply what they know in unfamiliar contexts. In addition, African American studies has always drawn from the humanities, social sciences, and the arts.
Majoring in African American studies at Georgetown provides students with skills that can be applicable across many different industries. The incorporation of the arts alongside the humanities and sciences prepares students to think imaginatively and innovatively as well as critically. These skills prepare students for a wide range of career and education options. Throughout your experience in the program, you will obtain the following skills:
Critical Thinking Skills
- Approaching problems from multiple perspectives
- Avoiding simplistic solutions
- Reading critically
- Thinking independently
- Recognizing unnoticed patterns and structures
- Understanding components of complex problems
Effective Communication Skills
- Writing effectively
- Articulating ideas and theories
- Creative persuasive arguments
- Analytical writing
- Assessing conflicting viewpoints
- Public speaking
- Gathering and interpreting data
- Conducting original analysis
- Defining problems
- Understanding social context
- Applying theoretical approaches to research problems
Social and Cultural Relations Skills
- Understanding and appreciating human relationships along gendered, classed and racial lines
- Identifying cultural and social forces
- Understanding diversity
You can use the examples above, and experiences from classes or research projects to enhance your resume. Try plugging in some of your experiences or skills gained into this formula: Accomplished (X) as measured by (Y) by doing (Z).
Sample Resume Class 1, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Member of Class, taught by Prof. _____
- Developed understanding of the past and present historical, social, political, and cultural experiences of African-descended people in the United States by critically examining, exploring, and analyzing the Black Atlantic diaspora
- Enhanced interdisciplinary research methods (insert such as) used in AfAm Studies by investigating influences of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches, determining intellectual uses, and discussing criticisms as they relate to contemporary thinking of Black experiences
- Articulate verbally and in writing personal and historically grounded interpretations based upon careful documentation and close analysis of texts by author1, author2, and author3
- Completed honors thesis examining ______ under direction of Professor ______
African American Studies alumni from Georgetown have found jobs and applied their skills in many industries and disciplines.
You can find additional information about the post-graduation paths of Georgetown alumni in Cawley’s Post Graduation Outcome Report.
Helpful Keywords to Improve Searches
There are lots of ways to find good keywords to help your job or internship search process, or even just to learn more about the types of jobs you can do within a specific major. One way to explore this is by checking out the job search tool on Google.
Once you are in, type in something generic like “African American Studies major” and the word “internship”. Once you hit enter, you will find lots of options to explore, but if you want to explore titles, career paths, or keywords, hover your mouse over the ‘Title’ tab on the top of the page. This will give you many ideas and options to explore.
- Museums (e.g., National Museum of African American History & Culture)
- Government (e.g., Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Leadership Initiative, National Park Service Cultural Resources Diversity Internship)
- Communications/Media (T. Howard Foundation)
- Advertising, PR, Marketing (The LAGRANT Foundation)
- Business/Corporate Leadership or Law (SEO; INROADS; Management Leadership for Tomorrow)
The Georgetown African American Studies Department website is rich with additional information.
Professional associations can be great places to go to dive deeper into the field of African American Studies and learn more about what post-grad life might look like.
Professors & Academic Deans
Georgetown professors and faculty members can be a wonderful resource for Georgetown students. If you are still curious to learn more about the disciplines of a specific major, we’d encourage you to connect with your professors! Outside of office hours, Georgetown has an online interface called GU360 where students can explore and connect with faculty members that are eager to mentor and support students. You can use this interface to learn more about specific department research, specialties, and areas of study within a major.
You can also connect with your academic dean or counselor to further discuss opportunities within a given major.
Lastly, each department has a dedicated Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). This is the individual in charge of coordinating the major program or department as a whole. You can find the Director of Undergraduate Studies by exploring the faculty and staff pages of individual departmental websites.
Connecting with alumni is a fantastic way to explore a day in the life of any given major student. There are several different ways to connect with Georgetown Alums. Hoya Gateway is Georgetown’s premier networking platform which connects alumni and students to have meaningful conversations and build a strong network of support. This is a platform alumni opt into with the sole purpose of supporting current students, which means there is an extremely high response rate.
You can also utilize LinkedIn to connect with Georgetown Alum. A simple alumni search on Georgetown’s LinkedIn profile will help you get connected to approximately 130 thousand alumni, which you can then filter to meet the location, major, industry, or skills that you are interested in exploring.
You can also check out our post-graduation outcomes to learn more about what Georgetown alumni in specific majors are up to after graduation. We survey our seniors at the end of each year and into the following year to learn about jobs they secured, service opportunities they committed to, or graduate schools they decided to attend. You can filter by first major to get an idea of what life after Georgetown looks like. You’ll see in many cases that alums are using majors in a wide variety of ways, and your major doesn’t always equal your career path.
Career Center Staff
You can also connect with career center staff to talk through the possible outcomes of one major over another. In short, there are endless opportunities no matter what major you choose. However, connecting with someone might help you navigate your decision making process a little bit easier.
At the career center, you have the opportunity to meet with either a Career Exploration Counselor or an Industry Advisor. Career Exploration Counselors can help you talk through concerns, goals, the big picture, and strategies to move forward. You can think of them as generalists and a great place to get started. Industry Advisors can help you think through specific questions about a given career path and provide specific industry information and trends. You can think of them as specialists for once you start to narrow down your possible path. If you think an appointment with one of these individuals would benefit you, you can make an appointment on Handshake.