BA in History

Benjamin Nguyen, 2016

Benjamin Nguyen

Why did you choose History as a major?

My decision to study history stemmed from romantic admiration and an assortment of personal obsessions. I enjoy learning about remarkable individuals and cultures of the past. I enjoy learning about their experiences and their impact on the way we behave, think, and view ourselves as human beings. History is not solely an academic pursuit for me; it also serves as recreation and even a source of escapism in my personal life.

What was your career path after graduation?

During my final year at George Mason, I was offered a government contracting position and started to work full time with the U.S. State Department after I graduated. Once I accumulate enough funds and build substantial work experience, however, I wish to study overseas, acquire one or more foreign languages, and eventually move on to graduate level coursework.

How do you think your History major at Mason prepared you for your career?

I would argue that this field of study can provide individuals with a variety of skills and habits that can be used not only in professional work, but also refine one's way of thinking. Research, writing, interpretation, and analytical skills are some that come to mind when considering the field's "real-world" usefulness, all of which I use in my job at the State Department. Also important is that History majors may leave the classroom thinking more rationally and objectively.

Any advice you’d like to give current Mason students?

You should absolutely study abroad and intern, if your situation permits it. Studying abroad is not just exciting and pleasurable but can radically change the way you perceive the world and your own place in the world. If you happen to learn a language along the way, your marketability can improve drastically as the economy is far more global than it ever has been.

Interning provides extremely valuable professional experience, and employers will pay especially close attention to the quality of experience you bring before them. My internship with the State Department was vital in securing my current job. Do not limit yourself to any particular program or type of work. Any kind of experience will benefit you greatly.

Additionally, build close and genuine relationships with your professors. The years' worth of knowledge and experience they carry with them can be tremendously helpful and reassuring whenever you are stuck or unsure on something. Being in contact with your professors also makes it easier for them to verify your performance as a student, if you happened to cite them as references.