Yes, Medieval and Renaissance Studies is a fascinating area of study, but what can you do with a MedRen major?—the inevitable question asked (with worry?) before deciding to jump in. You don’t need to worry. While the gut feeling of many is that humanities majors will have a tough time finding good jobs and making a good living, the reality is actually optimistic. Our former majors are gainfully employed in a wide range of interesting careers.
A few go to graduate school to become teachers and professors specializing in this field. Some find the major to be a solid foundation for law school, others a significant humanities complement to balance study in the sciences as they prepare for medical school. MedRen graduates are also working in a wide array of jobs in education, business, the arts, communications, administration, and nonprofit organizations. But our majors follow individualized paths and build specific academic and intellectual profiles.
Recent MedRen majors (and some minors) have been engaged in the following:
- Cornell University Law School with plans to work in the niche field of art and cultural heritage law, combining a love for ethics, art, and history
- Fulbright Award teaching in Madrid, Spain, with plans to attend law school and pursue a career in humanitarian or human rights law
- MFA in Creative Writing at Chapman University, Orange, CA, hoping to work in script development and the creative side of movie producing
- Wake Forest University Medical School
- Harvard University Medical School
- Working with a service organization or campaign in the Philadelphia area, with plans to attend law school and eventually work in constitutional and public interest law
- Staff Member with Campus Crusade for Christ at Duke, with plans to work in the area of business or marketing for a nonprofit organization
- Duke Masters degree program in Engineering Management; commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Air Force
- Lab Manager and Teaching Assistant in Duke Mechanical Engineering School
- Editorial Assistant in the books division of the University of North Carolina Press
- Master of Library Science degree at UNC Chapel Hill, Duke Libraries History of Medicine Intern
- Master of Library Science degree at UNC Chapel Hill, Duke Libraries Research and Instructional Services Humanities Intern
- Medical Scientist Training Program (MD-PhD) at the Mayo Clinic
- University of North Carolina Law School
- Master of Accounting degree at the University of Texas at Austin, now Audit Senior Assistant, Deloitte LLP
- Fisheries and Administrative Assistant for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
- Software Engineer at SoundHound Inc., Boulder, CO
- Sales Department, Oracle Company
- Editorial Writer and Digital Engagement Producer, Tampa Bay Times
- Law Clerk, Bagwell Holt Smith P.A., Chapel Hill, NC
- Project Manager, Cox Communications
- Research Coordinator, New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia Presbyterian
- Research Analyst and Program Manager, Duke Global Health Institute
- Associate Director of Philanthropy, Psi Upsilon Foundation
- Bookseller, Bruce McKittrick Rare Books, Inc.
- Product Director, ANet The Achievement Network
- General Dentistry, Raleigh, NC
- Manager of Sales Operations, Digital Management, Inc.
- Physician, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Parkland Hospital
- Instructor of English, Saint Andrew’s School, Boca Raton, FL
- Orthopaedic Surgeon, Durham, NC
- PhD Researcher, History of Art, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
- Associate Attorney, Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher LLP
- Associate Marketing Manager, PepsiCo, Inc.
- Teacher, Montgomery County, AL, Public Schools
Humanities in the STEM World
No matter what our former students are doing now, they have told us that their experience in the major has helped them to be better at what they do. That’s the value of the humanities! The MedRen major will give you many strengths applicable to any kind of meaningful work:
- Read closely
- Think critically, differently, and outside the box
- Exchange ideas freely with others
- Conduct research using primary sources
- Build a persuasive argument
- Write with conviction
- See the world with empathy, understanding the needs and desires of others
- Learn how to keep learning for a lifetime
These are timeless skills. Our rapidly evolving, high-tech future badly needs people who will offer a humanist’s grace. Recent research posted on LinkedIn’s Learning Blog on the most sought-after job skills by employers for 2019 found that four of the most-wanted skills are creativity, persuasion, collaboration, and adaptability—so-called “soft skills” that you gain in humanities education. A recent BBC Worklife article argues that the humanities can set you up for life.
This should not be surprising, because the humanities do not merely complement the sciences and technology; both are necessary frameworks for dealing with the world. Broadly speaking, the sciences deal with the world as it remains stable, as it can be measured; the humanities deal with the world as it changes, as it must be interpreted within varying contexts and contingencies. Both the humanities and the sciences are alike in their aim to develop hypotheses and to test them in order to understand the world in which we live. This yin/yang balance is necessary for the wholeness of knowledge. That is why, as our former graduates attest, Medieval and Renaissance Studies can make you better at what you end up doing.