November 17, 2023
Does a major determine the details of your future?
This question is particularly relevant for social science majors — teaching isn’t the sole choice for history majors nor is a career in mental health the required outcome of studying psychology. Greg Jackson (BA ‘08, MA ’10) is a great example of how social science graduates have the freedom to create a career path rather than follow the constraints of a defined professional role.
Jackson earned an undergraduate degree from BYU in history and a master’s in French studies. He also holds a PhD in history from the University of Utah. His daytime career is as an associate professor and senior fellow at the Center for National Security Studies and fellow of Integrated Studies at Utah Valley University.
While he teaches courses in national security, Jackson is known best for his after-hours career hosting the History That Doesn’t Suck podcast. The podcast has accumulated thousands of listeners across the nation and has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 on the podcast app from more than 4,200 reviews.
When asked about how his experience at BYU benefits his career, Jackson says, “Devouring academic monographs, critically assessing sources, writing with clarity — these are some of the crucial skills that have enabled me to build History That Doesn’t Suck into what it is today, and I wouldn’t have that skill set without the attentive mentorship of several professors in BYU’s history and French programs.”
In his podcast, Jackson depicts the history of America in a way that both showcases his love for his country and the important individuals in its history. However, he is also honest and shows both sides of the story — the beautiful and the challenging. He is teaching Americans that this doesn’t have to be a perfect country for it to be cherished and loved.
Jackson’s advice for social science students is to, “Network, network, network!” He adds that an education in social sciences can set you apart from the crowd because employers want strong writers, thinkers, and hard-working problem solvers.
“This is especially true in a world where AI can increasingly do the less critical-thinking jobs (including low-level technical writing),” says Jackson.
Jackson went from pursuing something he loved to transforming that passion into something he loves to do. He is currently on tour with a live presentation of History that Doesn’t Suck.
“I am beyond grateful for the unique path my career has taken,” says Jackson. “If someone were to have told me I’d be doing what I am today when I was a young BYU student, I never would’ve believed it. I probably would have laughed! Yet, during those same formative years, BYU faculty were preparing me for my unknown future path.”
Reach out to social science career directors to consider more options for your own career path.