Alumni Spotlight: Patrick Zander, Writer and History Professor
Posted May 10, 2022
Name: Patrick G. Zander
Graduation year: 2009
Degrees: M.S. and Ph.D in History and Sociology of Technology and Science (HSTS)
Company: Georgia Gwinnett College
1. What do you do?
I am an associate professor of history.
2. What’s the coolest part of your job?
The coolest part of my job is teaching young students about history and its importance to our understanding. History, after all, attempts to teach us the biggest lessons of all: What is the world like, and how did it get that way.
3. Why are you passionate about this work?
I am most passionate about teaching for the thrill it provides when young people (and older people) come alive to learning about their world. But, I am also very passionate about research and writing books. While so much in our lives is temporary, publishing a book about history is a kind of permanent addition to the world’s knowledge, or at least your own take on that particular subject.
4. How did you find your job/what’s the best resource for jobs or networking you’ve found?
I was incredibly lucky in that in the year I went on the market, there were only two jobs across the country that were appropriate for me (and that I would have been willing to take). One was here in Atlanta at Georgia Gwinnett College, and I got it. I simply used H-net for the jobs site, and there it was. Again, I was very fortunate.
5. What’s the most surprising detour you’ve taken from your career path? What did you learn from it?
The most surprising detour is the one I’ve only JUST taken, which is that I’ve published a work of historical fiction — a novel. What I’ve learned is, first, how much I love the process of writing a novel, and second, how incredibly difficult it is to break into the world of mainstream fiction — It is not for the faint of heart! HA!!
6. What’s the greatest challenge you’ve faced since graduating, and how did you overcome it?
The greatest challenge was surviving without benefits while I was looking for a “permanent” tenure track job. I overcame it by teaching at multiple institutions as an adjunct professor — enough classes so that I could make my way financially. This meant six to eight classes per semester and was quite difficult. It meant a great deal of work, but it also piled up a great deal of teaching experience which helped me when it came to applying for permanent positions.
7. What’s your #1 tip for students and alumni interested in your field?
My number one tip is a simple one, but I would simply say that if you are going to pursue this career path — academic history — make certain you are passionate about it. The job market is, of course, extremely tough, so you will go through difficulty to get to your destination. So be sure you are absolutely committed before you take that on.
8. Can HSOC students and alum contact you if they’re interested in following in your footsteps?
Yes, by all means! My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Patrick!
Check out more HSOC alumni spotlights with Sybrina Atwaters, Jonah Bea-Taylor, Marcela Moreno, Danielle Sharpe, and Emily Gibson Blevins, and stay tuned on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter for new ones every month!
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