Back in the days of my Masters program, I took a class title "Problems in American History 1877-1917". Seeing that I am really, really interested in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (and the fact that graduate classes that interested me were at times few and far between), I decided to sign up. I hoped that industrialization, unionization, or some other similar topic would be on tap. I checked the book list online and found that this was not to be.
The book list included a wide variety of books about women on the frontier. I have to confess that I generally do not have a big interest in women's or gender history, but seeing the other classes on the schedule that particular semester, I decided to stick it out.
The main paper for the class turned out to be a case study that tested the validity of any claim made by one of the authors we had to read during the class. I was not terrible interested in the assignment, but at least we got to choose the topic ourselves. I proceeded to utilize the texts from the course (as well as some other outside readings) to investigate whether women had more job opportunities open to them in the American West. From what I could find, it seemed that the job opportunities were quite similar with those available in the Northeast or the South. This was the main argument of the paper.
I left the paper alone for about four years. When I began my studies at UND, I decided to send an abstract of the paper to the Northern Great Plains History Conference, which was then being held in Grand Forks. I got on the program and read this paper. I also sent it to Emporia University in Kansas, to see if they would publish it in one of their journals. While I did not get it into the publication I first inquired about, they did agree to post it as an open-access article on their website. While it's not the American Historical Review or The Historian, it is a publication that can go on the CV. Here is a link to my latest publication at Prairie Voices of my paper titled "Workin' Nine to Five in the West? Western Women and Work, 1865-1945". The moral of the story is that papers for classes that may not seem to be worth much can actually add to one's professional vitae, which definitely helps in job searches.