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Anthropology and Museum Studies

Handbook: Careers

An old- fashioned view of anthropologists is that they are devoted to studying "unusual" customs in "strange" places, digging up the remains of ancient civilizations with the verve of Indiana Jones, or buried in the collections departments of large museums. Only a small number of anthropology graduates actually fit these stereotypes.

Today, most work in fields which require a broad and sympathetic understanding of human beings: as directors of a variety of community service programs for youth or elderly, especially those serving ethnic minority populations, as administrators in drug rehabilitation centers or programs for the disabled. Others direct development or planning programs in various levels of state, city and federal government or in international organizations such as the Peace Corps, while still others work in business or industry applying specialized understanding of the biological or cultural aspects of humans.

Many students enhance their anthropological training with specialized study or a dual major in fields such as sociology or social work, biology, education, geology, psychology, public health or communications. Graduate level training is generally necessary for employment in post-secondary teaching, and for supervisory work in the sub-fields of anthropology.

Seeking Your First Job Opportunities

If nothing else, your undergraduate experience should teach you about your interests and inclinations. Constantly seek to relate your academic anthropological experience to your future life goals and the world outside of your present community. Keep track of your changing interests and attitudes. Where will you work (urban or rural setting, in the U.S. or abroad)? Ho w well do you communicate and work with others? Are you motivated by issues such as quality of life, salary, personal and family relationships, and/or helping others?

Many opportunities that will add to your job experience are posted on bulletin boards around the department. Students should also work closely with their faculty advisor to seek internships and cooperative work positions.

Career Development Services can help counsel you on your career objectives, arrange co-op and internship positions, and help you find job related information and job placement. Research, perseverance and ingenuity are mandatory (see "Getting a Job Outside the Academy," "Anthropology and Jobs: A Guide for Undergraduates," or "Careers in Anthropology").

Community service jobs are another popular choice for many anthropology majors. Openings are often limited, however, and finding a position that suits you may take some time. One way to obtain such a position is to do volunteer work fo r an agency while one is still in school and work one's way into a paying position. Another way is to gain job experience in a particular area of social service through VISTA or Peace Corps, or any action-oriented, community organization which will help qualify you for future jobs.

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