“What do you do with that?” Anthropology majors get this question a hundred times during their academic career. The subject of anthropology is broad, and its public perception can be vague. People often assume that an anthropology student’s choice of work is limited to teaching, museums, or “Indiana Jones” films. These are stereotypes, of course. But even students of anthropology sometimes find themselves asking: What am I going to do with this degree?
On Thursday, April 12th, approximately 60 students were in attendance at “Career Night: Anthropology at Work in the World” — an event organized by the anthropology development committee, and spearheaded by Professor Janelle Taylor. The evening began with a brief overview from a representative from the UW Career and Internship Center, followed by Taylor providing a summary to students to help them think about how they can translate their anthropology field training to other fields of work. "Studying anthropology,” Taylor said afterward, “gives students knowledge and skills that can be incredibly useful in a really wide range of different settings, but the major is not a 'conveyor belt' to a specific job, so students need to be proactive and creative about finding their path forward from undergraduate studies to whatever will come next. We as a department want to do what we can to support our students, help them make the best possible use of the many resources UW has to offer, and help them begin to think creatively about how they will carry their learning from anthropology forward into the world. This career night is one of the ways that we try to provide that support."
A panel of anthropology graduates who are putting their degrees to use in a variety of fields were on hand, and they came prepared to speak on the following topics:
What kind of work do you do?
How does it draw on your background in anthropology?
How did you find your way into this work?
What advice would you offer to current anthropology students?
For two and a half hours, the group was able to talk to and receive advice from the panel, whose speakers included Heather Clark, Seth Gililland, Marlaine Gray, Bob Kopperl, and Jessica Mogk. These speakers provided helpful insights on the importance of networking, and about how individual drive and passion can lead students to their next career — or careers. “The main lesson I took,” said attendee Namkuk Paul Hur, “was to be flexible and malleable and most importantly, network!” If you have your own questions on what to do with anthropology, the Career Center in Mary Gates Hall offers a range of services for current and former students.