BU's anthropology program is designed to provide majors with two kinds of educational experience — to give pre-professional training for those students who wish to pursue graduate study in anthropology and to give a good liberal arts background to those students who are not interested in a graduate education. To date, the anthropology program has been very successful in meeting these goals.
BU students have successfully entered and participated in quality graduate programs in anthropology, while other anthropology majors have been able to obtain rewarding employment with a B.A. degree, usually in a social service area. The anthropology faculty is prepared to tailor an anthropology curriculum to best meet the needs of each individual student, and, when feasible, to provide vocational guidance. By selecting anthropology as a major, a student has not limited his/her career options, but has only begun to explore a range of vocational opportunities.
Anthropology major completes Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Office internship
My name is Gabrielle Vielhauer. I am a student at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania where I am studying anthropology. From September to December 2012, I was pleased to be selected to participate in The Harrisburg Intern Semester (THIS) program sponsored by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). This program places one student representative from each university, within the state system, with an office of the legislature or in a government agency.
For my internship, I was placed in the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Office (PA HPO) which also serves as the State Historic Preservation Office. During my internship, I worked with the staff members of the Cultural Resource Geographic Information System (CRGIS) for roughly 37 hours per week. Before working in CRGIS, I will admit that the historical markers program and the State Museum were the only things I knew about in regards to Historic Preservation in Pennsylvania. Working with the CRGIS, I quickly realized how much the PA HPO does on a daily basis to research, understand and protect significant historical and archaeological resources in the Commonwealth.
Vielhauer: Yes, You Can!
One of the first lessons you learn as an undergraduate majoring in anthropology is how to effectively answer questions such as, “So what are you going to do with that?” and “Are there even jobs in that?” These questions in addition to an extremely competitive job market in most fields would undoubtedly make even the most passionate student of Anthropology nervous. However, a new report has suggested that it may be easier to become employed as an anthropologist than what was once thought due to a growing job market in Anthropology.
What can I do with a degree in Anthropology?
The timing of this question is all-important. If a student waits until the last semester of the senior year to ask questions like this one, the options available will definitely be limited. The anthropology faculty suggests that another approach be taken.
First, a student should begin to ask, "What would I like to do?" Hopefully, at some point in a student's university experience he/she will be exposed to a career option that will seem right to that individual. For most students, this probably occurs not once, but several times. In order to make an informed decision, ask your anthropology advisor about the career in which you have an interest. Your advisor should be able to steer you toward more information to help you decide on a vocation.
Once you have a career (or several) in mind, your advisor and you can work toward a generalized question, "How can I use anthropology to help me prepare for a career in X?" It may be that the answer to this question will be, "I can't." If so, your advisor will suggest that you contact someone in another department — and that you pursue a minor in anthropology instead.
But assuming your career choice and anthropology are compatible, there are several things you (with your advisor's advice) can do:
- Do some research on your career choice.
It is amazing how many students make a career choice as an undergraduate without really knowing what their choice implies! Find out what you are getting into! The Andruss Library has a number of materials which describe careers--the reference librarians can show you where to look. There may be a national association for your career choice--write to it for information. Talk to people who are already pursuing the career you are interested in; they will give you the best point of view on what the career actually entails. Find out if certain courses are recommended or if certain kinds of experience are suggested. You can then shape your anthropology program accordingly.
- Sign up for a second major.
When the anthropology faculty surveyed its graduates in 1980, the most common piece of advice given to undergraduates by anthropology alumni was to pursue a second major. Obviously a second major expands your career options. It is also an unfortunate fact that potential employers are more familiar with words like "psychology" and "sociology" than they are with "anthropology"; too many people still think that all anthropologists know about are bones or spear-toting natives. So, if you have a strong interest in another major, whether it be psychology or mathematics or Spanish or whatever, think about a second major. Fortunately a BU curriculum has plenty of room for pursuing a second major in most cases.
- Sign up for a minor or a career concentration.
In recent years, BU has opened a wide variety of options for students who wish to pursue an area of study or who wish to make themselves more employable--but who don't want to major in that area. Most minors specify an 18 credit program; the fulfillment of a minor will be noted on your transcript. Career concentrations are a collection of courses selected to give students a concentrated background in no specific major program at BU. It is possible, if courses are selected carefully, to pursue a major, a minor, and a career concentration.
- Sign up for internships.
Internships give students practical experience in a career area for college credit. The anthropology internship course is 46.496; additional credit can be obtained, should you pursue two or more internships in your undergraduate career, through the course 47.498, internship in the Social Sciences. Internships can be pursued in any semester, including the summer; they can be off-campus entirely or combined with on-campus studies. Anthropology students have been involved in quite a variety of internships including placement in the Bethlehem Police Department, the Easter Seal Society, the William Penn Museum in Harrisburg, and the Geisinger Medical Center. Obviously, internships provide experience and contacts. Internships are usually initiated by students seeking out opportunities in an agency or profession; the university's Internship Coordinator and your anthropology advisor can give you ideas. Most internships are done as volunteer work, but it is possible that a paid internship can be arranged through the Cooperative Education Program.
- Consider other ways to make yourself a desirable candidate for a career.
For most positions there will be at least some competition. What could you tell an employer that would make him/her want to hire you as opposed to someone else? For instance, computer skills are increasingly important. You might want to think about how you could pick up at least a basic knowledge in computers. Given the great demand at BU for relatively few openings in computer science, this may mean enrolling for courses at your local community college in the summer. Perhaps you could demonstrate an ability with statistics or graphic design or leadership skills picked up through extra-curricular activities. While this doesn't mean that everything you do at BU has to be calculated for its future career benefits, it does mean that you should do more than obtain 36 credits in anthropology.