The SAA Archaeological Record March 2011 : Page 5

CAREERS IN ARCHAEOLOGY FOREWORD IN EVERY CAREER, A STORY Nicolas R. Laracuente and A. Gwynn Henderson Nicolas R. Laracuente is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky and Co-Chair of the PEC Careers in Archaeology Task Group. A. Gwynn Henderson is Staff Archaeologist and Education Coordinator at the Kentucky Archaeological Survey and Co-Chair of the PEC Careers in Archaeology Task Group. Have you ever found yourself in one of these situations? It’s career day at Henry W. Jones, Jr. Elementary School, and you have come prepared to play down the stereotypical archaeology career of the school’s namesake. But when one student asks “What do archaeologists do?,” you find yourself f at a loss to provide an adequate answer to her simple question. **** Spring Semester: a time when graduating Anthropology y majors appear in your office, full of questions about summer r plans and “The Future.” Those with an interest in archaeol-ogy ask the same question: “What kind of job can I get with my degree?” **** After sharing stories of your archaeological field adventures with friends at your reunion, you realize, with disbelief, that t you haven’t actually used that trowel of yours in years. “What t kind of archaeologist AM I, now?” you wonder. What DO archaeologists do in the twenty-first century? What t kinds of jobs and careers ARE they working at? The SAA Board of Directors wanted to know, and they figured one way y to find out would be to simply ask. So, the Board charged the Public Education Committee (PEC) with this task. This issue of The SAA Archaeological Record is the result. We generated a list of contexts within which archaeologists work today: museums, government (federal, state, and city), and the private sector. Then we listed job types within each context— for example, collection managers, SHPOs, city archaeologists, nonprofit fundraisers, administrators, and teachers. To add even more variety, we considered areas of f analytical/experiential expertise, such as rock art analyst, forensics, blogger/techie, preservation law. We filled in the categories with names of people we knew or had heard of, either through personal meeting or through reputation— a name would suggest a job not listed; a job list-ed would suggest a name. We wanted our sample to reflect a diversity of employment contexts and career paths, an even mix of men and women, and a range in career length: we considered newly established archaeologists and those in more mature careers. We also attempted to ensure geographic coverage of all regions in the Western Hemisphere served by the SAA (United States, Canada, and Latin America) and an evenhanded regional U.S. distribution. Candidates also had to exhibit an important qualification that had nothing to do with their career: they had to be able to write an engaging article. We specifically did not consider individuals who, in our opinion, had pursued a traditional academic archaeological career path (e.g., someone who, upon graduation or shortly y thereafter, began teaching at a four-year college or universi-ty). We felt everyone was acquainted with a career of this sort. We also did not consider any retired archaeologists. Over 120 nominees later, we were left with the “simple” task k of culling the list. But how do you pluck just 12 individuals (and 12 alternates) from a sea of archaeologists? Who do you choose? Operationalizing the Asking Guided by Board input provided by The SAA Archaeological l Record editor Jane Baxter, the nine-member Careers in Archaeology Task Group outlined the project’s goals, pur-pose, and intended outcomes. Because twenty-first-century y careers in archaeology are as diverse as the cultures and time periods we study, we chose to focus on career diversity. We wanted to push the boundaries of what people think of when “archaeologist” comes to mind. We also wanted to challenge ourselves to think more creatively about what we think we can do as archaeologists. March 2011 • The SAA Archaeological Record 5

Foreword :In Every Career, A Story

Nicolas R. Laracuente and A. Gwynn Henderson

Nicolas R. Laracuente is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky and Co-Chair of the PEC Careers in Archaeology Task Group. A. Gwynn Henderson is Staff Archaeologist and Education Coordinator at the Kentucky Archaeological Survey and Co-Chair of the PEC Careers in Archaeology Task Group.<br /> <br /> A. Gwynn Henderson is Staff Archaeologist and Education Coordinator at the Kentucky Archaeological Survey and Co-Chair of the PEC Careers in Archaeology Task Group.<br /> <br /> Have you ever found yourself in one of these situations? <br /> <br /> It's career day at Henry W. Jones, Jr. Elementary School, and you have come prepared to play down the stereotypical archaeology career of the school's namesake. But when one student asks "What do archaeologists do?," you find yourself at a loss to provide an adequate answer to her simple question.<br /> ****<br /> <br /> Spring Semester: a time when graduating Anthropology majors appear in your office, full of questions about summer plans and "The Future." Those with an interest in archaeology ask the same question: "What kind of job can I get with my degree?" <br /> ****<br /> <br /> After sharing stories of your archaeological field adventures with friends at your reunion, you realize, with disbelief, that you haven't actually used that trowel of yours in years. "What kind of archaeologist AM I, now?" you wonder. What DO archaeologists do in the twenty-first century? What kinds of jobs and careers ARE they working at? The SAA Board of Directors wanted to know, and they figured one way to find out would be to simply ask. So, the Board charged the Public Education Committee (PEC) with this task. This issue of The SAA Archaeological Record is the result.<br /> <br /> Operationalizing the Asking<br /> <br /> Guided by Board input provided by The SAA Archaeological Record editor Jane Baxter, the nine-member Careers in Archaeology Task Group outlined the project's goals, purpose, and intended outcomes. Because twenty-first-century careers in archaeology are as diverse as the cultures and time periods we study, we chose to focus on career diversity. We wanted to push the boundaries of what people think of when "archaeologist" comes to mind. We also wanted to challenge ourselves to think more creatively about what we think we can do as archaeologists.<br /> <br /> We generated a list of contexts within which archaeologists work today: museums, government (federal, state, and city), and the private sector. Then we listed job types within each context– for example, collection managers, SHPOs, city archaeologists, nonprofit fundraisers, administrators, and teachers. To add even more variety, we considered areas of analytical/experiential expertise, such as rock art analyst, forensics, blogger/techie, preservation law.<br /> <br /> We filled in the categories with names of people we knew or had heard of, either through personal meeting or through reputation– a name would suggest a job not listed; a job listed would suggest a name.<br /> <br /> We wanted our sample to reflect a diversity of employment contexts and career paths, an even mix of men and women, and a range in career length: we considered newly established archaeologists and those in more mature careers. We also attempted to ensure geographic coverage of all regions in the Western Hemisphere served by the SAA (United States, Canada, and Latin America) and an evenhanded regional U.S. distribution. Candidates also had to exhibit an important qualification that had nothing to do with their career: they had to be able to write an engaging article.<br /> <br /> We specifically did not consider individuals who, in our opinion, had pursued a traditional academic archaeological career path (e.g., someone who, upon graduation or shortly thereafter, began teaching at a four-year college or university). We felt everyone was acquainted with a career of this sort. We also did not consider any retired archaeologists.<br /> <br /> Over 120 nominees later, we were left with the "simple" task of culling the list. But how do you pluck just 12 individuals (and 12 alternates) from a sea of archaeologists? Who do you choose?<br /> <br /> To assist in making our final selections, we "dug-up" as much information as we could on our nominees through Google. We asked Task Group members to make a case for a nominee by preparing a brief written statement. Then we held a very long conference call and made our selections.<br /> <br /> Early in the process, Jane Baxter offered a way to attend to the inevitable oversights that arose, for these 12 essays represent only 0.2 percent of the 7,000+ SAA membership. During her tenure, subsequent issues of The SAA Archaeological Record will feature an occasional "Careers in Archaeology" column. The same questions posed to these 12 archaeologists will guide our subsequent authors.<br /> <br /> The Asking<br /> <br /> Like the author-selection process, the set of questions also went through a process of "list and weed." Task Group members offered suggestions and, through discussion, we generated others. We also consulted two outside sources: "Interviews with Archaeologists" on the Society for California Archaeology's (2010) website and "Profile of an Archaeologist" in Intrigue of the Past (Smith et al. 1996).<br /> <br /> We wanted the questions to open a window into the authors' day-to-day activities but, at the same time, challenge them to reflect on the arc of their careers and the path(s) that took them to the place they are now. We hoped the questions would encourage the authors to provide insights to those just starting out, guidance to those who advise, and with luck, perhaps inspiration to those whose careers might need reenergizing.<br /> <br /> By rejecting, collapsing, and essentializing, we whittled down our initial list of 21 questions (!) to the following ten:<br /> <br /> About You <br /> <br /> 1. When and why did you decide to become an archaeologist? <br /> <br /> 2. Did a mentor dramatically influence your career? How so?<br /> <br /> About Your Schooling/Training <br /> <br /> 3. To what extent did your academic training prepare you for your current position? <br /> <br /> 4. To what extent did your previous job experiences prepare you for your current position? 5. Since you began your current job, have you pursued additional studies or training within or outside of archaeology? What did you do and why?<br /> <br /> About Your Current Job <br /> <br /> 6. How did you arrive at your current position? <br /> <br /> 7. What is your typical day like? <br /> <br /> 8. What is the most rewarding or memorable experience you've had in your current position? <br /> <br /> 9. What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced in your current position?<br /> <br /> Advice You'd Give <br /> <br /> 10. What advice would you offer to someone thinking of pursuing a similar career in archaeology?<br /> <br /> And Now...To The Essays <br /> <br /> The authors provided us exactly what we were looking for– personal stories of careers in archaeology– and more than fulfilled our hopes. These essays reflect the authors' enthusiasm for what they do, and speak with candor of responsibilities and dreams, of service and life-long learning. Tidbits of wisdom and inspiration are on every page.<br /> <br /> So, enjoy! Then, since archaeology is all about patterns, in our Afterword, we consider some of the patterns and themes we recognized in this group of essays.<br /> <br /> References Cited <br /> <br /> Smith, Shelley J., Jeanne M. Moe, Kelly A. Letts, and Danielle M. Paterson<br /> <br /> 1996 <br /> <br /> Lesson 17: Archaeology As A Career. In Intrigue of the Past: A Teacher's Activity Guide for Fourth Through Seventh Grades, by Shelley J. Smith, Jeanne M. Moe, Kelly A. Letts, and Danielle M. Paterson, pp. 89–94. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Washington, D.C.<br /> <br /> Society for California Archaeology <br /> <br /> 2010 <br /> <br /> Interviews with Archaeologists. Electronic document, http://www.scahome.org/about_ca_archaeology/index.htm l#interviews. Accessed November 14, 2010.

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