Your Parents Were Wrong: How to Do Almost Anything With Your Anthropology Degree

These days, finding a great job with your college degree can be a challenge. This is especially true for those of us who have obtained, or are in the process of obtaining a degree in the social sciences. As a result, it is of the utmost importance that recent and potential college graduates take some time to review the knowledge, experience and skills they gained over their years of higher learning.

Of the many majors currently being offered in social sciences, Anthropology is perhaps the most stigmatized for having little relevance in today’s job market. As globalization gradually overwhelms and consolidates the many distinct cultures carefully studied by anthropologists, direct opportunities for careers in the field of Anthropology are becoming few and far between.

Skills and Qualifications of an Anthropologist

While this may be an unfortunate turn of events for students who have learned to thrive in the field, now is an excellent time for budding anthropologists to evaluate what they’ve learned in order to start applying these skills and qualifications to related jobs or career paths. Like anyone who might be struggling on today’s job market with a degree that many might falsely believe to be impractical, with a little creativity and critical thinking, finding the right career with a degree in Anthropology is more possible than one might assume.

1. Critical Thinking

Like many other majors in the social sciences, studying Anthropology is one of the greatest ways to develop critical thinking skills. Moreover, having a firm grounding in critical thinking is a big plus for employers that want to know that their employees can hit the ground running without much training or supervision.

2. Writing and Research

In addition to critical thinking, an Anthropology degree proves the mastery of one of the most important skill sets of the 21st century: writing and researching. As the world’s information gradually becomes stored on the World Wide Web, having the capability to dredge through the enormous amount of information online and summarize it clearly and concisely are make or break career skills. With a background in Anthropology, graduates can prove to potential employers that they are prepared to filter large amounts of quality (and not-so quality) information into a well-written summary, report or presentation.   

3. Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity

Perhaps one of the most distinct skills earned by student anthropologists is a rich cultural awareness and sensitivity – an increasingly important skill to have in today’s world. As domestic businesses and professionals slowly adapt to the stress and demands of working with their foreign counterparts, students of anthropology can confidently tell employers that understanding cultural differences is their forte. Having this distinguished cultural skill set proves to employers that graduates in the field of Anthropology have a huge head start when it comes to dealing effectively with colleagues, partners and clients of various origins.

How to Land a Job with an Anthropology Degree

The skills outlined above are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the overall value of one’s education in Anthropology. As students begin thinking about and crafting their cover letters, resumes and/or CVs to submit to potential employers, highlighting the above skills, as well as several others that may be relevant to the position is of prime importance. An excellent resource created by the College of New Jersey outlines several tips and strategies for Sociology and Anthropology majors who are looking to build the most effective resume for their career search.

1. Prepare a Resume and Network with a Diverse Group of Professionals

In conjunction with preparing a world-class cover letter and resume, networking with others both inside and outside of the field is also a great way to get ahead in today’s job market. The sheer number of networking opportunities available to anthropologists via social networks is astounding, to say the least. Making connections with others and understanding how those connections can function in the best way possible is an anthropologist’s key ability. This interdisciplinary blog on the social sciences showcases several helpful articles and resources to help anthropologists hone their affinity for social networking in the best possible way.

2. Research the Job Market to Find the Perfect Work Environment

Now that the preliminary stages of preparing the Anthropology major for the job market have been covered, knowing which jobs to pursue will require a bit more work.  Of the many career options that are currently available, teaching and social services stand as two of the most popular career pathways for graduating anthropologists. In addition to these popular options, anthropologists have experienced tremendous success in government, law, media, marketing and art/artifact preservation, just to name a few. A resource published by Rasmussen College offers an extensive list of links to help Anthropology majors research and determine which career path is best for them.

3. Opt for an Advanced Degree

Many graduating anthropologists may decide to bypass the job route altogether and pursue a graduate or doctoral education in Anthropology, which is also a popular option for students who wish to remain squarely within the field. There certainly is no shortage of graduate programs in Anthropology offered by accredited institutions throughout the United States. Moreover, taking the grad school route gives students the opportunity to hone their knowledge in the field and begin presenting their own unique ideas in higher level academic forums, as well as publishing research articles for several prestigious journals.

Having the patience and know-how to navigate the tangled web of career opportunities for Anthropology majors is essential when planning to land a potentially life-long career after college. These decisions should not be taken lightly, and every Anthropology major should begin career planning well in advance of their graduation date. Internships and research assistantships are a great way to test your mettle in the field of Anthropology, and should be taken advantage of whenever possible. In the end, knowing where you fit in today’s job market with a degree in Anthropology is a sure-fire way to land a great career in no time.

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