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Why Students Should Attend the AAA Careers Expo

Today’s guest blog post is by Kyle Simpson. Kyle is a graduate student in Anthropology at the University of Memphis.

When I tell people that I am working towards a Master’s Degree in Anthropology, the question is always the same, “What are you going to do with that?” I usually laugh and tell them that after my MA I plan to get a PhD and then teach at a university. But the truth is, like many graduate students, I don’t know what jobs are available to anthropologists outside of the academy.

2012 Careers Expo

2012 Careers Expo

This is why I’m looking forward to attending this year’s AAA meetings in Chicago. I’ve never been to our profession’s annual conference but will be attending this year. The event I’m most excited about is the Careers Expo. Each year, the NAPA/AAA-CoPAPIA sponsored Careers Expo brings together a variety of professional anthropologists representing widely diverse career paths. They have found employment in government, private, and non-profit organizations. In previous years, there have been representatives from Veteran’s Administration, Centers for Disease Control, Yahoo, Sapient, State Farm, CRM firms like ACE and SRI, and anthropological consulting firms like LTG Associates. While it is not a job fair, the Careers Expo provides a great opportunity for networking with practicing/professional anthropologists. Until recently, I was unaware that most of the work being conducted by anthropologists takes place outside of the academy, but several studies have shown that the vast majority of anthropologists do not work in the academic setting. Therefore, it is important for students to get a better sense of what they can do with their degree. The Careers Expo seems like the perfect way to learn about the diverse career options for graduating MA and PhD students.

Attendees will be exposed to a variety of anthropological career paths and will also have the opportunity to talk to anthropologists who have made the transition from the academy to practice. This is a chance to ask questions about making that transition, why you should think about pursuing a career in practice, and how to prepare yourself before graduating for a career in practice. Because this is not a job fair, there is no pressure on attendees. This should allow students to feel more comfortable in their interactions with exhibitors because the environment is informal and the conversations are casual.

The Careers Expo is one of the most heavily attended events at the AAAs. I heard that over 500 people attended it last year and the AAA expects even more to attend this year!

This year the Careers Expo will be held on Friday, November 22nd from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Exhibit Hall at the Chicago Hilton. To register, click here. I look forward to seeing you there!

3 Responses

  1. This looks to be a very valuable event for all students in Anthropology. “What are you going to do with that?” is likely the top question to most students within the social sciences and liberal arts.

    In my experience, as a former Anthropology student and researcher, the most important skill to acquire to secure your unique place in the competitive job market is flexibility — and an unrelenting praxis (if you will) of passion into experience. In every ounce of your free time, do what you love, learn to communicate this, network, and don’t be afraid to do work for free.

    I love the intellectual fruits of my labor while in my degree, and they have been a strong agent in my early experiences and beginning opportunities, but what will translate into a job will be your steadfast work ethic, ability to communicate/network, and genuine passions. Our discipline teaches us to think critically, to see problems in new ways, and to communicate. Forge your own unique path. It is difficult, but can lead to the best opportunities to create a career that is the most meaningful to you. I feel very fortunate to have been able to do this so far.

  2. The website link that you have provided does not have a registration page. Where is it exactly that one can register ?

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