Professionalism and Networking in CRM: Reflecting on a Panel Discussion

Special thanks to our Applied Archaeology Advisory Board: Chris Espenshade-PI, Skelly and Loy; Terry Klein-VP, SRI Foundation; Kate Marcopul-New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office; Ira Beckerman-Cultural Resources Unit Chief, PennDOT (just retired in October); Wade Catts–South River Heritage Consulting.

On Nov. 7, 2018 our Applied Archaeology Advisory Board lead a panel discussion titled “Professionalism and Networking in CRM.”  Essentially, what you should and should not do when trying to get a job or when working in CRM.  In this post, I hope to pass along some of the things that I learned from this discussion.  It is not an all-encompassing list (someone forgot to grab their notebook from the van) but some of the more important points are still rattling around in my head.  So, without further ado, a list of things (with my patented flow of consciousness) to keep in mind when trying to work in archaeology.

  1. Networking is essential, people tend to get jobs because they know somebody who knows somebody. This sounds obvious, particularly for a professional in a field of social science (social being the key word here).  Conferences are a great way to do this, the downside is that they’re expensive.  There are ways to cut some costs as a student (depending on your department) but this leads to the next point.
  2. Get your name known. As a fresh face in the archaeology job market, how do you get known?  Again, this can go back to conferences.  If you can present at a conference, do it.  This is when you can probably apply for funding through your department and cut costs.  Even if you just present a poster, it’s worth it.  People will come to you when presenting a poster and this is a great way to not only network but let your name be seen in an environment that shows you take the field seriously.  As an addition to presenting posters, keep a stack of business cards with you, maybe a stack of resumes, and give them out.  Sure, you may never get a call about a job that way, but this gets your name out there.  If you can’t get to as many conferences as you’d like, then get yourself published.  Maybe you just graduated with an M.A. in Applied Archaeology, you have a thesis, so what do you do with it?  Get a summary published and share what you’ve worked so hard on.  Another option is to get book reviews published.  Reach out to a journal and see if they have a list of books they would like reviewed.  It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get published but not a lot of folks like to do book reviews, so you probably have a good chance (plus you might even get a free book, never say no to a free book).
  3. Resumes and CVs are your first impression to a potential employer (duh). Tailor your resume/CV to fit the company and the job you’re seeking.  Save a little time for yourself and make a full resume, write down everything you can think of, and use it to copy and paste to the resume you want to send out.  Still have people look at it, this just saves you from rewriting everything.  Another thought, think twice about putting your picture on it, I don’t know why anyone would, but it puts people off.  Last thought, put serious consideration into your cover letter.  Try not to paint yourself as an expert in something when the job doesn’t require that, leave it listed in your resume.  Also, treat it like a sample of your technical writing skills because employers do.
  4. Interviews – Learn about the company before going in. Be inquisitive, at the very least ask those cookie-cutter questions like what typical work hours are like or the dress code, show that you’re interested.  Better yet, ask about what the company does besides what you’re applying for.  Beyond this, be thoughtful in your answers and take a minute to think if you need to.  It would be better to be known for taking a moment to respond with something meaningful than blurting out the first, possibly unrelated, thing you can think of.  To use one of my favorite phrases, a closed mouth gathers no foot.
  5. Working – Congratulations, you got a job! What now?  Keep your wits about you, as someone with a graduate degree you’re expected to be able to learn quickly.  You will not know everything, no program will teach you everything, so take things as they come.  If there’s something you don’t know about, try to learn about it on your own but there is nothing wrong with asking questions when you need to.  It’s better to ask first and deal with whatever you must versus making a mistake that you might not be able to fix later.  Also, show your competence at work.  I’m not trying to sound harsh here but that could mean the difference in keeping your job or not at the end of the field season.

Again, special thanks to our Applied Archaeology Advisory Board for this discussion along with giving our students a chance to network.

IUP Anthropology Department

Public Outreach In Archaeology, Are We Doing Enough?

Something that I have been thinking about recently is public outreach in archaeology.  It may in part be because we’re about two weeks past International Archaeology Day and our open house (which you can read more about by scrolling to the previous blog) or that I’ve recently read some articles on the subject for class.  Not that this is only reason I’ve been thinking about public outreach, but it may just be what has brought it to the forefront.  I wanted to share a few thoughts and I apologize now if this turns more into a flow of consciousness than an informative piece.

Public outreach seems like such a simple idea, you find a way to share your fieldwork, research, and findings with non-archaeologists.  You share what hopefully makes you enthusiastic and get people engaged.  We tend to make this far more difficult than it needs to be, and sometimes for good reasons.  To paraphrase Joe Baker of PennDOT in his 2017 PAC Symposium Presentation, we are not all experts in public communication and that’s perfectly fine.  It may be that only a small percentage of archaeologists are comfortable with and can effectively engage the public, again this is perfectly fine.  In my time with the IUP Anthropology Department, both as an undergrad and a graduate student, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting peers and professionals that are brilliant in their own right but I could not imagine them working in public outreach.  Sure, anyone can post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit, Snapchat, YouTube, or any of the other dozens of social media platforms or hundreds of blog sites and I encourage it.  There’s significance in spreading information and this is something most of us can do with ease and spread to non-archaeologist audiences.  However, not everyone that’s posting about archaeology should be a communication professional.  We do not all have the necessary interpersonal skills and that’s just how things are.

Public outreach is an important issue for many of us.  The Society for American Archaeology has a set of principles and ethics that they would urge all professional archaeologists to follow.  The very first principle is stewardship and can be broken into two portions.  Stewards are both caretakers and advocates of the archaeological record for the benefit of all people.  The first portion is not much of an issue, though I could argue that we have fallen behind since the increase of archaeology for the sake of salvaging sites, but that’s a blog for another day.  The point on advocating for archaeology is where I think that we have fallen behind.  There are devout advocates who I applaud for what they do even if I take issue with a method or two.  What about the average archaeologist though?  What can they do to fulfill this principle and how can they aid public outreach?  There’s not a true answer, but I think the best way would be by getting people involved from the beginning.  If there are groups already invested, talk to them, see what they would want to know.  I don’t mean to say we should do everything they ask, there’s only so much time and money to go around, but this would be a potential way to get more people interested.  Their questions may even become the basis of new research questions.  Another option could be to open sites to the public for more than just one day a field season or an archaeology day style event at the end.  I wouldn’t call it uncommon to open a site up to visitors and interested peoples, but it’s limited.  During my field school at Squirrel Hill, we never advertised a day when people could come in and learn along with us.  That didn’t stop people from finding us and we, I should just say Dr. Messer, would be more than happy to talk to the few that showed up.  Careful of what we would say, particularly around a couple of older gentlemen who were openly pothunters.  These are the kind of people we both want and don’t want to talk to and they are the kind of folks that I believe add to our cautiousness when involving a site.  I think we are afraid of letting people into sites because of the potential damage immediately or future through additional looting.  But if we can teach people the importance of archaeology and why they shouldn’t loot, do we really have to worry so much?  I honestly don’t know, but I’d like to believe that we wouldn’t have to worry as much.

Again, I feel that we as archaeologists have fallen behind on that second portion of stewardship.  It seems to me that instances of public outreach aren’t necessarily planned that well, more like they are hastily tacked onto the end of a field season.  Something that we can still pat ourselves on the back for and say we did something.  The fact is, we could do more, and I believe we should.  What exactly?  That’s up for debate, the possibilities are only limited by our imaginations.  An archaeology day open house is great, so is opening a site to the public, sharing appropriate posts online with non-archaeologist audiences, and taking the time to work with school programs.  How about sponsoring a TEDx Talk?  How about aiding your local Boy Scouts Troop and helping them get their archaeology merit badge or writing to whoever heads the Girl Scouts and suggesting an archaeology badge?  How about creating a display for public spaces or schools to talk about archaeology?  I’m sure that time and funding will be cited as the main issues with wanting to do more, but should that deter us from even trying to be stewards of archaeology?  No.

I hope this made as much sense on paper, or in cyberspace, as it did in my head.  Please, leave your thoughts in the comment below, lets keep this thought process open and get to some discussion.

IUP Anthropology Department