Don't wait passively for the perfect job to show up on some website listing.
Use the many contacts you have made to find out what sorts of skills employers are looking for, how to present yourself on paper, etc. Make some appointments for informational interviews to just ask people what they do all day and what they see as long-term hiring trends in their field. Remember, most jobs (80%) are filled without ever being advertised, or, if advertised, are already targeted for someone—often someone who has talked her or his way into the job. Be aggressive without being pushy or presumptuous.
Being aggressive means knowing what you can do for employers, and figuring out: 1) if they need you, and 2) how you can make it clear to them that you can help them. Approach the whole experience from their perspective. Find out about the company or agency; talk to people who work there; do some research on current trends or issues in their sector of the economy. The more you know about the company or agency and the context in which they go about doing their daily business, the more likely you are to get an interview and have a good interview. Remember, above all you want to impress them as someone who can help them, with a minimum of training or hand-holding. So the more you appear to be someone who has shaped her or his undergraduate career, the better your chances because the more “together” you’ll seem. Stress you skills that you have listed on your resume.
Thinking linearly, the career search actually begins with choosing courses in a reasonably strategic, sequential way and figuring out what you’ll need to look like on paper two years from now when you graduate. Developing your knowledge, getting acceptable grades (around 3.0, at least in your major), making contacts, writing a good resume, an internship, having a solid portfolio of your work to show potential employers—all of these are important. But they are all tactical matters, to be worked out after you’ve taken the big first step: seeing your undergraduate career as professional development, rather than as some obstacle course of requirements. A mature student studies things that can be used after college. Learning, of course, can be a virtue in its own right. But you can be pragmatic about it without turning the university into a voc-tech school: there’s nothing wrong with developing skills you can use after college to deal effectively with the issues and problems that most engage you. Going to college just to get a job is misguided; going to college to help yourself understand what career most appeals to you, and then working on the education and skills to attain that career, makes sense—and makes you a better student.
Networking may sound manipulative to some people, but it is part of the process described above: getting in touch with people doing the kind of work you think you may like to do some day, finding out what they do all day, how they got their first job, how they progressed in their careers, and what skills they see as crucial for those just entering the job market. Faculty and adviser are good initial sources of contacts. Other excellent sources are organizations such as NAPA—the National Association of Practicing Anthropologists; NASA-National Association of Student Anthropologists; WAPA—Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists. Department faculty members can assist you in contacting these groups. The IUP Anthropology Chair has a network list and e-mail addresses of previous anthropology graduates. You’re invited to “mine” this list especially regarding careers in archaeology, museum studies, primatology, forensics, applied anthropology, census work, and so on.
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