A CAREER IN PRACTICE
FIRST STEPS FOR
ANTHROPOLOGISTS
Riall W. Nolan
Purdue University
February 2014
WHY THIS WEBINAR?
• There are more opportunities for anthropologist
practitioners than ever before.
• Practice is the largest and fastest-growing sector of
anthropology, and demand is increasing.
• At the same time, training in anthropology does
not usually emphasize the practice option
• As a result, some of our best anthropologists are
not well prepared for the demands of practice.
HOW OUR DISCIPLINE IS STRUCTURED
Academic
Anthropologists
Applied
Anthropologists
Inside the University
Practicing
Anthropologists
Outside the University
PRACTITIONERS THINK A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY
FROM ACADEMICS
 It isn’t just what you know, it’s what you
can do with what you know
 Commitment to, and acceptance of, social
science as a mechanism for change and
improvement
 Orientation toward client problems and
opportunities
 Willingness and ability to work with diverse
others toward solutions
HOW PRACTICE IS STRUCTURED
Freelancer
Main Practice
Options
or
Bases
Business Head
Private-sector employee
Public-sector employee
University Employee
Non-profit employee
KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF PRACTICE
• Orientation to change
and improvement
• Primarily client-focused
• Collaboration with
others
• New learning/new
specializations
• More than just
research
• Work inside
organizations
• Work as a series of
projects
• Significant problems,
real consequences
• Responsibility for
results
RESULTS MEANS “GETTING THINGS DONE”
• Solving problems
• Producing results
• Getting along with people
• Helping them to get along with each other
• Generating and using resources efficiently
• Finding new and better ways to do things
THREE SIMPLE STEPS TO GETTING HIRED
1. Get on the List
•Visioning
•Networking
•Info. Interviewing
2. Stay on the List
•SWOT Analysis
•Portfolio Prep.
•More Networking
•More Info. Interviewing
3. Get Chosen
•Interviewing
•Negotiating
STARTING POINTS: YOUR CAREER VISION
Your Values
•What things do you feel
strongly about?
•How do you strive to live?
•What do you respect in
others?
Your Interests
•What do you like to do?
•What do you already know a
lot about?
•What would you like to know
more about?
Sector
What general
area do you want
to work in?
Setting
Where do you
want to be
located?
Function
What do you see
yourself doing?
Base
Who are you
working for? What
type of
organization is it?
Your Skills
•What can you do that is useful
in several different areas?
•What things do you think you’re
particularly good at doing?
COMPONENTS OF A PRACTITIONER’S JOB
Base:
Sector:
Function:
Government
Corporate
Non-Profit
Freelance/Sole
proprietorship
Small business
University
Social services
Public administration
Agriculture
Environment
Int’l development
Manufacturing
Education
Marketing
Planning
Management
Production/implementation
Design
Evaluation/assessment
Data collection/analysis
Needs assessment
Advocacy
Policy formulation
ANTHROPOLOGICAL SKILLS IN THE JOB QUEST
• You know how to quickly
find relevant data and
extract its significance.
• You can pick up the
salient points of “local
culture” in a setting or
organization.
• You are not daunted by
difference. Instead,
you’re curious about it.
• You are skilled at asking
good questions.
• You are comfortable with
ambiguity.
• You can modify your
frameworks as you learn.
• You’re not just interested
in answers. You’re also
interested in what the
questions are.
NETWORKING TO IDENTIFY OPPORTUNITIES
Networking provides connections, information,
advice, and access:
 Introduces you to role models and mentors
 Provides guidance as you search for organizations
and opportunities
 Allows you to safely test your assumptions and
expectations against reality
 Can provide an entrée into specific agencies
ANTHROPOLOGICAL METHODS YOU’LL
FIND USEFUL IN THE JOB HUNT
• Domain Analysis: figuring out how grad
programs are defined, structured, and
arranged, and identifying the values and
concepts which drive them.
• Informational Interviewing: figuring out what
the right questions to ask are, and how to ask
them. And then figuring out what the answers
mean.
• Life Histories: looking at the “career arcs” of
students in the program, and afterwards.
RESEARCHING ORGANIZATIONS THROUGH
INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWING
• What does this organization do and how
does it do it?
• What are working conditions like here?
• What qualifications do you need to work
here?
• How do they make hiring decisions?
DOING A SWOT SCAN
INTERNAL
FACTORS
EXTERNAL
FACTORS
Opportunities
Threats
Strengths
Comparative
Advantage
Investment/
Divestment
Weaknesses
Mobilization
Damage Control
PUTTING TOGETHER YOUR RESUME
• A resume is not a CV
• It is a brief account of your skills and
accomplishments
• It has only one purpose: to get you an
interview
• It is not about you: it is about you in relation
to someone else and their needs
CREATING YOUR RESUME
 The best predictor of future performance is past
performance
 Therefore, stress what you have accomplished,
not just what you know
 Of particular value:
–
–
–
–
–
Presentation and communication skills
Project and team management experience
Creative leadership and problem-solving
A range of research skills
The ability to “get things done”
INTERVIEWS: WHAT THEY WILL ASK YOU
Why are you here?
Why did you come to us specifically? What are
you seeking from us? What do you already know
about us?
What do you bring?
What makes you stand out? What are your key
strengths, and how do these relate to what we do
and what we need?
What are you like?
What’s it going to be like to work with you? How
will you fit in with who’s already here? Is there
anything about you we need to know?
What will it cost us?
Apart from the money, what else will we need to
provide, or change, if we bring you on board? Do
you have particular needs or preferences?
EXPLAINING YOURSELF IN THE INTERVIEW
• Pick 3-6 of your best accomplishments. Include
difficult or “challenging” situations. For each:
–
–
–
–
–
Outline the problem, tasks, issues or opportunities
Describe your strategy or approach
Explain the skills and abilities you used
Emphasize the anthropology in what you did
Describe the outcomes you achieved
• Your actions are central to the story, but be sure
to acknowledge the work of others.
• Connect your examples to your listeners’ needs.
WHAT DO ANTHROPOLOGISTS
CONTRIBUTE?
• Social knowledge – we put culture into the picture
• Contextualization and integration– we look
further, for broader connections
• Synergy – we work well with other disciplines: e.g.,
engineering, medicine
• Versatility -- we don’t just do “research” – we plan,
design, and manage.
• Innovative -- we often find things that others miss.
• Social -- we are very good at working with people.
FURTHER RESOURCES
•
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AAA Career Center: http://www.aaanet.org/profdev/
and http://www.aaanet.org/resources/practitioners
CoPAPIA Report
Nolan, Anthropology in Practice
Nolan (ed), Handbook of Practicing Anthropology
Briller
Kedia, Domains of Practice
etc
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A Career in Practice: First Steps for Anthropologists