A frequently-asked question to Anthropology students about their choice of major is “What are you gonna do with that?” Inspired by the 2018 AAA Annual Meeting in San Jose, the Rollins College Anthropology department faculty decided to make some structural changes to infuse professionalism into all parts of our academic programs. Some of these changes included:
- Swapping the Anthropology theory core course for an ethnographic methods course to provide a skillset that undergraduate students could take with them after graduation to their future careers
- Including in each course examples of anthropologists and archaeologists at work today
- Revising the Senior Seminar to include a course module focused on professionalism and post-graduation preparation; specific components of this module are:
- Written reflections on professional interests
- Discipline-specific instruction by the Office of Career and Life Planning
- Class visits by several practicing anthropologists discussing their respective career paths
- Participation in a workshop on marketing anthropology skills
- Assignments focused on resumé preparation and the job application process.
We also changed the final requirement for graduation from a multiple-choice comprehensive exam to a mock interview where students submit their résumé and a job description (or graduate program) they would like to apply to. Then, the student sits for a mock panel interview with the Anthropology faculty acting as the hiring organization. The faculty ask questions about the information submitted and the applicability of anthropology and the liberal arts to the position. For example:
- It says here on your résumé that your major was Anthropology. What made that major appealing to you?
- Please give an example of a skill or skills you learned from your anthropology major that would help qualify you for this position.
The questions probe for specific experiences in or out of the classroom, especially community engagement activities, that students should be connecting to their future goals. We provide feedback on their responses based on their content and the students’ speaking ability. We share tips for concise storytelling, ways to explain their career planning confidently, and methods for connecting their responses to interesting or memorable accomplishments in their résumés. We have found the mock interview experience to be excellent and relevant preparation for students to describe and translate what they have learned.
Shan-Estelle Brown, PhD is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Coordinator of the Global Health Program at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Previously, she was Postdoctoral Research Associate in the AIDS Program at Yale School of Medicine. She is a mixed-methods medical anthropologist with training in qualitative research and pedagogy on writing. She is the author of Writing in Anthropology: A Brief Guide (Oxford University Press). Her research interests include conducting community-engaged research, improving patient-centered outcomes with medical technologies, understanding patients’ perceptions of risk and well-being, and identifying structural facilitators and barriers to health care access and retention in care. She has researched these issues for genetic diseases like sickle cell disease and for infectious diseases like HIV.
Zack Gilmore is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Rollins College, where he teaches courses on the cultures and histories of Indigenous North Americans, archaeological method and theory, and public scholarship. Zack’s research focuses on reconstructing the social histories and material practices of pre-Columbian Indigenous societies of the American Southeast. He is author of Gathering at Silver Glen: Community and History in Late Archaic Florida (University Press of Florida) and The Archaeology of Events: Cultural Change and Continuity in the American Southeast (University of Alabama Press).