So, You Want to Study Anthropology?
When I first started college I didn’t declare a major. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I focused on getting my core requirements out of the way first. Sophomore year I took an anthropology course and fell in the love with the discipline. But like most love affairs, this one was not without the occasional conflict.
In the end I have few regrets about the path I have chosen, but there are some things I wish I would have known before I started.
So, for new anthropology majors (or those considering the discipline as their field of study), here are the things I think you might want to know as you begin your journey! If you haven’t already, check out Part 1 here.
You Will Face Deep Questions and Moral Dilemmas You Never Considered Before
As an anthropology major, you may find yourself considering issues that you haven’t given much thought to before. Anthropologists should consider the moral implications of their work, as well as how their influence on the communities they work with is shaped by their personal identity. Although you may not face moral dilemmas in “real life”, you will likely discuss them in your anthropology courses. Questions that you discuss may include:
- What are appropriate ways to compensate study/interview participants for their time?
- When does an anthropologist’s presence in a community do more harm than good?
- What are some harmful myths that anthropologists/anthropology perpetuated in the past? How can we move forward and right these wrongs? What myths persist today?
- What are some moral issues or conflicts of interest that may arise when working for certain types of clients?
You may find that your opinion on topics such as these is different than that of your peers, or that your opinion is constantly changing overtime. Sometimes you may feel confused, or even discouraged. However, I believe discussion and consideration of tough moral dilemmas is an important part of anthropology. In the end, facing these conflicts is what leads to improvement in research.
You Will Need to “Market Yourself” Well
As much as I find the phrase “market yourself,” cringy…
Whether you are proposing a project for your master’s thesis or interviewing for an undergraduate internship, as an anthropology major, you must learn to market yourself creatively and effectively.
Many of your potential clients/employers may not be familiar with the methods and skills of anthropology, so you may need to spend more time explaining how your skills can be useful to them. Remember to focus on the results that anthropology research can produce, and how these results are unique. Before important interviews or meetings, you may want to write down a few important points specifically related to the role of anthropology in your education and career training.
As an anthropology major, you will need to “market yourself” well. Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash
You Will Meet Amazing People
Some of my closest friends are those I’ve met through anthropology. We share a similar passion and worldview, and we have great discussions. Our specific interests are all different, but we all have an appreciation for the same field.
Anthropologists are a very diverse group of people. The anthropologists and anthropology students I know come from a huge variety of backgrounds, and their interest in the field is often fueled by personal experience. Anthropologists are teachers, researchers, activists, writers and so much more. If you major in anthropology, you are sure to meet many interesting and passionate people.
If you have any advice for students in your major, leave a comment on this post!
2 thoughts on “Anthropology Majors: What You Should Know, Part 2”
Great advice for Anthropology Majors! I would add this: (My apologies if this info is somewhere in your blog already–I’m new to your blog!) As early as possible, figure out what you want to do with your degree and what you want to specialize in (within the field of Anthropology). Then you can focus ALL your class assignments, papers, and projects on those interests. For example, if you want to focus on Medical Anthropology, you can find a way to write something on that topic in all of your work for different classes. As another example, if you want to specialize in Business Anthropology, find a way to write papers about that topic for each class you take. Then, by the end of your degree, you will have a lot more knowledge in your chosen area of specialization, and a stack of papers you wrote about it, too! Makes for a great portfolio when applying for jobs.
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I aboslutely agree with you and this is excellent advice! In the master’s program that I completed, your thesis is (ideally) in your focus area, so all the work you do building up the finished thesis contributes to your knowledge base on that area. Thanks for commenting!