It's a tough time to be a graduate. Jobs in any sector are scarce and the chances of being able to actually apply what you have learned through your degree in the workplace are slim.
This is a very real problem for students of archaeology and Beatrix Arendt addresses options available in "Making it Work: Using Archaeology to Build Job Skills for Careers Other Than Archaeology" in the latest issue of Public Archaeology.
"A recent online article in The Daily Beast listed archaeology as one of the thirteen most useless undergraduate degrees. The article failed to identify transferable job skills gained while engaged in archaeological work. Further, archaeological field programmes and labs offer an alternative learning environment that benefits some students.
This article reviews two archaeological projects that used archaeology as a form of social activism to provide employment and education to an under-served community as a fundamental aspect of its goals. The Hopedale Archaeology Project is an archaeology field project based in a north-east Canadian community that provides education and work opportunities for Inuit students. The Veterans Curation Program based in the United States provides temporary employment to recently discharged military veterans in an archaeological and archival curation lab. These programmes assist individuals to
re-establish themselves within the workforce and add to their academic and professional growth, as well as incorporate a public outreach component that makes archaeology and history more accessible to the public.
Most archaeologists engage in a wide range of administrative and management skills to conduct excavations as well as computer and digitization skills, which are applicable in practically all work environments. Harnessing these skill sets and using them for alternative education and work opportunities can make archaeology and history more accessible to the public, while assisting individuals to re-establish themselves within the workforce by adding to their academic and professional growth.
Engaging in archaeological projects lends itself to the development of specific learning situations, particularly incorporating active learning where individuals have the opportunity to explore and experiment. Many other researchers have explored the educational value of archaeology via activities that require analytical thinking, problem-solving, and cooperation; however, few have analysed the potential for using archaeology as a tool that provides transferable job skills in fields outside of archaeology."