BAJR Federation Archaeology

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Hello everyone, just something I wanted to put out as possible a question, maybe a point of discussion?
I'm just about to finish my placement year and my final year complete with dissertation is looming scarily ahead. What's even more scary and worrying is what happens after I finish my degree this time next year???

Maybe it is just me trying to think overall but really I think many students have this concern as their degree end looms. I've got the impression from my current placement I may need more experience and a masters before I look employable, but then this raises the questions:

How much experience is enough? Bare this is mind, and consider I have a CV currently bursting at two pages of A4 long and that's before I've added a years worth of placement with three companies and also adding photographs and placement documents I've written.

How does one even fund such experience when everyone is telling you to pay for digs and not prepared to pay you yet because 'your not experienced'?

What if a student wants to come out of a degree and go ok, I'd like to work in the finds department, just as an assistant just to get me some more experience?

Its a very worrying thought, a masters can be very expensive and you can almost feel what's the point in spending the money when there is still no guarantee of a job at the end??

I don't want to sound like I'm moaning because believe me I'm not, honestly, I'm just trying to raise a few issues that are going round my head and that I feel many students might have.

This past year on placement has been fantastic and massive praise to my university for doing it and I hope they keep doing it. The experience I've gained, the contacts I've obtained not to mention the boost to my confidence and personal development even at 26 has been fantastic.

To any students reading this, I urge you during your degree get as much summer experience as you can. Bug your uni about a placement year, if they don't already do it ask them why? Cause trust me a year away from studying before your dissertation and final year is a great break and great chance for your CV to explode!

Thank you for reading this and I hope it reads as a student asking genuine questions and not just having a moan, Wink

Also apols for any grammar or spelling issues in this post, I have spell checked it but being dyslexic word doesn't always sing on the same hymn sheet as me lol
curators decide who digs and who doesnt. You should ask them for work.
Don't do a masters just for the sake of it. As you say, it won't automatically make you more employable, not for the first few years of youur career at least. Its tons of money. You could spend that money on supporting yourself with a bit of volunteering instead. It is certainly possible to get digging experience without a Masters.

Don't one of the more hideously oversubscribed specialisms, like osteoarchaeology or forensics. Only a couple of the massive units have enough of this to take on permanent staff in any case.

Quote:Bug your uni about a placement year, if they don't already do it ask them why?

Could be because organising the placements is a hassle for someone. They're a good idea though.
Unitof1 Wrote:curators decide who digs and who doesnt. You should ask them for work.

Not a very helpful post to a student, unit, without explaining that your referring to self-employment/ lone workers/ companies etc and not individual employees.

As to experience for getting digging work.........

It takes the average digger 3-6 months (time on site) to become proficient enough in all the basics of excavation. A digger with experience on commercial sites is usually seen as better due to the different 'attitudes' and priorities between research and commercial excavation.

Diggers with 1 or more years of commercial on-site experience are usually seen as 'a good bet'

But obviously it depends on the person and their aptitude and motivation.

I've had diggers with little experience who outshone more experienced staff in raw talent and motivation...........and conversely had 'experienced' staff who needed serious re-training in the basics.

Having a car, a mobile phone and being mobile and flexible make you more 'employable' as you can fulfill a wider variety of jobs.
Sometimes, just being easily contactable wins you the job!

But overall its the word-of-mouth archaeological grapevine that will get you most jobs. Archaeologists tend to respect the views of other archaeologist that they know well as to who is a good worker.

I imagine its a different kettle of fish for jobs as a specialist, at a museum, or in a planning authority.

A masters is only really useful for training in how to do research or as a starting step to becoming a specialist.


I guess it depends on where you wanna head. Commercial digging, management, teaching, local government, academia, specialist analysis, illustration, CAD, surveying/ building recording........etc etc
Might be a bit unfair but I've only ever looked at the digging experience bit on people's CVs when going through looking to employ diggers - years of getting a string of post-grad qualifications just looks like years spent avoiding getting wet, cold and muddy for as long as possible.... :face-stir:
Thanks for all these posts guys, some useful information. I tend to steer away from digging not because I don't like it, I LOVE digging but I suck at recording and my dyslexia doesn't help much either. However finds work and museum work are two areas that really appeal to me, hence my bit bout working in a finds department to start with getting paid experiance with finds and such. I'm thinking once term starts in september about getting my CV thrown around to different places and see what I can get, I'm determined to find something in this field as I refuse to go back to call centres and non archaeological/historical work. Thanks again guys Smile
AS another comment - it may help it may not. but different coloured paper as I am sure you are aware -can help. - I have helped a few people in this in the past. where the record sheets were printed on green paper or yellow paper - You would not believe the high number of dyslexic archaeologists. So don't worry
BAJR Wrote:AS another comment - it may help it may not. but different coloured paper as I am sure you are aware -can help. - I have helped a few people in this in the past. where the record sheets were printed on green paper or yellow paper - You would not believe the high number of dyslexic archaeologists. So don't worry

That's reassuring. Though and to give you all a good giggle I have green glasses ... can be quite amusing when I forget there on and wander around the office with dark green glasses on while outside its pissing it down. My first set were pink so I got called John Lennon for a while ... not good lol Big Grin Also in case anyone is wondering and doesn't know, the need for coloured lenses or paper is due to the inabilty to read black writing on a white backgroud. It is called Myres Irlen Syndrome or just Irlen Syndrome Smile very common among dyslexics I believe.

Its the calulations I have problems with and the conversions, I might see about spending some more time refreshing my recording skills and conversions. But thanks for the reassurance
My opinion for what its worth - do the Masters. Perhaps look into the possibility of doing it part time over 2 years enabling you to work as well. I think you should look at it from the glass half full point of view and bear in mind that a Masters has never done anyones career any harm, rather than just considering whether it provides instant gratitification....from an economic point of view it also makes sense to start a Masters where you have already been studying as I guess you have somewhere to live, possibly already have a job, support networks etc. As for coming back to education after working for a while, its not impossible but it does become harder. Believe me as someone who started a Masters far too late in life and wishes he had done it 20 years earlier....

As for the future, look beyond the shores of Britain. There are a lot more archaeology jobs in the world outside of the UK, than in it. Many countries wouldn't even consider you as a serious candidate without at least a Masters qualification...
Quote:Many countries wouldn't even consider you as a serious candidate without at least a Masters qualification...

Yeah, but they give you grants to get one.

I wouldn't fancy comitting to spending thousands on a 2 year part time programme of study while trying to get started on the circuit and take any job going. I had enough trouble trying to learn to drive while moving companies/working long days/doing away jobs.
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