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Catch 22
This is really a global problem, not unique to the UK. I just moved to Britain from the states with a freshly minted triple major BA in anthro, history, and classics from a pretty reputable uni for archaeology. As a student in three disciplines that incorporate archaeology in a big way, there was hardly zero training in commercial field work and it was probably much like everywhere else, theory, methods, and discipline history.

The biggest lessons I learned about the field as an undergrad were not in the classroom. If you want the "real" skills you need to go out and earn them (this is not unique to archaeology). I volunteered on a (research) site for three years and made loads of contacts. I attended as many lectures from traveling researchers as I could. There weren't any student organizations for undergrads in archaeology in my state, so I started one. Thats all aside from my non-arch experience in various management roles. I consider myself to be competitive for today's market, despite not having yet worked for a commercial site. I think it is really hard for a university to prepare students for the "real" world anyway. University life is very insulated from the outside world and it is very easy to fall into a trap of the student lifestyle, which is pretty cushy. The best you can do, I think, is teach people things like leadership and team building, of course alongside archaeological methods. However, I am not sure how you teach people to excavate like maniacs under the pressure of a fast approaching deadline without seriously screwing up the data. I think unis should just be a little more honest with students about what the world is like after graduation. It isn't like they are going to shatter anyone's dreams by telling them the raw truth about what life will be like with an archaeology degree...

The rest is really up to the individual, like any discipline. This is the worst time to be a recent grad with any credentials. There is only so much a uni is going to do for you so the rest is up to you to make sure you have done everything in your power to put yourself out there. Recent grads are not really in a position to go the self-employed route (I doubt they would get hired) so the best thing is to just volunteer, do not miss a job listing, and stay positive. Maybe I am just naive and way to optimistic for my own good, being a new graduate. But I think if you really want it then you can have it with enough hard work. I'd rather get paid minimum wage (the only jobs available right now) doing something I truly love than getting minimum wage working retail or something. Stay positive, don't stop working for it, and keep your fingers crossed. I think it is the only thing any new graduate who is serious about archaeology can do.

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Catch 22 - by BAJR - 4th November 2010, 10:04 AM

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