When I graduated from Houston’s performing arts high school, I knew what my major in college would be, and I knew what kind of career I was determined to pursue. My time there had been intense, and I was prepared to eke out a living for myself as a musician in whatever way possible. One year into my secondary studies, however, the diagnosis of a debilitating muscular disease ended any symphonic ambitions I might have had, and with at least three years of college staring me down, I found myself asking a question I never thought I would have to ask: Well, what now?
I floundered over the next two semesters, choosing classes to fill core credits on the basis of how interesting they seemed. After taking a few anthropology classes, however, I had found a course of study that I felt could offer personal and professional fulfillment.
Anthropology appealed to me because of its intense focus on the human condition. The uniqueness of anthropology is that it addresses human issues in a qualitative manner so that most field work and research involves direct interaction with the people of study. I enjoyed most of my coursework, especially in the physical and cultural fields, and appreciated learning about the many different systems of subsistence and expressions of culture humans have produced.
I chose my major on the basis of personal interests, but anthropology also offers many potential career routes that are professionally meaningful. Academic pursuits help generate new theoretical knowledge about culture and are vital to educating future anthropologists. Applied work can achieve similar ends; such studies apply ivory-tower wisdom to the real-world research interests of the anthropologist. Another way anthropologists can build a career is through practitioner work. These anthropologists solve problems for their clients and research participants by serving as consultants, advocates and authoritative specialists. Of the three types of career options, practitioner anthropology appeals to me the most.
I find this style of anthropology appealing because it applies anthropological knowledge to achieve outcomes which assist people in some way. Although I am uncertain at this moment as to exactly what career I would like to pursue, I know I would like to work in some field where I can help resolve cultural dilemmas or find solutions to some of the many problems people face. For instance, I have considered doing some kind of work related to immigration and cultural conflicts between Mexico, the U.S. and those most directly affected by immigration. My anthropological training would allow me to assess the types of forces affecting the circumstances of immigration and what patterns of action would be useful to better resolve the situation.
The study of anthropology also prepares students for careers outside of anthropology. Some of the basic frames of reference, such as emic perspectives, allow for unique viewpoints that are valuable in a variety of professional fields. Education in field methods such as interviews or participant observation are useful for conducting the kinds of research many businesses and other entities use to better serve clients or more efficiently reach objectives. The unique merit of anthropology is that it trains a person to consider all the forces which direct human behavior and to analyze the consequences of these behaviors in a way that is qualitative, holistic and culturally relevant. These are skills that can carry an individual to a meaningful, successful career, both within anthropology and without.Anthropology can provide a unique perspective for looking at the world.The skills you gain in anthropology are useful in just about any career.You also learn all kinds of interesting tidbits that will impress people.http://www.aaanet.org/http://www.practicinganthropology.orghttp://anthropology.si.edu