Topic ID #22517 - posted 8/21/2012 3:38 PM

Wanted: Experience in California - Advice Needed!


Hello! Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I am trying to figure out how I can gain experience in California Archaeology. I have a kind of awkward situation, so I will try to explain it as best I can.

I graduated with a BA in Archaeology and History in 2009 from a Canadian University. I was unable to get a field school under my belt - my parents paid for my university education and despite my attempts to explain that a field school was needed to get a job, they were not able to pay for one. I wasn't able to get a loan or save up enough on my own either.

At the time I graduated, I was working full-time in a retail store and was saving up money to move to the United States with my fiance (now husband). Although I tried to get a job in Archaeology, I was never able to get one without experience so I continued to work as a Manager in a retail store. I have since come to the US on a Fiancee visa and am now in the process of filing for my Permanent Residency. I have applied for a work permit, but am not able to accept paid employment until I get the Employment Authorization.

So my dilemma is I can't apply for jobs because I can't accept paid employment, but I am hoping to gain experience so that I can apply as an experienced Archaeologist once I am allowed to work. Money is tight living on only my husband's salary, so I am not able to pay for a field school at this time.

I'm currently writing to anywhere I can find to ask if they would consider a volunteer in exchange for work experience. Is this even a remote possibility? I am very knowledgeable and hard-working - just lacking experience outside the classroom. Most internships I've seen require you to be a US Citizen or Green Card Holder - so that won't work for me right now either.

Does anyone have any other suggestions or places to look in order to gain experience? I am in the Los Angeles County/Orange County area of California. Advice is greatly appreciated!

Thank you again for reading!

Post ID#19739 - replied 8/22/2012 9:09 AM


Hey There, 

Without field school you are going to have a hard time getting experience actually digging in southern California.  What I would recommend is going to talking to any one of the many cultural museums in the area. I know that the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum as well as Irvine Museum always need volunteers. 
You may not get to work in the field but you can help with the collection side of things. 

Also living in southern California ( I lived there for a while also) you are very fortunate in that there are many historical society's and archaeology clubs and society's that take volunteers. This will also offer you the chance to connect with local archaeologist and historians. This takes a lot of foot work but can be very rewarding and lead to all kinds of opportunity's. Check out there websites and see what events they have open to the community. Most of the volunteer work is in washing and sorting artifacts and in education programs, but every once in while they need to do excavation. 

If there is any way you can get into a field school ( some of the local Community Colleges offer course for very cheap) I would do that. 

Good luck 

Post ID#19741 - replied 8/23/2012 4:58 PM


Have you tried volunteering for the Federal Governement yet? Many would love to have the opportunity to utilize an educated volunteer, especially with budget cuts those of us who work for land management agencies could really use the help! Forest Service has a program called passport in time, , but you can also contact Forests that don't have PIT programs and see if they need help as well. National Park Service typically won't advertise for it unless it's an internship but that doesn't mean they don't need volunteers. For example at the Park I currently work at we had a couple different people in the area contact my supervisor and ask if they could assist with the archaeological work this summer, when she said I was going to have some help I was ecstatic! Problem: they flaked out. They weren't applying through a program or anything they just got ahold of us, and if they had followed through they would have gained some great experience! And check out field schools next summer cycle beginning in the winter/spring at as well.

Post ID#19742 - replied 8/25/2012 12:20 AM


Thank you both so much! One of the places I contacted e-mailed me back and I will be helping out in their lab in September. Hopefully they will keep me busy for a while. I will have to check out the other ideas as well. I'm so excited!

Post ID#19743 - replied 8/25/2012 5:59 AM


Hi Holly,
I highly recommend that you check with ALL the schools near you - everything from private universities to community colleges - to see what is available in the way of field schools. Some are offered as semester-long courses, done on Saturdays, so you don't have conflicts with weekday work. Many of the courses for residents are relatively cheap, and you should a) be able to pay for it outright, or b) get a small student loan, which most banks are more than happy to arrange. Think of this as an important investment in your future. The importance of the field school, as opposed to just field experience, is that meeting the the Secretary of Interior Standards is becoming a requirement, and is too small/large a thing to allow to stop you from pursuing a career in archaeology. That said, in addition to the field school, getting all the experience, volunteer or paid, that you possibly can, and reading way beyond what is "necessary" is of paramount importance in getting and staying employed in archaeology. So. It sounds like you're on the right track. Never give up! Never surrender!


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