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Careers

ARCHAEOLOGY AND LIFE AFTERWARDS...

The intellectual versatility and transferable skills that the course will foster are highly prized by employers in many fields, and indeed Archaeology has one of the highest employment rates across all subjects in the University.  While about half of graduates go on to archaeological careers or postgraduate study, many go on to careers in sectors as varied as media, commerce, diplomacy, advertising, museums, conservation and health.

See what some of our graduates said:

 

"My degree gave me a solid foundation in archaeological knowledge, thought and theory. But the research, time management and writing skill sets I gained along the way are in some ways more valuable in post-graduation life, and have already helped me in producing several commercial archaeological reports as part of my current job. I’m still inspired by the academics and time I had at Cambridge to really explore and investigate a topic - Neolithic archaeology, from the enigmatic time when farming began, is a fascinating challenge to try and untangle. The teaching system at Cambridge is based on individual or small group supervisions, in which you discuss a particular topic and your work with an academic. Gaining confidence at explaining, summarising and discussing ideas through supervisions has been extremely valuable to me during job interviews. Alongside my degree, I also gained a lot of organisation skills and experience through running a large society event and setting up an online access project that is aimed at helping prospective Cambridge applicants. Being involved in college and university-level access work has helped me work towards being involved in outreach and community work and started to equip me with the skill set to do so."

Nina O'Hare, BA 2015, Worcestershire County Council

Read more about Nina's story here: http://www.cam.ac.uk/news/graduate-get-a-job-make-a-difference-5

 

“My Cambridge degree in archaeology provided me with the very best foundation from which to go on to further study in archaeology. Since leaving Cambridge I have completed a master’s degree at University College London and am in the final stages of completing a PhD at Newcastle University. I have also worked as an archaeological field officer and a site supervisor on excavations, excavated in Peru and spoken at conferences in places as diverse as Hawaii and Portugal. My undergraduate degree in archaeology pushed me to think about the world in different ways. It demanded that I learn to be analytical, to consider multiple sources of evidence and to balance varying viewpoints. It also forced me to work hard. These things have all made the transition to master’s and PhD level research easier. The vast scope of archaeology covered at Cambridge, paired with the depth of expertise, allowed me to gain a wide general knowledge as well as very
detailed engagement with the things that interested me most. The supervision system gives you the best possible opportunity to develop as an archaeologist and a thinker. The chance to sit with a real expert and talk about the reading you have done, your ideas and your writing every week gives you an awesome advantage for further study and encourages you to think originally and follow your ideas through.

As part of my undergraduate degree I completed original research which gave me an excellent foundation from which to keep researching. I was taught how to frame questions, how to work with data and how to best present results. The access to resources and books at Cambridge is brilliant and you get to learn from real leaders in the field. I made excellent contacts and friends at Cambridge who have gone on to be important and help my career thus far.”

Rachell Crellin, BA 2009. PhD Candidate, University of Newcastle

 

“Working for the Royal Academy of Dance may not be a typical career path for an archaeology graduate, but my degree has definitely helped me get there. Studying archaeology made me fundamentally aware of the arts and heritage sector, particularly in terms of policy and politics, giving me a strong foothold for a career in this area. Archaeology also trained me to assess arguments and weigh up different points of view to form my own opinions. I had the opportunity to conduct research, to explore ideas and to debate, skills that I use on a daily basis. An archaeology degree gave me the opportunity to learn, travel and explore the world both past and present. I may not spend my days with a trowel, but studying archaeology paved the way to my present career.”

Hannah Merron, BA 2009, London Academy of Dance

 

 “Archaeology and museums go hand in hand. However, there is more to museum work than simply curating the collections excavated by our predecessors. I am responsible for organising the movement of collections. This means I can be installing an art work in the city gallery one day and digging through stores at the industrial museum the next. I even get the occasional jaunt abroad to baby sit travelling collections. Whilst the 'real' archaeology I deal with regularly is limited to the accession of an odd excavated spur fragment, I constantly use the skills and knowledge I gained during my degree studies. An essential part of my job is ensuring that the museum engages in ethical practice. My knowledge of social theory, interpretation and reasoning skills all help out here. Museums need archaeologists, not just in the curatorial roles, but because they truly understand the need and purpose of museums and their collections. And what do you get out of it? Not the money, obviously, but an exciting, vibrant work environment and a daily work-load that is never the same twice.”

Cassia Pennington, BA 2009, trainee museum registrar, Royal Armouries Museum and Leeds Museums and Galleries

 

“I would love to say that hours spent in the pub during my formative years at Cambridge prepared me for dealing with drunks on a Friday night in Chelsea, that long afternoons poring over Neo-Assyrian manuscripts prepared me for slaving over arrest notes, or that excavating obsidian blades in a Neolithic city somehow gave me insight as to where naughty boys hide their knives. Alas, they did not!

However, the sheer range of topics covered, the intensity of discussion and the standard of teaching give all Cambridge archaeology students an instinctive aptitude

or investigating and solving problems. An archaeology degree is for life, not just for Christmas. It doesn't necessarily mean that you are destined to a life of digging in a hole, or exiled to a dusty museum storeroom. Yet it does provide you with a special skill set that has ensured that my peers and I have established ourselves as everything from police officers to teachers to accountants to surveyors. More importantly, it was an awful lot of fun.”

Helen Lomas, BA 2007, London Metropolitan Police