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Cathleen Crain July 2013

July 2, 2013

Anthropologist Cathleen Crain on the NAPA/AAA Careers Expo and its contribution to applied anthropology

The NAPA/AAA Careers Expo (formerly the Employer Expo) started in 2006 as the brainchild of then NAPA President Dennis Wiedman. Cathleen was an exhibitor at the first Expo at the AAA Meetings in San Jose, CA. The Expo started small and was a vehicle for building connections between professional anthropologists, students and new professionals. Originally solely a NAPA sponsored event, today NAPA conducts the Expo in partnership with the AAA, and with support from CoPAPIA (Committee on Practicing, Applied and Public Interest Anthropology) and COPAA (Consortium of Practicing and Applied Anthropology Programs).

As the Committee Chair of Organizational Relations for the NAPA Governing Council, Cathleen follows changes in the field of anthropology very closely. Each year the organization decides on a focus for the Expo based on these changes and a view to the broader careers landscape, and recruits a varied group of exhibitors. One year the Expo emphasized work in the high tech sector, another year the Expo focused on museum anthropology. The objective is to feature a broad variety of professional anthropologists; from consultants and federal anthropologists, to people working in the non-profit and for-profit sectors.

The Careers Expo is an important event, broadening horizons for both students and new professionals. Recently, there has been increased attendance of faculty who want to support their students in exploring different types of careers. “Rather than host companies that hire anthropologists as we did when it was the Employer Expo, we now focus on professional anthropologists who work in an array of fields to speak with attendees about their work”, says Cathleen. Students and new professionals may have limited experience of the broad range of possibilities for careers in anthropology. The variety of career opportunities represented at the NAPA/AAA Careers Expo is a valuable resource for expanding the vision of the rich variety of career possibilities.

The 2012 Career Expo welcomed 500 attendees and received enthusiastic support. Cathleen expects attendance to grow this year as the realm of professional anthropology continues to welcome new anthropologists.

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