Mentoring FAQ

This NAPA Mentoring FAQ section offers nearly 60 Frequently Asked Questions–and answers–about the study of applied anthropology and careers in applied anthropology, divided into several primary categories below.

The information presented is necessarily extensive, and there is some overlap between categories. Plan on spending enough time needed to fully absorb the answers, especially in the categories related to graduate school. You will also find four undergraduate scenarios, taken from actual situations presented to NAPA mentors.

These FAQs were compiled and developed by NAPA Mentor Committee members Tom Greaves, the past NAPA mentor coordinator, and Elizabeth Briody, past NAPA president and long-time mentor.  The NAPA Mentor Program Committee (along with Tom and Elizabeth this includes Niel Tashima [Chair], Sara Cote, Tara Eaton, Bill Roberts, and Terry Redding [Communications Chair]) and the NAPA Governing Council subsequently reviewed and approved them.

The topics and responses provided in the seven categories below derive mainly from the queries most frequently received from those using NAPA’s Mentor Match program.  We share them here in hopes that you will find them useful.  If you believe you would benefit from a long-term, personal correspondence with a NAPA mentor, go to the Mentor Match form tab in the Mentor Program page after completing the relevant FAQ section. A NAPA Mentor can work with you going forward to address your specific issues and needs.

The FAQs may be followed sequentially through the navigation links provided at the bottom of each page. Or, you may choose to follow just those questions that meet your immediate need.  You will find a link back to this page centered below all the other links on each page.

At the bottom of each page, you may pose follow-up questions for the content posted on that page. These questions may lead to discussion threads that assist others, so do not hesitate to post you queries!

When exploring options for coursework, majors, and careers, it is prudent to consult as many sources of advice as you can.  This applies to all mentoring, information, and counsel you may obtain, including what you find elsewhere on this site.  Any resource has blind spots, implicit biases, and other limitations that arbitrarily narrow what is advised. Consult widely, sort through what you hear, and choose what seems best for you.

You can make an investment in your career by attending an annual AAA meeting.  At the Employer Expo, you will be able to meet with representatives from companies and organizations that hire anthropologists. NAPA workshops held throughout the meetings provide important training on specific topics, and are presented by experienced practitioners. NAPA networking events help introduce you to both peers and practitioners to address your queries. Instant Mentoring at the NAPA booth in the exhibition hall puts you in immediate touch with mentors offering advice and suggestions.

Undergraduate and graduate students usually have some very good sources of counsel available to them, especially from faculty advisors who can offer personalized advice based on knowledge of you and your past academic work.   Those students who have internship experiences often obtained them from advice offered by their internship supervisors or preceptors. Also, virtually every campus has a career center with staff whose career expertise is tailored to your geographic region.  Lay out your situation candidly to them and see what they say.  Remember that access to your career center services does not necessarily end when you graduate; obtain their help as long as it is useful to you.

How one prepares to be an applied anthropologist and how one practices anthropology as a profession vary profoundly from one country to another.   Our advice here is situated within the context of the United States.  While visitors from other countries are most welcome, remember that what is written here may differ from how things are done in your country.

Two individuals may answer the same question quite differently, and one answer might be better than another for your particular situation. So, along with the information presented here, you may also consider posing questions to the NAPA LinkedIn and Facebook pages, and the NAPA listserv (links below).  Also query any local groups or sources of information, individual professors and academic advisors, and career counselors.

Note: Alternative solutions will strengthen the usefulness of this online resource; additional advice from practicing and applied anthropology professionals, particularly that which differs from the advice given here, is welcome.  Please submit any advisory paragraphs (of about the same length as responses currently listed) to Tom Greaves, FAQ editor for NAPA Mentoring (greaves -at- bucknell -dot- edu).

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Frequently Asked Questions

Once you have completed reviewing the FAQs and exploring the other resources listed, you may find you still have questions. Post your immediate or clarifying questions to the relevant discussion list at the bottom of each section. As noted above, you should check in with the various listservs and websites, including the NAPA online resources (LinkedInlistservblogFacebook, or other Career Section resources such as resource links, career shifting, consulting information, and position openings, and also the career podcasts). You can also look for local resources; along with area universities, in a few cities such as Washington DC, there are local practitioner organizations to turn to.  Attending professional meetings is an excellent way to meet with those who can best advise you. While at the annual AAA meetings, you can take advantage of NAPA’s Instant Mentoring.  If you are looking for long-term guidance, submit your profile to the Mentor Match program.