Preparing for the Job Market: Advice for Social Science Students

The countdown is on; 7 months till I finish graduate school and enter the real world. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my short-term and long-term career goals and trying to figure out what I actually want to do. In the past week I went to the ‘Faculty of Social Sciences: Career Networking Breakfast’, which was a roundtable workshop that allowed you to spend time with working professionals from an array of fields. I also went to a session called “The Graduate Job Search: Career Options Beyond Academia.” It was put on by Catherine Maybrey, the Graduate Career Strategist at McMaster University, who was absolutely AMAZING at answering questions. When I go to career talks for anthropology students time and time again I hear ‘your research and writing skills will be your greatest assets.’ But I need real, practical advice, not this subtle encouragement that it will all turn out okay. I’ve done the legwork and now you all can reap the benefits. Here is some of the advice/tips I picked up at those two career sessions.

Advice and tips from the ‘Faculty of Social Sciences: Career Networking Breakfast’:

Volunteer– this is how you will get experience outside of school and build up your network.
• Practice your public dissemination of knowledge (no worries, I blog). You need to be able to transmit information to your bosses and the public. Be able to write things succinctly.
——- At some point you will have to summarize a 50-page report into 10 bullet points for your boss.
• Be Interesting; don’t be basic. Make sure you have a good thesis title so that when it is written on your CV people will actually read it and understand it.
• Identify your promising mentors.
• At interviews you should bring new ideas to the table. Use your cover letter to demonstrate why you would fit the position. Your cover letter and interview should be totally different.
• Chances are you will do contract work.
——- You probably won’t get benefits
——- On your resume make sure you are listing these things are contract positions so that it doesn’t look like you are unstable and move around jobs a lot
You have more negotiating power than you think. You won’t get what you don’t ask for.
——- Negotiate: Salary, vacation, training, start date, hours of work, and location of work
• Try to take a finance course. If possible, get your work to pay for this. Or take a free course online.
• Try to get government/official certifications
• It is okay to take a lower position job but you need to distinguish yourself right away. Try to get involved in other projects or take on new responsibilities.
——- These entry positions allow you to apply for internal job listings.
• At the beginning of a new position listen up and be resilient. Don’t waste your time on things you are not interested in.
• Figure out what the rewards are for the job. Find out what matters to you and make sure your morals align with your work.
——- Do not talk about partisan politics at work.
• Change roles often at the beginning of your career. This is when you have the most flexibility.
Make your job yours!

Advice from ‘The Graduate Job Search: Career Options Beyond Academia’:

• Use the career resources at your university/school
——- There are special job posting boards
——- You can get your resume and cover letter edited
——- They have mentoring service and job shadowing programs
——- You qualify for these services for 5 years after you graduate
• Identify the companies/organizations that you want to work for. Figure out what you like and what you don’t like.
• Go to career fairs before you are even looking for a job.
——- Find out what skills people are looking for so that you can start fulfilling them before you graduate.
• Volunteer for things that will build your skills.
• Most resumes are screened using software. It is important to understand how this works.
——- Look at recruiting companies’ blogs to understand how they source their talent.
• Conduct ‘informal interviews’ with people in the industry. One way of doing research on careers is by asking people directly about their experiences. You should do this with people whose career paths you admire and with people who work at your ‘dream’ companies. Rules for this and mentors in general are:
——-  Limit interactions to 20 minutes
——-  Never ask for a job
——-  Do not ask how much money that make. You can say “from what I’ve seen salaries at entry level positions are ____, does that seem to be correct?”
• Be on LinkedIn
• Double check your Facebook security settings to make sure it is private.
• Sign up for tailored searches on job boards and get email notifications.
• Remember that you are interviewing the company at the same time when they are interviewing you. Find out if you think it is a good match.
——- Find out what training programs companies offer.
• Watch this video from Harvard professor Deepak Malhotra on ‘How to Negotiate Your Job Offer’ and use his 15 pieces of advice.
For women worried about the gender gap in wage, the best way to combat this is to research the average starting salary for the position. There are websites online that have this information.
• Get your supervisor to be your reference only is they can speak to what is required for the listed job. Also consider how difficult they are to get a hold of and if that will impact you.
When considering an office administration/assistant/receptionist position the biggest thing you need to evaluate is whether there is opportunity for growth and promotion in that company. Do they offer training? Could you make lateral moves in the company?
Be Proactive! This was Catherine’s top advice for us. Don’t wait till you need a job. Start looking while you are in the program so that you can have a job lined up when you finish.


Some of the points are repetitive but it just reinforces their importance. I have learned a lot in this past week plus I am reading Lean In* so I feel like I am bursting with information.

*Highly highly highly recommend reading Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. Believe the hype on this one!

Valid advice from my new fav Real Housewive Lisa Rinna

Female Archaeologist Figures/Icons

I have been working on a poster for the upcoming Canadian Archaeological Association conference this spring. I am concentrating on making it as visually pleasing as possible so I’ve been turning to infographics for inspiration. I wanted to include a simple silhouette of a female archaeologist on my poster. I knew this desire was not going to be fulfilled but I figured at the least I could get a basic female icon and then add archaeological flare. I was pretty surprised when I could not find the silhouette of a woman that was not either wearing a dress or hypersexualized. With no good figure to be found, I decided to make my own.

My wishlist for a Female Archaeologists Icon was for her to be obviously a woman, be wearing pants, and designed with a minimalist style.

Here is what I have come up with so far.  There’s a few variations that I have tried out. I’m pretty happy with how it has turned out but I am going to keep working on it. I’ve been designing them by layering shapes in Microsoft Publisher. I know this must be the most inefficient way to create .png files like this but I do not know another way and it is getting the job done.


Female Archaeologist Figure 1


I need to make improvements on the trowel- try and make it less dinky looking. And I kind of feel like her shoulders are too broad but I’m torn about it because I am happy with the overall outline already and it is a lot of work to make big changes like that. Also, who cares if her shoulders are big? She is a strong badass female archaeologist!

Female Archaeologist Figure 2

I love the short hair and hat combination. I think it would be great to give her some wild voluptuous hair but I haven’t been successful creating one yet.


Female Archaeologist Figure 3

I’m not too sure what to do with the shovel. I might have to redesign her body if I want to fit it in. Still, I feel like it is more representative of archaeology then the trowel is.


Feel free to take these and use them if you ever see fit. It has been a fun little project and I love my lady so it would be cool to see her live on. I will try and post the final version that I choose for my poster.

I would appreciate any feedback or suggestions that anyone might have so that I can improve them.

British Columbia’s Wolf Killing Plan


The British Columbia government is planning on killing 180 wolves over the next two months in order to help the dwindling caribou population.

The problem is not wolves killing caribou; the problem is the massive loss of caribou habitat in BC. The government is looking at this completely backwards and taking no accountability for their role in the low caribou population. Instead the bulk of the consequences are being placed on other animal species.

Critics have pointed out how caribou herds take a long time to recover, unlike wolves. This means that the government will have to continue to shoot wolves over the next several decades as they wait for the caribou population to increase.

It is shocking that the government still views killing animals as a solution to human-caused reductions in other species. People have used this strategy before and to my knowledge it always backfires. Here is a prime example also from BC:

Throughout the 1940s to mid-1960s the Department of Fisheries and Oceans encouraged the slaughter of basking sharks off the coast of BC because they thought the sharks were harmful to the fishing industry. The animals were being entangled in fishing nets, causing damage, and were viewed as contributing to low salmon stocks. The sharks were listed as ‘Destructive Pests’ by the DFO and hundreds of sharks were killed. Today there are less than 550 basking sharks on the west coast of North America. Now it is incredibly rare to spot one of these animals in BC waters and only a handful of sighting reported each year.  [Source 1] [Source 2]

Canada has several dark patches in its history of dealing with our environment. Clearly we are continuing to make horrible environmental choices in the name of so-called development. Slaughtering wolves to increase the caribou population is one of these bad choices and unacceptable.

I urge everyone to check out Pacific Wild for more information on how you can sign a petition and send letters to show your disagreement with this plan of action.

My New Year’s Resolutions:

My New Year’s Resolutions:Resolutions Cropped

Notice how none of them are directly related to school? That is because in 8 months I am finishing my thesis and moving onto the real world and leave Academia. That means that I need to be setting myself up for the life I want outside of school, particularly the kind of lifestyle that I want to have. In order to get to this point in my Masters I already needed the skills in place that would allow me to excel at school. Therefore this isn’t the sector that I need to be working on.

It’s time for me to make sure that I am now practicing the skills and habits that I need to succeed at the next few chapters of my life, which is a much greater unknown than I’ve ever dealt with before. At the end of the summer not only I am finishing my Masters but I am also wrapping up my five-year plan. I have no clue where I will be in one year for now, and all at once that feels liberating, terrifying, but mostly it is exciting.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Book Review for the Last Quarter of 2014:

Christmas Eve 2014: My family tradition is to get a book on Christmas Eve to keep our minds busy while we wait for Santa

Christmas Eve 2014: My family tradition is to get a book on Christmas Eve to keep our minds busy while we wait for Santa


My Salinger Year – Joanna Rakoff  

I have been anticipating this book since I read the synopsis in the summer so I made it my #1 book on my Christmas List. It is the memoir of a young woman, fresh out of graduate school in 1996, living her first year of work in New York City. She works for a book agency and her claim to fame is that this agency represents J. D. Salinger who she gets to have some involvement with. Unfortunately this book did not meet my expectations. I found it slow paced and the story isn’t particularly interesting. Rakoff focuses the details of her work life and skims over the other aspects of her life. At the age of 23 Rakoff was a typical good girl. She doesn’t take big risks or make impulse decisions; she’s just vanilla. This trait makes it difficult to be captivated by her character, forcing the unfolding of events to be the main contributor of entertainment and sadly they just aren’t that interesting. The author skims over topics that I wish she would delve into such as the history between her and her long-distance boyfriend and her relationship with her parents. Because this book is a memoir and Rakoff wants to maintain her polite facade, she treats the other individuals in the book with the same regard for their reputation. She present’s people in their best light, afraid to tarnish their reputation, but in doing so skips over the aspects of characters that makes them most dynamic. At the least, I think including more personal perceptions in the book would have made me understand the complexity of the 23 year-old Joanna. Overall, I’ve found this book charming but lacking a strong story line.

My own guideline when selecting a new novel: Try to avoid books that have an (inspiring) author as the main character.

The Rosie Effect– Graeme Simsion  

This book is the sequel to The Rosie Project, which was one of the most popular novels of 2013 and on my own list of top three books of 2013. But I think the surprising success of the first book is what caused Simsion to rush the release of this follow-up without enough time to fully develop the storyline. It lacked the same level of character wit and engrossing plot. I actually would love for the sequel to have been through Rosie’s perspective rather than Don because I find him difficult to understand and would prefer to see how the people around him perceive his peculiar tendencies. I am really looking forward to the movie adaptation of The Rosie Project.

Saga Vol. 4 – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples   

Amazing, amazing, amazing. Reading the latest release of the Saga series was one of the best treats of my holidays. I don’t read many graphic novels so Saga blew me away when I stumbled upon it a few years ago. Since then I spend 98% of the year anticipating the release of the next volume. I recommend this series to anyone! It is so creative, the art work is insane, the storyline is fascinating, and Vaughan and Staple’s imagined world has no bounds.


Ready Player One– Ernest Cline  

I picked this book up in the airport on my way back from Atlanta and I found it so intriguing that I skipped my Landscape Archaeology readings for that week so that I could plow through this book. The story is about this dystopic future in which people live the majority of their lives through a Second Life-like computer program. It’s a underdog story, stuffed with 80’s popular culture references, and just enough of a love story to satisfy my mushy side.


The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt  

I’d seen this book on top of so many book lists that I knew I needed to get around to reading it. The same situation happened with Gone Girl, where the public had it right and were reading an amazing book. This book started with a fantastic beginning and maintained my attention the whole way though. I love in books such as this when interesting facts and lessons are weaved seamlessly throughout the text. I enjoyed the main character Theo and following his story from a young boy to adult as he struggles to live with looming secret.

I am the most stoked because my mom is reading this book right now which means that I can start anticipating regular meetings of the Tobiasz Women Book Club.

Yes Please– Amy Poehler  

Meh. In term of ranking female celebrity autobiographies, I would say Yes Please trumps Tina Fey’s Bossypants but trails behind Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? I feel like this book would have been better if it was written a few years prior, before Peohler’s divorce to Will Arnett. She still came off as a bit jaded from her divorce, which is fair enough, but not really the kind of content that I want. It was also an example of a book where the author is being forced to write when they don’t really want to. There’s not enough time for the author to digest the stories and the reader is able to detect the author’s resentment that seeped though. I usually try to stay away from celebrity autobiographies but they have a way of pulling me in. Next on the list, but in no rush, is Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl.

The Orenda– Joseph Boyden   

I am ashamed to say this book took me 8 months to get through. It was amazing but it was so long. Everything I picked it up I needed to prepare myself to deal with heartbreak and rushes of emotion so I wasn’t often in the mood to read it. I won’t write a ton about it, the rest of the Internet has said enough and Canada declared it at the greatest. And yes, that ending was insane.

Speaking of, I am so curious to see what happens with Canada Reads this year. I think that whole program needs an overhaul so hopefully this is what it takes to live up to its potential.

Waiting on my Book Shelf:

As always, feel free to gift me any of the books on my Amazon Wishlist. It seems to increase at an alarming rate.

Book Review for the Last Quarter of 2014:

Filling the audio content gap left from Q and Jian Ghomeshi: My New Favourite Podcasts

Now that Q and Jian Ghomeshi are out, do you need something to listen to in order to fill that gap?

My latest Podcast obsession is Entitled Opinions hosted by Robert Harrison out of Stanford University. Podcasts are typically orientated for the common day person, interested in a certain topic but not an expert in it. I find that you can get a surficial understanding of a concept, which is why it is a great start for when you know little about a topic. For the past few years whenever I am in a tough class I will search some key terms in iTunes and see what podcasts come up. Then I’ll listen to a few of them in the days leading up to my class. Without fail, they almost never end up being particularly relevant to class and I end up spending a lot of the class time getting side tracked thinking about how the content relates back to a specific episode. And then I discovered Entitled Opinions….

I have never encountered a podcast that is as insightful and elevating as Entitled Opinions is. The host, Robert Harrison, has a background in Italian Literature and is one of the smartest men I have heard talk. The range of topics is broad, a lot of literature, philosophy, history, and science. He brings on acclaimed professors to talk about certain themes and you feel like you are sitting in on a conversation between two highly intellectual thinkers. This podcast has been instrumental in helping me understanding some of the topics in my Archaeology of Spaces, Places, and Landscapes course.

Here are some of my absolute favourite episodes:

  • Andrei Linde on Cosmology- Well duh, people should listen to this one before tomorrow’s class on Cosmology and Sacred Spaces if they have time. It is more scientific orientated than most of the podcasts in this series, but it does a good job of helping you envision your own cosmology. In class we are talking about the cosmologies of other cultures yet we haven’t stopped to consider our own understanding of where we are in the universe. It makes you realize that our own explanations are myths akin to the stories passed down in past and present societies elsewhere in the world.
  • Michael Shanks on The Origins of Agriculture – Phenomenal episode. As an archaeology student I was kind of over the idea about hearing about the emergence of agriculture since I thought I got the general gist already. Holy I was wrong and wow Michael Shanks is amazing.
  • Andrew Mitchell on the Philosophy of Martin Heidegger- There is also a podcast on a ton of the great thinkers that we have been mentioning in class- Foucault, Nietzsche, Hegel
  • Tanya Luhrmann on Psychological Anthropology
  •  Dr. Stewart Agras on the History of Psychiatry– Not so fun fact from that one that I learned: What mental disorder is the most lethal? Anorexia, it kills more people than depression or schizophrenia.

For Podcast Newbiesyou can get a Podcast App from iTunes and stream all of the episodes there. Or you can go to this website and download the episodes.

My other go-to podcasts

  • The Partially Examined Life: Basically some post graduate students who get together to discuss philosophy and focus on one piece of literature each episode. It is decent, but it is a lot better when you have some sort of experience with the book they are covering.
  • Anthropology and Society: Presentations by Charles Menzies: *Swoon, my greatest complaint about this podcast is that there are hardly any episodes! I worship Charles Menzies. He is brilliant, and brave, and forthcoming about his personal history and how it pertains to the subject matter he studies. He is a maritime anthropologist that works in the Prince Rupert, British Columbia area. I had the pleasure of seeing him speak once and then sharing a campfire on a beautiful beach where he engaged with all of the students around him. Most impressively, he has this ‘no bullshit’ attitude mixed in with a whole lot of compassion. Oh god, I’ve digressed. Listen to this podcast if you have any interest in British Columbia, First Nations, Anthropology, Canadian History and Politics, Land Claim Issues, and Fishery Practices.
  • In Our Time: History: This is just a simple but awesome BBC podcast where they cover one topic of history in about 45min and usually bring on about 3 experts. The problem is you only get a small glimpse into very complicated topics. Still, it is a great approach when you know nothing, like I do about most of human history.


P.S. Guys, I’m so bored without Television.

Setting Lifestyle Goals in Grad School:

For each month this year I am trying to fulfill one substantial lifestyle goal. September was a weak start but I gave up Real Housewives and all other reality TV  and buying coffee. At this point it is the longest I have gone without watching Housewives in at least 5 years. I am even going to Atlanta in two weeks and still have completely ignored the urge to watch RHOA.

October was significantly harder because I had a Sober-October. I gave up drinking for the full month. I allowed myself one cheat day for my cousin’s wedding back in Calgary. It was hard but I did it and it ended up feeling surprisingly great. I decided to do it because I needed a reminder of what it felt to actually live a sober lifestyle. So many people chose to live this way and I figured it must have some validity to it. I was curious with how different my life would be for a month by swearing off alcohol. Here are the benefits that I experienced being sober:

  • It was great for the bank. I saved a ton of money in a single month by not drinking out at the bar.
  • My body felt a lot better. Alcohol has so many calories, plus a night of drinking is generally paired with pub food and carb-heavy breakfasts. I wasn’t half as worried about the food I was consuming because I knew I was still doing better than normal.
  • Not a single wasted hung-over day. That adds about 3 complete days to my month.
  • You can still have a lot of fun going out, just make sure you have enough energy.

Now that October is over I am breaking my sobriety but I am going to make some big changes in my drinking rules:

  • No more than three drinks in a sitting. I’m passed the point in my life when I want to be super wasted. From now on I am only going to strive for a solid buzz.
  • Drink darker beers. I used to love dark beers but never drank them when I wanted to consume several beverages and they were too heavy. Instead I drank the lightest beer possible in order to optimize consumption potential. So opting for darker beverages should help reduce the drinking speed.
  • If you only plan on consuming one beverage, just stick to a non-alcoholic drink instead. This is because it is not worth the calories or money or unhealthy drink if you aren’t actually going to get the benefits of alcohol. I’m not advocating binge drinking. Instead, try to restrict drinking to more significant events, especially during the week.

Now that it is November it is time for a new goal and for this month it is going to be giving up all television. Honestly, I think it will be harder than being sober because I watch a lot of TV. Sure I gave up all Real Housewives and other reality TV but I filled that gap with Netflix thanks to Gossip Girl and Gilmour Girls. I know it will be extremely difficult but I also think that it is tragic that I feel like I can’t survive without consuming TV. It’s time to see how I fill in the gaps in my life that are opened because of my boycott on TV. I’m allowing myself audiobooks, podcasts, and YouTube videos (but not complete shows). And I’m hoping to read way more because I haven’t read for pleasure since the summer. Mass consuming TV the way I do is just so passive, it breeds laziness, and the benefits are minimal. Whatever I end up doing, it’ll still be more productive than watching Netflix.

Giving Up Sugar: That will be the hardest month goal ever but I know I will have to do it at some point.