Friday, 18 May 2012

Cat Jarman - Career Interview

Where did you graduate and what are you doing now?
 I graduated with a degree in Archaeology from the University of Bristol in 2004. I've just finished an MA in Archaeology at the University of Oslo, Norway, and have been awarded an AHRC studentship to study for a PhD at Bristol University starting in September this year. I'm going to be investigating a Viking site in Derbyshire through isotope analyses of human remains, looking at geographical origins, diet and mobility among the people buried there.
I also teach lifelong learning courses at the University of Bristol, and will be running their Introduction to Archaeology Summer School for the sixth year this July. I have two young children so I divide my time between teaching and studying  archaeology, and being a mum!  
When you graduated were you looking for a career in archaeology?
 Yes - I wanted to continue with research and start a career in academia. I was even offered a PhD studentship just before I graduated, but in the end it fell through as I didn't meet the research council's eligibility criteria (I hadn't lived in the UK for long enough to qualify). I started looking for other jobs in archaeology instead, but couldn't get any paid fieldwork as I had no commercial fieldwork experience. I worked in visitor services at the Roman Baths Museum for a while, and then got a job with my local library service promoting reading to families in disadvantaged areas. Not long after I had my first baby I was asked if I was interested in teaching lifelong learning courses at Bristol University, and I jumped at the opportunity to get back into archaeology! I started teaching introductory evening and  weekend courses, and developed and started teaching the Archaeology Summer School in Bristol in 2007. This inspired me to go back to study for an MA, and I decided to go to Norway, my home country, to get a different perspective on the subject. 
How has a degree in archaeology benefited your career?
 Absolutely - I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to teach the subject or continue with research without it. But when I started working in the library service I was surprised to see how my degree benefited me even in a completely  different type of work. Throughout my undergraduate course we'd always been told about the 'transferable skills' we'd come away with when we graduated, but it was not until I started working full-time that really understood what that meant!  Archaeology is  a unique subject to study as it brings together so many different skills. You have the opportunity to learn about almost every aspect of human experiences and behaviours, and the ways in which people have interacted with things, each other, and the natural world around them. In addition you learn team work, critical thinking, research, and communication skills  -  which are essential skills for success in so many careers.
What has been the greatest success in your career so far?
 I am delighted to be well on my way to achieving my ambition of becoming a researcher, and I am incredibly excited about starting my PhD this year. Although combining study with being a parent is hard work, it also gives me a level of flexibility I couldn't get elsewhere.

I am also proud of the success of the summer school, which has grown from something quite small in its first year to a very popular course with students from around the world! I am passionate about my subject and love teaching, and it's sharing archaeology with others that really inspires me.
Although it has taken a little while longer to get to where I want to be than I first expected,  I think the different jobs and roles I've had since graduating have been hugely beneficial to my career.

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