Stefan Sagrott graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2009. We caught up with him to ask him about his career and thoughts so far.
I graduated with a degree in archaeology from the University of Edinburgh in 2009. I had always intended to follow this up with an MSc by research and perhaps a PhD into my main interest which is hillforts. Instead I undertook a taught Msc in Environmental Sustainability, whilst working part time as an Illustrator for AOC Archaeology, and since graduating also work as a Junior Consultant.
When you graduated were you looking for a career in archaeology?
I had the misfortune to graduate a year after the global financial crisis, the construction industry in the UK had basically shut up shop and archaeology companies were downsizing drastically. I was looking for work in archaeology, as that’s all I had imagined myself doing, but there simply weren’t any jobs, so instead I ended up working in a bar for a year. Just as I’d applied to do the Masters in Environmental Sustainability, I got a call from a company I’d done some work for when I was a student, asking if I wanted a few weeks work cleaning and measuring bricks from the excavation of an industrial site. That developed into some temporary illustration work, so I went ahead with my Masters whilst working part-time as an illustrator. During my Masters I studied quite a bit on Environmental Impact Assessment, planning law and wind farms, and when I graduated I was lucky enough to not only be taken on fulltime by AOC, but also as a Junior Consultant, allowing me to put my Masters to good use.
How has a degree in archaeology benefited your career?
These days any archaeology job requires a degree, so having a degree in archaeology is essential for getting a job. A lot of what I learnt at university isn’t used on a day to day basis in my job, but it is still useful for background reference and understanding sites, as well as teaching you to research and write succinctly. Other things I learnt, such as GIS, I use on a daily basis, and I’d advise everyone who can to get some experience with GIS software. What is most useful are the contacts I made and the fieldwork I carried out during my summers. By the time I graduated I had over 6 months fieldwork experience on both research excavations and commercial excavations and this is invaluable if you’re trying to get a job in archaeology.
Would you go back into Archaeology later down the line?
At the moment I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to work in archaeology every day. It might not be the exact career I had in mind; I never considered illustration or consultancy, I always assumed I’d start off as an excavator! However I’m still considering doing a PhD eventually, although at the moment there’s no rush for anything.