Graduate studies

Once in graduate school, students should have already decided upon their field of expertise. If you are not in Egyptology or a related field by now, the chances of switching to a degree in this field are slim to none.

If you are already enroled in a graduate programme in Egyptology (either MA or PhD), there is not much I can offer in terms of advice other than making yourself known to your peers by presenting and attending conferences as well as publishing your research whenever possible. By now, you should know that a career in the field doesn’t pay much unless you find a job as a university professor or a museum curator. If that’s what you really want to do and you know you have the tenacity to survive in this field, don’t give up even if gets tough at times. You’ll eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel…

At this point, all you can do is switch majors/minors as you realise which speciality within the field of Egyptology interests you the most. This was the case for me: I switched my major from langagues and history to archaeology between my first and second year of PhD. During my MA, one professor had told me that it would not be wise for me to start a PhD in archaeology without field experience (even if I aced all my archaeology classes and I was super interested in this speciality), so I started a PhD in ancient Egyptian languages and history. During my first year, another professor noticed I was dissatisfied with my major, and told me that he thought I was specialising in the wrong field, that I was the ideal candidate for a career in archaeology. Right there and then, he asked me to join his team (I was flabbergasted!) and I muttered something about not having any field experience… He promptly interrupted me saying that he believed the other professor was wrong and that my qualifications, interests and personality were more suited to archaeology than philology and history. I told him I would think about it over the holidays. After spending that summer on a dig in Jordan (thanks to a small but well spent academic merit scholarship and another understanding professor who didn’t mind me joining his team without any experience), I had completely fallen in love with archaeological fieldwork and immediately decided to switch majors… I have been an archaeologist ever since and haven’t regretted my decision.

After completing your studies comes the difficult part: finding a job in the field! If you keep an open mind, you’ll be able to find something decent. You might not find an academic job right away, but if you find a seasonal job that allows you to go off on a dig for a couple of months a year, take it! You’ll be able to make ends meet and still work in the field, which is the important thing. And don’t sneeze at short 8 months contracts as research fellow in universities or museums: they give your much needed work experience, will pay the bills and get your the foot in the door as an internal candidate for a permanent job. In either case, keep networking, make yourself known to your colleagues, attends conferences if you can, just get yourself out there.


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