In keeping with my goals of networking to further my career opportunities (see post “Networking for Introverts”), I signed up for the Mentoring Session for Careers in Archaeology for Government Archaeology Work. This is a new session, sponsored by the Queer Archaeology Interest Group and the Committee for Status of Women in Archaeology, during which small groups of graduate students and young professionals were matched up with archaeologists experienced in the subgroup topic – other groups talked about Work/Life balance, discrimination in the workplace, moving from graduate school to tenure track and other topics, all within the lens of the challenges particular to women and queer folks in archaeology. I wasn’t exactly what the format or discussion topics would be, but as a queer woman entering government service, I want to take advantage of every chance to talk to and learn from others in the know – and I’m so grateful for QAIG and COSWA for setting up the event. I hope they continue to provide opportunities to discuss these topics in a safe and open environment.
For the Government Archaeology table, we had two excellent mentors – David E. Witt from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Christopher Donnermeyer of Gifford Pinchot National Forest, plus about six mentees (including myself). Our conversation was very informal and insightful. We talked about experiences in how to navigate working with very traditional or conservative stakeholders as an openly gay person and some of the other (unfortunately common) problems in the workplace when your co-workers are not as open-minded as they could be. One of the most useful pieces of advice was to find a like-minded mentor in either your agency or area of work – they will be able to help you navigate the workplace and help to protect and support you should you find yourself in a discriminatory or negative environment. We also talked about more general concerns in government archaeology, such as building relationships and fostering trust with Tribal groups – a definite must for successful consultation and collaboration. We were fortunate to have mentors from both State and Federal agencies and were able to get both perspectives on the hiring process and how to look for job listings.
Hopefully they’ll continue to organize these kinds of events; I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with both of the mentors and the other mentees from my session and would love to meet up with them again in a year’s time to see where everyone is!