Santa Clara University

Careers in Anthropology

Anthropology is well situated to help prepare its majors for the jobs of the 21st century. A number of significant job trends complement the skills of the anthropologist: (1) work is increasingly international; (2) the workforce and market are increasingly culturally diverse; (3) management and decision making in organizations are increasingly participatory; (4) the flow of communication and information continues to grow.* Therefore, our anthropology program stresses the applied nature of the field, with special emphasis programs in Applied Anthropology, Archaeology, and Law and Society. Off-campus internships that give our students real experience in career related areas are a requirement of each emphasis. Our goal is to assist our students to link their academic studies with life in the community and future careers.

Combining their degrees with a variety of post-graduate experiences and degree programs, our majors have gone on to a variety of interesting fields. We spotlight two examples of our students who took their anthropology degrees on to establish two career "success stories":

Success Story - 1

Christopher Bowen graduated from Santa Clara in 1990 with a double major in Anthropology and French. At Santa Clara, Christopher participated in SCAAP and campus ministry, and was active in the Anthropology and French clubs. He also worked part-time on campus and during the summers for Citibank.

Following his graduation from SCU, Christopher went to the University of Virginia School of Law and obtained his JD in 1993. During the summers after his first and second years in law school, he clerked in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office and at Contra Costa Legal Services in Richmond. After law school graduation and sitting for the California Bar Exam, Christopher was hired as a law clerk in the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office in Martinez, where he now works as a Deputy Public Defender. His job assignments have ranged from working in juvenile dependency court, where he represented minors and parents in situations where families came under court supervision after reports of neglect or abuse, to representing adults charged with criminal offenses at both the felony and misdemeanor level. His current practice is focused on felony trial work.

He says that the anthropology major was helpful to him in law school and his later work as a lawyer because of the anthropology program’s emphasis on critical thinking skills and the senior thesis requirement, which involved organizing a large amount of information and presenting the analysis thoroughly yet succinctly in written form.

Success Story - 2

Melanie Gangle graduated from Santa Clara in 1993 with a degree in anthropology. Her senior thesis focused on SCU students with disabilities. She worked at several jobs before building on her thesis work to initiate her career in the disabilities field.

She began working as a community advocate for people with disabilities for several years with Redbridge Access and Mobility Projects. She next completed her M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling at Western Oregon University, and she is now a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. As part of her graduate training, she interned in Portland State University’s Disability Services Office. She followed her master’s degree by completing a post-graduate internship at the Pentagon in the Department of Defense’s Disability Program in Summer 2000. Since August 2000, she has served as Coordinator of the Office for Students with Disabilities and Learning Assistance Counselor for the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon. There she is responsible for coordinating the university’s compliance with state and federal laws pertaining to access for students with disabilities. She works with students, faculty, staff, administrators and parents in order to ensure appropriate services for these students. She also provides study skills training for all university students. She is a former President of the Oregon Association of Higher Education and Disability.

She says that the rigorous preparation in the anthropology program has helped her immensely, and that she utilizes the ethnographic perspective characteristic of anthropological research methods daily in her work.

SCU anthropology majors have gone to an array of diverse career pursuits. Given the range of interests that are a part of the discipline, there are no limits to what a student of anthropology might pursue. The following list is a small sample of the distinctive career fields of our students:

‘82 Marketing Director, California Prune Board
‘83 Independent film maker
‘83 Elementary School Teacher, Princeton, NJ
‘84 Physician, University of Washington Hospital
‘85 Park Archaeologist, Yosemite National Park
‘91 Nurse, Yale New Haven Hospital
‘94 Journalist, Mayo Clinic
‘94 Attorney, Gray Cary Ware & Freiden
‘95 Business Director, Veridian
"97 Museum Curator, Independence Hall
‘98 Victims Advocate, Tulare County Family Services
‘98 Process Analyst, Accenture.

As a part of our career commitment in the Anthropology Program, all of our majors receive a copy of John T. Omokundro’s Careers in Anthropology when they join the program. Faculty use this book in both teaching and advising to assist students to prepare for career decision making. We also recommend several websites that students may wish to consult for career information:

1. American Anthropological Association (
2. Northern Kentucky University (

*John T. Omokundro Careers in Anthropology, Mayfield Publishing, 2001.

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