A lesson I learned last semester: don’t wait to ask for opportunities. The semester isn’t as long as you think it will be and you don’t want to wait too long. This happened to me when I visited the archaeological lab in Ecuador. It was a fantastic experience and I loved visiting, but I found out when I got there that if I had visited a month or two earlier I could have volunteered!
This semester I wanted to be more ahead of the game, so I reached out to a lab director at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens (ASCSA), which works often with biological and osteological analyses, to see if he had any work for me. Lo and behold, he did! So now I volunteer twice a week in the lab washing bones and sorting cremated pig remains. I work alongside researchers to help with the basics of their projects. The lab director and researchers are great about having me do work that’s pretty basic, but useful and making sure I know what I’m doing.
Although it’s not necessarily the most exciting work, I enjoy being able to work in the lab and gain experience. In a couple weeks, a new researcher will be arriving with a project for me to work on. I’m not quite sure what it will entail, but I look forward to helping her with it.
I also told one of my professors about my future career goals and he put me in touch with the British School of Archaeology in Athens. I had the opportunity to tour their lab, which works mostly with inorganic analysis. I also talked to the director, and starting in a few weeks, I will start volunteering there as well, giving me two really cool experiences to be able to use to gain skills and add to my resume.