Over a one-and-a-half-year period I worked at two nonproﬁts, Witness for Peace Southeast (WFPSE), a small international nonproﬁt that focuses on human rights issues created by United States military and economic intervention in Latin America, and a large environmental organization in Australia, Greenpeace Australia Paciﬁc (GPAP). Though the organizations diﬀered in size, location, and interests, my work at both generated similar queries about how anthropology can be used outside of the academic setting. However, for both roles with the nonproﬁts, I was not hired as an anthropologist. Instead, it was assumed that my anthropological learnings would bolster my work and creativity throughout the job. I hoped this would hold true. Nonetheless, with both positions I struggled to determine how my studies would amplify my work, as little I learned in school spoke directly to working outside of the ﬁeld of academia. My story begins in 2013 when I graduated with a master’s in anthropology from
George Mason University. When I began graduate school I wanted to use my anthropological education to work from within the US government and better international relationships. My master’s was aimed to buttress my passion for humane US policies with the knowledge, skills, and qualiﬁcations necessary to pursue my goal, which, simply put, was to help people. However, as my education continued I quickly decided that I was uncomfortable
working within an institution in which the results of my research could be taken piecemeal and used to justify already existing policies that needed alterations. I adhere to the notion that all anthropological work should be published publicly. And so, I decided I wanted to pressure the system from the outside instead of working within it. Getting my master’s in anthropology to “further my career” was not about increasing my salary (though I hoped this would be a happy side-eﬀect), it was intended to assist me in ﬁnding my niche in the world, to make my daily life more meaningful through an education that gave me the skills and knowledge to
make a sustainable change in the ills of the world – speciﬁcally the impacts of US militarization in Latin America. Throughout my struggle to ﬁnd my career, I have slowly learned that my career does not deﬁne me. I deﬁne my career. My passion, my interests, my love and knowledge of anthropology, and my own need to have a job that I feel pays earth and humankind for my existence, deﬁnes what I do. As I child I always sought as much information about a situation as I could
gather. I knew there was always more than one side of a story, usually more than two or three. As an adult, this impetus transferred over into a passion for anthropology’s holistic nature. I have always wanted answers, but not the simple ones, the complex, tangled, gray, and messy answers that reﬂect the veracity of life. To me, anthropology’s power lies in its ability to provide these answers, answers that can bring new perspectives to policy debates, social movements, and anything and everything in-between. Anthropology was not just a degree, it was a tool to help me ﬁnd a career that ﬁlls a personal need for meaning, a meaning that I contrasted and nourished throughout my time in the nonproﬁt ﬁeld. The experiences I encountered in the nonproﬁt world helped me establish my
own rules of conduct and ethical protocols as an anthropologist. However, more questions were also created. Is there a uniform deﬁnition of anthropology, or is it based on individual application? Where does anthropology end and the nonproﬁt business world begin? This chapter explores what many graduates and students are keen to know. What is the job hunt like in the nonproﬁt industry post-graduation? Does an anthropology degree help you ﬁnd employment in a nonproﬁt? How do you use your degree at your job? I will relate my personal and professional journey as I exited graduate school, sought nonproﬁt employment, and arrived at two positions in nonproﬁt organizations in which I sought to deﬁne what anthropology was to me while reconciling the sometimes rigid academic structures of thinking, discourse, and methodology into existing worldviews of nonproﬁt organizations.