Margaret James

Margaret JamesMA European Historical Archaeology (Research Track), 2011

How has studying archaeology affected your work ethic?

Archaeology is definitely still a part of my life. Working in the museum field constantly surrounds me with archaeology. I also keep up with archaeology in the news, and I try to read at least one archaeology related paper or book every month, just to keep the wheels greased (so to speak). My MA in European Historical Archaeology from Sheffield really was a deciding factor in going into my career in museum education. While it's not working in the field or in an academic setting, I understand cultural heritage and how to preserve it much better.

How has your degree experience helped you in your career?

I teach and develop programming at the Milwaukee Public Museum in Wisconsin, a regional cultural and natural history museum. I do use my basic knowledge of archaeology and archaeological practices on a regular basis, but not my specific degree knowledge. I use the skilled I developed at Sheffield all the time.

Where did life take you after graduation?

After leaving Sheffield, I moved back to Milwaukee and took a position as a visitor assistant at the Milwaukee Public Museum. After two years working my way up in the Visitor Services I moved into the Education Department, where I was part-time until I was promoted to full-time.

My MA in European Historical Archaeology from Sheffield really was a deciding factor in going into my career in museum education

What is your current job like?

My current position as an educator is largely about facilitating and developing programming for school groups, families, and the general public. Because we have a large collection of both natural science and cultural objects, I get the unique opportunity to learn about all those fields and to design events, activities, and programmes that use our exhibits as teaching tools. My typical day usually involves two hours of teaching on the floors (school group or camp programs) and six hours of program development time behind the scenes, working with curators, collections, and doing research.

What advice would you give to a current Archaeology student?

If you're passionate about it (and I've found most archaeologists are the most passionate of people), follow it. Just be sure you know what it is you're getting into. Archaeology is one of the most frustrating and rewarding fields. Remember that even if you don't end up using all the data you collected for a specific site at a specific period of time, you will always use the skills of comprehensive reading, clear writing, and broadened thinking.