Everyone knows professional service is an important part of fostering career growth. It also offers great networking opportunities, and gives you the chance to provide your input and expertise in the direction of the organization and discipline. Becoming active in an organization, however, can be daunting. Students may be unsure where they are welcome or concerned about the level of commitment required. SHA student members are fortunate to have many options available to them, as well as a community of non-student members who encourage their involvement. The annual conference is a great opportunity to become involved in professional service in a number of different ways.
Organizers in each host city want to share the fantastic resources available in the region. Tours of local archaeological sites and museums often afford a behind the scenes look. Workshops and round table lunches are also a great way to not only learn a new skill, but to meet other archaeologists with similar interests. Activities provide a relaxed environment and usually have built-in conversation starters. It is true that these activities cost a bit extra, but student prices are typically available.
The SHA has a wide variety of committees that oversee, organize and execute the organizations work. Friday evening there is a public business meeting that all members, students included, are encouraged to attend. Many committees may appeal to your specific interests such as the Public Education and Interpretation Committee. An obvious choice is the Student Subcommittee of the Academic and Professional Training Committee. The SSC is run by students and addresses student concerns. The Gender and Minority Affair Committee also has a new student subcommittee as well. A list of the committees is on the SHA website, along with contact information for the committee chairs: feel free to contact them about your interest, or show up at the meeting. But be prepared. Committee meetings are usually early in the day so that members can also participate in the Conference. You can find the times in the program. Also, attending a meeting isn’t a passive activity: you may find yourself working on a project for the committee during the year. This is a good thing, though. It’s why you’re getting involved.
Working at the Conference is a great way to meet people as they register and throughout the conference. There are often great perks too. Contact Kathy Concannon (email@example.com) for volunteer options for January 2012 (money saving tip: get in early, and you may very well find yourself with a little discount to the conference).
Other activities offer students a means to get more involved, meet new people and are free. Each year the SHA Past Presidents host a student reception. This is a great reason to come to the annual conference early (It is usually the first evening). Meet other students and senior archaeologists working across the globe. And don’t be shy: the Past Presidents enjoy this event and are excited to talk to the future of archaeology. They are there to talk with you! Ask them about how they got involved, and if they have any tips about how to increase your visibility within the discipline.
With so many opportunities, it is easy to get swept up. Asking questions first is typically the best way to figure out what are the best opportunities for you. This includes emails to committee chairs, asking the Past Presidents about how to be involved, talking with your advisor, and testing out workshops and other activities at the conference. Be cautious about what you can handle: what will conflict with your schoolwork or other commitments? Although colleagues understand your obligations, not keeping a commitment will reflect poorly, so be mindful. Take the time to attend several things before you commit. Your time is limited and you want to find the best use of it. If you really want to work with a particular committee but are unsure where you fit in, ask how you can help. There is plenty of work to go around.