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Keywords:

  • applied anthropology;
  • development anthropology;
  • overseas work;
  • networking;
  • careers

Applied anthropologists commonly work overseas, particularly in the areas of international development and humanitarian assistance. The competencies or skill sets they bring to this work make them exceptionally well-suited to succeed. At the same time, their training does not fully prepare them either to compete successfully for international assignments with other nonanthropologist candidates, or for some of the challenges they may face in the field. This article outlines the qualifications needed for employment in international development and humanitarian assistance, and breaks down these qualifications into categories. I then look in detail at how students, even in a very traditional anthropology program, can prepare themselves for employment as practitioners in the international arena. The article provides an outline of the structure of today's “development industry” and describes how development organizations identify and hire candidates. I describe how to use a simple Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) technique to establish one's own areas of particular strength before entering the job market. I then describe a simple and straightforward approach to job-hunting, interviewing, and evaluating job offers. Throughout this article, I stress that although the strength and quality of anthropology's contribution to overseas work can be considerable, academic preparation alone is not enough—anthropologists who work overseas in development or humanitarian assistance must have more to offer than research skills alone, and must be able to work effectively with others, many of whom will come from different cultural and/or disciplinary backgrounds. I conclude by reminding practitioners in the field to maintain strong connections with their academic roots and to contribute to the transformation of anthropology from a discipline into a true profession.