Anthropology Pre-Grad Intern Kendall Miller

Kendall MillerBefore I took the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Internship class, I had no idea what I was going to do with an Anthropology undergrad degree. I was considering graduate school but I wasn't sure if I really wanted to go and if the pros would outweigh the cons. I was even considering taking graphic design classes at ACC just so I could have something to fall back on.

I began this semester setting up a schedule with my mentor Robyn Dodge, who is getting her Ph.D in archaeology. Throughout the semester she gave me guidance and insights into what grad school is really like. Although we didn't start off with any type of research project, over the course of time I decided to take one on.

After interviewing two professors (one in archaeology and one in cultural anthropology) for our first assignment, I felt inspired to do my own research. The most helpful things I took from their interviews were:

1) Not everything is planned out.
2) Things have a way of falling into place and working out.
3) Never conform to what the academia world is telling you the path should be and always do what you are passionate about or what interests you.

The cultural anthropology professor told me about her senior thesis from her undergraduate years. It opened a whole new world to me. She just went out into the world and researched what she wanted because it's what interested her. She even took a year off to do it! A bonus that she described was that writing a senior thesis prepares you for grad school and she couldn't stress enough how rewarding the experience is.

After our conversation, I immediately knew I wanted to do my own research and explore something I was interested in. After doing so many research projects that are assigned in class, I forgot how much I actually like doing research on topics that I define, not my professors. I began talking to Robyn about the requirements for a senior thesis. After coming up with a topic, I did some first-stage research and wrote a thesis proposal. I got two professors in my department to sign off on it. Now I am just waiting to hear back from the department on their approval.

If my topic does get approved, my internship won't really end after this semester. I am going to begin my research in Belize with Robyn this summer and I couldn't be more excited! Robyn has also offered to help me with the writing process of the senior thesis in the next semesters to follow. I really value her guidance and enthusiasm.

During my time with Robyn, I also learned a lot about graduate school. The most important thing I learned was that I want to go! Although I know it's a lot of hard work, Robyn gave me the tools I need to make graduate experience a good one.

After finally figuring out that I do want to stick with anthropology and archaeology plus my outside interests, I now understand what type of graduate program will be best for me. I have decided to apply to a museums studies program that will incorporate all of my interests. Robyn showed me that it was important to do thorough research on both the programs offered and the professors' work to see if our interests mesh well. In preparation for grad school, Robyn also helped me to understand the process of grad school. I learned how grad school is structured and what is expected. It feels nice knowing what to expect for grad school instead of going in completely blind and nervous. Robyn and I also talked about the steps I will have to take to apply for grad school like taking the GRE, what to send in, how to send it in. We went over important things like categories and formatting my resume, research proposals and travel and research grants. She also helped me to make important decisions like narrowing down schools and program choices.

Throughout the semester, Robyn showed me what her life was like as a grad student. We often talked about balancing personal life with academic life. I saw her deal with students as their TA and her interactions with other colleagues. She has set a wonderful example for me and I hope my grad school experience is just as rewarding as hers. I am very excited to go to an academic conference with her in May and then to start research in Belize in June.

Overall, the Intellectual Entrepreneurship class helped me more than I imagined. I felt so lost in the beginning of the semester and doubted everything from my major to life after school. The intellectual Entrepreneurship program helped me to map out what I want to do, what is possible in my field of interest and how to achieve my goals. Now I have a clear-cut path of what I want to do, and I have learned to be flexible and realize that things have a way of working themselves out. It also taught me that it's a lot easier to get what you want if you just reach out and grab it. Every chance I get a recommend this program to friends and classmates because it has been an incredibly helpful and rewarding experience.