Anthropology grad finds the career opportunity he was looking for with California-based PAR Environmental Services
Since 2009, the news was filled with stories about recent college graduates who are having a difficult time finding work — of any kind — let alone in their field of study. But Josh Allen — who graduated from the University of Idaho with a bachelor's in anthropology in the spring of 2012, had his first professional job as an archaeological technician within a month, and has since gone on to secure a full-time position at PAR Environmental Services in Sacramento, California, where he has worked since May of 2012, and it is just what he was looking for.
“Unlike many archaeological tech jobs, I work both in the office assisting with reports, archaeological site forms, paper work, and I work in the field on regular basis, mostly in California, although I just returned from central Utah,” he explains.
PAR is a California corporation founded thirty years ago which provides cultural resources management and environmental planning for clients throughout California and the west. Josh assists with the cultural resources part of the business, which provides expertise in historic preservation, architectural history, historical and prehistoric archaeology, ethnography and Native American consultation. The company does everything from evaluating buildings and historic sites, to assisting in preparing formal nominations for the National Register of Historic Places, to creating pamphlets, exhibits and articles for public interpretation.
Allen says the variety and importance of the work that PAR does is something he values the most.
“As part of the job, we find new things every time we go out; some are more mundane and others are important pieces of the archaeological record. There is always a sense of excitement when you’re in a new place, always a chance to make a really important discovery or see new things. ”
The Sandpoint native gives credit for the early opportunities he has had with the hands-on experience he gained while at Idaho, along with lots of volunteer work, and solid recommendations from his professors.
“I was lucky to have some devoted professors and staff members who presented their students opportunities to gain useful experience. The Anthropology Department was also able to fund trips to conferences which allowed undergrads to present information to the professional archaeological community. With the help of these individuals I had the opportunity to work on multiple sites and projects during my three years at UI.”
One of these site projects was funded by a CLASS Key Fund award he received which allowed Allen to travel to Amache, Colorado where he took part in a research dig of the internment camp at that location. In addition, he says the training he received in the lab was equally invaluable.
“The University of Idaho is privileged to be one of Idaho's three archaeological repositories (Alfred W. Bowers Laboratory of Anthropology) which allows students hands on experience with prehistoric and historical archaeological collections. The laboratory offers some of the best professional Cultural Resource Management experience and knowledge available at the University.”
Allen encourages other students, regardless of their major, to take advantage of every opportunity they can that may aid in their future profession.
“Be involved in any way possible, know your department and the people in it and most importantly take the time to volunteer. Much of the knowledge and skills I gained at UI were through volunteer opportunities, I know that is very cliché but it is true none the less.”
Josh understands that life as an archaeologist can be difficult, but with new places, new discoveries and the opportunity to work outdoors, he says he looks forward to the challenge.
“It’s something that I had always hoped for in a career.”
In the future, Josh plans on building on his experience and education by pursuing a masters degree and hopes to one day work and study in England.
Article by Micki Panttaja, College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences