"I think that a marketable skill to any research firm is that you can go beyond offering just description and begin offering explanations."
MA Anthropology, The University of Memphis
U of M Graduating Class of 2013
Position Title: Donor Experience Management Liaison - Donor Understanding, ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN
While he admits that early on he wasn't initially sure what he hoped to do in the future, Kyle Simpson eventually "stumbled into" the program at the U of M after unsuccessfully trying a variety of other majors. "I continued in the program and really figured out I had a feel for anthropology and that it kind of made sense with the way I viewed the world."
Kyle recognizes that although there certainly is a learning curve between graduate and undergraduate level coursework, undergrad at the U of M laid the foundations for both graduate school and his current career. In addition to building key relationships with his professors, "It set me up well because I knew what anthropology was."
For example, Kyle notes Dr. Brondo's Cultural Perspectives on the Environment course as a watershed moment for his student career. Although he had general interest in conservation before, this class "challenged my beliefs" he says, paving the way for his graduate studies at the U of M in environmental anthropology and his eventual practicum with the Nature Conservancy in Tennessee.
Today, Kyle works on the Donor Experience Management team at ALSAC, the fundraising branch of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Drawing on his undergraduate and graduate experiences, Kyle works with diverse populations using his skills in a variety of qualitative methods, data analysis, and social theory in order to better understand and improve the experience of donating.
For current students, Kyle recommends seeking out experiences that support research and writing skills. "I think that a marketable skill to any research firm is that you can go beyond offering just description and begin offering explanations." While on the job search, it is also important to learn how to market yourself and explain your degree in a clear way. "I think anthropology offers a really valuable skill set in kind of any setting," but you need "to know how to say what skills you have and to put them into terms that other people can understand."