How to Talk to Faculty

Building a working relationship with faculty members can be extremely rewarding.

Building a Working Relationship With a Member of the Faculty

  • Think in terms of doing extra work, not asking for favors.
  • Think in terms of getting to know the field of anthropology better.
  • Tell the story of who you are, where you’re from, what your passions are and where you think you want to go next.


Questions to Ask Yourself Before Meeting

1. What am I passionate about?
For Example: “I’m interested in people and the environment, but I think I’m really interested in how different communities recover from ecological disasters.”

2. How do your passions connect with anthropology?
For Example: “I really enjoyed learning about human biology in my last school, but I feel like I didn’t learn about how environment and culture affect human biology.”

3. What would you like to learn more about right now?“

What Are You Here For? 

Find Out.  Then Ask For It.

For Example: I’d like to learn how to apply cultural anthropology theory and methods to social media and online political activism.”

4. How would you like to learn more?“
For Example: "Do I want to do out-of-class reading? Attend a workshop or lecture outside of class? Do I want to do an internship?”

5. What possible post-grad career paths am I interested in?
For Example: “I’d really like to work on documentaries and I’m taking film production classes, but I’d like to learn more about ethically depicting another culture.”


Possible Topics for a First Meeting

1. Talk about your passions.
For Example: “I’m really interested in how skeletal analysis can help identify missing people."

2. Talk about what made you interested in the field.
For Example: “I got to participate in an archaeological impact assessment at my community college; I’d really like to explore how cultural heritage sites and civic planning can work together.”

Tell Your Story. 

There's Nothing More Interesting To An Anthropologist Than ... You!

3. Talk about where you’re from.
For Example: “I grew up in a multilingual family and I’ve always been curious about how language and family role affect identity.”

4. Talk about current events and how they interact with the field.
For Example: “I’ve been really interested in reading about the Dakota Access Pipeline. I know you teach Anthropology of Activism. Can you recommend anyone in the field doing work with this issue?”

5. Ask about a specific part of class you enjoy and how you can learn more on your own.
For Example: “I really enjoyed reading about participant observation in class and I wonder if there are different formats that people are using to present what they learned. Can you recommend anyone doing interesting stuff with participant observation?”

6. Ask about new developments in anthropology and good places to learn more.
For Example: “I’ve been reading about California public schools changing the ways that they teach about the Spanish Mission system; I’m wondering what kind of debates are going on amongst archaeologists about this?”


Possible Follow-Up Topics

1. Ask faculty who has had the biggest impact on their work and who you should read.
For Example: “Who was the first person that really got you interested in medical anthropology? I’d love suggestions for who I should read.”

 Where Are You Going? 

Faculty will tell you how to get there.

2. Ask faculty how to attend a conferences.
For Example: “It seems like there’s so many interesting things being done with food studies right now. Is there a good conference on food studies I should try and attend? Would this be a conference I could present at as an undergrad?"

3. Ask faculty what paths some of their former students are pursuing.
For Example: “I really love doing ethnographic work with different populations within the U.S. What are some ways that your former students are applying these skills?"

4. Ask faculty what they wish they’d known as undergrads.
For Example: “I’m trying to figure out if I should graduate early or if there are opportunities I should explore while I’m still a student. Are there experiences you had or wish you’d had while an undergrad that you wish everyone had?”

5. Ask faculty about interesting classes outside of the Anthropology major.
For Example: “I’d like to expand my understanding of ceramics in archaeology. Would it be more helpful to take art classes or earth science classes?”