Catch-up time!

self portrait, me in a hard hat wearing ppe
This is me now!

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. A lot has been going on, which means there’s a lot to catch up on. And, I’ve been very busy.

I need to rewind to the end of last semester, when I completed my Human Osteology course with an A and, as I often do, I asked the professor if she’d be willing to write me a recommendation for any future job or scholarship opportunity that might come up. She agreed!

This semester I’m taking a required Statistics class, and also a class on Construction Site Safety that’s basically the OSHA 30-hour course without the OSHA 30 certification. On my own, a couple weekends ago I took the OSHA 10-hour construction industry safety course online. For that, I received the OSHA 10 card.

OSHA-10 card atop archaeology book with two vintage Hot Wheels vehicles
CRM archaeology involves a lot of construction sites. OSHA training will help keep me and others safe.

I ended up dropping the Geology class, and also a fun class on Theatre and Social Issues, to focus on the Stat class. It seems to have been the smart decision, because keeping up with the Stat class is like a full-time job. Plus, the farther we go in statistics, the more relevant it seems. I suspect an awful lot of archaeological discoveries are made, not in the field or in the lab, but in data analysis. So that’s the academic side up to date for the spring semester.

Except for one big event. My Osteology professor emailed me about a scholarship opportunity, then a couple weeks later sent another email urging me to apply for it. That kind of personal attention from a professor, you don’t ignore. So, right on the due date, I put together an application package, wrote a brief essay, and sent it in.

I figured it was practice for next year, when I’d be more qualified for the award. One issue, for instance, is that with on-site counseling offices closed for the pandemic, my college transcripts from Cal State Fullerton are languishing in a mailroom, awaiting the reopening of district offices so they can be evaluated by hand. (They are so old, digital versions don’t exist.) Until they’re evaluated, I can’t meet with a counselor, even online, to get an academic plan. Having an academic plan was part of the scholarship application. So … I applied for the scholarship, but, as I said, I doubted that I’d qualify.

In for a penny, in for a pound, though. I also updated my main website to reflect this change in occupation, from advertising to archaeology, and even created a new archaeology-focused CV.

A few days later, I got a call from the president of the local CRM (cultural resource management) company that funds the scholarship, asking if I’d be interested in joining their on-call roster of archaeological field technicians! He had read my scholarship application/essay, visited my just-updated website, and seen my archaeology CV. Of course I said yes! Dropped everything, and drove straight over to meet with him. I filled out some HR paperwork and tax forms, and just like that, on March 11, 2021 I became an on-call archaeological field technician.

A few days later, I was out in the field helping with a survey on a property with rows of buildings in various states of repair and disrepair. My piece of the project was to maintain the photo log, but the entire experience was fascinating and fun. I was also given a stack of instructions from the California Office of Historic Preservation for all the required forms that are part of the job in CRM archaeology.

a pipeline trench
My first site monitoring, the replacement of a short section of pipeline.

Then, I got word that I’d won the scholarship! I can now say that I’m the recipient of the Dr. Susan M. Hector Scholarship in Archaeology. It is an honor that I was working toward, but didn’t think I’d earn so soon.

A few days later, I was out on another site, helping monitor a construction project. Mostly I was shadowing an experienced archaeologist as she showed me how to navigate and fill out the main electronic form, including taking and logging photos and writing descriptions. Then, just the other day, I was out in the field again, surveying, which just about makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world, to be getting paid to go out and take a hike!

The learning curve has been steep but very interesting. In just a few months, my mid-life reinvention has accelerated far beyond my hopes! It now looks like I’ll be employed as an on-call archaeological field tech through the summer, which is the busy time for CRM. And, I’m optimistic that the Field Excavation class will be offered in the fall, with Artifact Analysis in the spring. That puts me on track to graduate with my AA in Anthropology and Certificate in Archaeology next June, in time for summer 2022 jobs!

And, in the meantime, I am an on-call archaeological field technician, working in cultural resource management, which was exactly what I’d aimed for!

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