This has been one of the most challenging and rewarding years of my entire life. Even though I have an anthropology background, I'm amazed at how it can translate to so many other areas of research. One minute you're digging in the dirt, and the next, you're lecturing to a class of second language learners who eat and drink their new language.
Over the past few months I've spoken with many hopeful archaeologists and anthropologists students hoping to break into the field after college. In my case, I headed out of the dirt and into the classroom, and I haven't looked back, but for some you, teaching isn't an option. There nothing wrong with that. Just don't allow someone, a mentor, parent, or even another professor, to steer you down a path that you can't envision on your own.
This reminds me of that line in Indiana Jones when Harrison Ford says, "You can't be a good archaeologists unless you get out of the library". In this case, it's the classroom, yet every archaeologist teaching classes will say the same thing. It's great going out there and getting your hands dirty, but when it comes to cleaning up, i.e. reports and archiving, it's a plain drag.
This doesn't mean you have to spend your life with dirt under your fingernails hoping you never have to complete those reports yourself. It also doesn't mean that you can't still enjoy the feel of ancient dirt around your toes as you brush away the grains of sand from a ceramic.
The outlook is nowhere near as grim as people believe, because in order to really understand history, you have to teach it to others. This doesn't always mean lecturing. How many of you have visited a local museum and read the information plaque? How many hands up? Now how many of you said to yourself, "I never knew that"? This means you learned something, and why? Someone back in the dark trenches of the museum wrote those words for you after researching the topic in the field for years. It's just their way of communicating to you.
Look outside yourself and be creative, because our field is in dier need of innovation and creativity. The next archaeological genious could be you!