ANTH Alum and world traveler lands at the World Bank

Lauren Johnson (ANTH ’08) explains a training method to colleagues at the World Bank

What have you been doing since you graduated? 
After graduation in May 2008 I moved to Rome, Italy that August for 4 months.  During that time I attended an Italian language school and held an internship in a Roman Contemporary Art Gallery.  That following February of 2009 I moved to Prague, Czech Republic for 1 month where I received my TEFL Certificate (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and taught English to many International students of all ages.  That March of 2009 I moved back to Rome, Italy and began teaching English to children and adults through various language schools and through an English program with Loyola University (Loyola in Chicago has a campus in Rome with an English language program for Italians).  On the side I also worked at a local Roman bar/restaurant to keep up with the Italian language.  In January 2010 I began working on my graduate degree at St. John’s University at their Rome campus.  In September 2011 I graduated with a Masters in International Relations and a certificate in International Law.  October 2011 I moved back to the states to prepare for my new job which I began that November in Washington DC.  I was hired as a government contractor with URS Corporation as a Homeland Security Emergency Management Planner.  I worked as a consultant on a project at the World Bank for Business Continuity.  In November of 2012 I was hired directly by the World Bank as a Business Continuity Analyst where I currently am working today in DC.

What is your current position?
My current position is Business Continuity Analyst at the World Bank.  Daily I work with the different departments within the Bank and assist with creating/developing Emergency Management Plans for each of their critical business activities.

What advice would you offer to new students at the College of Charleston who are thinking of declaring a major in Anthropology?
Studying Anthropology will offer you a variety of opportunities.  It expands your way of thinking, analyzing, and helps develop strong observation skills which are useful and important in any career you may choose, so when considering the degree, do not think it will limit you to only 1 career path.

What advice would you offer to students graduating from the College of Charleston with a degree in Anthropology? 
I would advise that they take advantage of everything they learned with the degree.  There are so many possibilities of jobs and careers where the degree can be useful.  Working with International Organizations and traveling gives an opportunity to study and work with other cultures on a daily basis.  I would really recommend that they look into every possibility presented to them, even if it is outside of the Anthropological field.

How has your experience in Anthropology at the College of Charleston helped you in your career?
Studying Anthropology shaped my future in every way.  Studying people and their cultures encouraged me to go and experience it on my own. I studied abroad in Rome, Italy for my whole junior year because I wanted to immerse myself in the Italian culture.  Which then led me to move back for 3 more years after graduating.  Working at the World Bank, I work with a majority of individuals from all over the world and with only a handful of Americans.  I feel that Anthropology has given me an advantage of being able to adapt to the cultural differences that I face everyday and has taught me how to be open to people and their cultural traditions even in working environments.

What unexpected benefits have you derived from a degree in Anthropology?
I would have to say my observation and analytical skills are highly welcomed benefits I derived from the degree.  I knew studying it would expand my knowledge and ways of thinking about other cultures but I didn’t expect to develop these very important skills I use everyday at work.  Colleagues are always commenting on how detail oriented and observant I am and how I manage to put together and make sense of certain documents by only reading/knowing so little about the material.  I joke and say if you studied Anthropology for 4 years and had to make sense of an ethnography written in the ’40s you’d be able to do it too!

What class did you most enjoy while earning your degree at the College of Charleston?
I enjoyed the  majority of my degree classes but specifically I was very interested in Underwater Archaeology and Geology.  I’ve always been interested in marine life from growing up near the water so being able to combine that with Archaeology quickly became an exciting interest to me.  I ended up getting my scuba license at the same time so I could dive and see underwater wrecks for myself.  It is fascinating to me how time seems to stand still when you come across an abandoned ship wreck and find artifacts that belonged to someone.  You can learn so much about a person when you find materials that were important enough to bring along on a long journey.  In Geology I would say I enjoyed learning about the marine life but being able to travel out to Folly and see everything firsthand, plus who wouldn’t enjoy attending a class on the beach?!

What class was the most applicable to your everyday life now that you’ve graduated? 
I would say the classes that have prepared me the most were my theory class, cultural anthropology and my archaeology class.  Theory forced me to think and interpret studies of various Anthropologists and ethnographers and to understand their point of views.  It wasn’t always easy like reading a Dr. Seuss book! Sometimes I wished I could just shout to the author and ask what are they trying to explain?! But from that class I developed some of my interpretation and analytical skills which I am very happy to have.     

What made you choose the College of Charleston over other schools?
College of Charleston was perfect in every way for me.  I grew up on the beach and knew I did not want to move far from the water.  Having the College be only minutes from multiple and beautiful beaches while being in the middle of a charming historic city where you can walk around the campus and the downtown area was a perfect combination.  Besides the location I really liked the size of the school and its classes (once you were more into your specific field of study) The classes were not too big, they were just the right size where you could still learn and have a closer relationship with each professor which is important when you are studying a degree that is important for your future. They are/were there to help you and provide support during your college career which is not always easy to have with larger schools.

How has an Anthropology degree made you a more well-rounded person?
Studying Anthropolgy has taught me how to be open to people, cultures and all of the differences from my own.  I have learned how to adapt in social and working environments which has allowed me to communicate and learn things with/from others.  It has taught me that people and countries all over the world do things in ways which to them are normal traditions and by learning to understand that you can achieve so much more when interacting with them and other people.  And while learning this in school it inspired me to go out and live abroad on my own which definitely helped shape the person I am today.

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