Accepted paper:

Ethnography of corporate life


Magdalena Dabkowska (Deutsche Bank)

Paper short abstract:

This paper outlines career path of an anthropology graduate who found employment outside of academia. Firstly it will discuss the challenges of looking for a job, and secondly, provide insight into corporate life and how it is experienced by an anthropologist.

Paper long abstract:

The ethnography spans across ten years starting in September 2008 and the collapse of the investment bank Lehman Brothers. The events which followed had an immense effect on the job market, in particular on candidates with little work experience. The aim for many was to find any job possible, and very few had the luxury of choosing between offers. However, in this depressing climate it was possible to embark on a career path that involved working in three different sectors (travel, legal and banking) in countries as different as Switzerland and Kazakhstan. It must be stressed that it came at a huge cost which involved many hours spent looking for suitable openings, sending applications and accepting rejections. It was far from an easy journey which is, moreover, not finished yet. As a result, however, an invaluable first-hand insight was gained into the job market. Ten years later this process can surely be called an ethnography, as it involved many interviews, participant observation while learning new jobs, and endless analysis of the results, which determined the next steps to be taken. This paper thus would like to share the main observations from the 10-year journey, and offer advice and support to those who need it, while they are continuing their journey. It will also provide information about personal experiences of an anthropology graduate working in a corporate environment.

panel P002
The mobility of applied anthropologists: in and out of fields and between jobs [Applied Anthropology Network]