When Wayne State alumna Dianna Jakubiec first decided to trade her unpredictable life of contract work for the more stable position at the U.S. Army Department of Defense at TACOM, she believed that would be the end of her career in the field she loved: anthropology. Instead, Jakubiec uses her background in anthropology to shake up her research and produce more thought-provoking results.
From childhood, Jakubiec knew she wanted to work in anthropology.
“I was fascinated with people from other places. I love to travel and experience cultures firsthand,” she said, “The only doubts I had was about employment.”
After to graduation, Jakubiec took on several jobs. She worked as a field archaeology position, where she worked on several projects in Missouri and Illinois. When those ended, she took a job as an archaeology lab technician in Tucson, Arizona where she processed artifacts from a historical excavation.
“Once that job ended after nine months, I decided it was too difficult going from one job to the next, without secure employment,” she said. “Most jobs are contract jobs and end ahead of schedule or can be extended. The unknown factors with each job made for a chaotic life.”
It was then that Jakubiec decided to accept a permanent position at TACOM, where she now works as a logistic specialist manager.
“I was taking a big chance in limiting any more opportunities to pursue anthropology and archaeology. I knew this path would change my life.”
Jakubiec believed anthropology would no longer have a role in her life, but the words of a professor stuck with her: “With anthropology, you have to develop your own niche in the working world. Anthropology is such a wide open field, the possibilities to apply the methods and skills are really endless.”
Currently, Jakubiec is conducting an Army-wide research project on field injuries during training exercises and is tasked with conducting surveys and focus group projects. With this research, Jakubiec has been able to utilize what she calls the “anthropological lens.”
“I add a certain flavor to it that is absent in most projects like this. I am looking at it holistically. Although quantifying the statistical data is necessary, I want to find out the cultural reasoning behind the data—the ‘why’ of the behavior. This aspect is never considered in projects like this and I think will offer thought-provoking results.”
Jakubiec has successfully been able to apply her degree in anthropology to her current field. She believes that the skills obtained through anthropology courses are applicable in any line of work.
“My degree has taught me to think holistically, to observe and interact with human behaviors. I believe those skills have allowed me to progress in my career.” She adds, “Even a minor in anthropology can prove to be very helpful in our multi-cultural society and ever-shrinking world.”
In addition to working at TACOM, Jakubiec teaches the introductory anthropology course at Macomb Community College. She advises students to follow their passions no matter what. Additionally, she emphasizes the importance of having practical experience in your field.
“Join a field school in the summer, work or volunteer in a lab during the school year. Participate on a research project, work with a professor, anything to get practical experience. The more practical experience you have, the better.”
As for her love of travel, Jakubiec was able to fulfill that desire by combining it with her love of volunteer work by working with Habitat for Humanity Detroit.
“Two years ago, I helped rehab apartments in Gliwice, Poland and next June I am going to Zambia with Habitat Great Britain. It’s always a wonderful cultural experience. I plan to travel with Habitat at least every other year while volunteering in Detroit too.”
These experiences have given Jakubiec the opportunity to pursue her passion for photography as well. She hopes to work on photo or essay book depicting Habitat homes and the places she has traveled. She is currently working on a book dedicated to her time spent in the Yucatan.
“I followed my heart and my passion. I knew if I stayed true to that philosophy, it would work out in the end.”