Hi there, everyone. Mason here. I’ve pulled down all of the Christmas lights and boxed up the tree so it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get ready for this year’s annual conference. Though I’m hoping you know the particulars by now, just in case, the 2017 Annual SHA Conference (the 50th Anniversary, mind you!) will be this week in Fort Worth, Texas (January 4th-7th, 2017). Head on over to the Omni in downtown Fort Worth this Wednesday and have some fun while you learn a thing or two.

I know I’m a bit late – but not too late – to talk about Roundtable Luncheons. There are nine different lunches between the proceedings on Thursday and Friday. All roundtable luncheons will cost $30. They are scheduled from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Omni Fort Worth Hotel, Stockyards 1. Several of them certainly caught my eye.

On Thursday, January 5th, the first session that resonates with me in particular is the “Jobs in Nautical Archaeology” session. I’m going to confess something: 15 years ago when I graduated from the Nautical Archaeology program at Texas A&M University I truly thought that people would be beating down my door offering me a job. Boy, was I wrong! It’s tough out there and I didn’t know the first thing on where to go, who to talk to, or how to have success in the industry! Benefit from my painfully embarrassing naivete, people! Talk with Paul Johnston of the Smithsonian Institution about the different avenues for careers in nautical archaeology and get a leg up on the competition.

Publishing helps a lot, that’s for sure! Come and attend the “Publishing Opportunities for my Research” roundtable on Thursday or the “SHA Publishing Opportunities for Students” roundtable on Friday to see where your research and your ideas can best get out to your colleagues and the public at large.

Once you’re in the “biz,” communication is one of the most essential tools (if not THE MOST) in your toolbelt. The session, “The Language of Advocacy” looks like a goody. Working in CRM, I am constantly talking with government employees and private companies who are weighing my findings against finite budgets. I’ve done my best in navigating these waters successfully, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way to go about it. This session seems like it could be a great learning opportunity.

Another notable roundtable follows a different track: “Marketing Heritage Tourism: Examples from the San Antonio Mission World Heritage Site and the Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail.” A lot of us archaeologists are advocates for the resources with which we work. Heritage tourism is a relatively new solution to the continued problem of funding archaeological preservation and research. Look into it while you’re having your lunch!

On Friday, the roundtables continue. Much like the session on Thursday, the “Careers in CRM and Academia” is one from which I really would have benefited in my latter days of grad school and early days in the job market. It’s a chance to sit down with professionals who have cultivated a career and learn the ins and outs of an insider. I also have a personal interest in public engagement. I’m looking forward to potentially sitting down with Ms. Sara Ayers-Rigsby to talk about new ideas to grab the public’s attention and keep it. After all, they have the potential to be very strong advocates for the work that you do. Look into “Innovative Approaches to Public Engagement and Archaeology” if you’re hoping to excite and invigorate the general public about your site.

If curation is your thing, by all means, you should sit down with Sara Rivers-Cofield and Leigh Anne Ellison to talk about your concerns over long-term care of artifacts, documents, and general data. With the Center of Digital Antiquity being one of the participants, there’s little doubt that you’ll learn something new regarding curation technology. And last (but not least), there’s “Archaeology of Submerged Landscapes: New Directions for Underwater Research.” This roundtable will give the participant to look at bigger picture topics surrounding underwater research such as historic water level fluctuations and their impacts on human occupation. New and interesting stuff!

Ya’ gotta eat lunch anyway. Why not grab some food and talk shop with some innovators and experts in the industry.