After nearly 30 years in the Australian Defence Force, Glenn van der Kolk decided he was ready for a career change.
He had travelled the world during his military career and been interested in the local population everywhere he went. He was interested in their culture and how they came to “be in place”.
“I was drawn to archaeology because I saw it as a way for me to investigate those interests more formally and more deeply,” Glenn says.
“Archaeology involves the investigation and analysis of human cultural material and I enjoy the aspect of finding that material and drawing conclusions from the subsequent research and analysis.”
He adds: “I also love working outside and there are plenty of opportunities to do that in this profession.”
He’s now coming to the end of his Master of Archaeological Science (Advanced). But before he started his prior degree at ANU, a Bachelor of Archaeological Practice, Glenn was uncertain about how successful he would be at university.
“I was never a good student as a teenager so was unsure whether I would be a successful student at tertiary level,” he admits.
So for the first six months of his degree, he worked and studied full time. Glenn found it challenging, but enjoyable. He left the military.
“My ultimate success as an undergrad could only have been achieved through the support I gained from my family and ANU staff, and by putting most of my uni fees on HECS,” he says.
During his Masters degree, Glenn has conducted detailed analysis of human and faunal remains, ceramics, chemical composition of stone artefacts and prepared samples for radiocarbon dating and isotopic analysis. He’s been part of field schools, and helped excavate sites such as the World War One trenches in the Jerrabomberra Wetlands.
“But the most interesting thing I’ve done is participate as a research assistant for two field seasons in the Torres Strait with [Senior Lecturer] Dr Duncan Wright,” he says.
“The artefact collections from these activities, and the subsequent analysis, forms the basis for my thesis.”
Glenn is scheduled to submit his thesis in late 2018. After that, he’s not sure if he’ll seek work as a consultant, in government or continue on in academia.
“I’m considering everything and leaving as many options open as possible.”