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BA in Sociology - realistic prospects? - Page 2

post #16 of 36
If you get into a really top tiered school, and the economy improves, you should be able to find any job. If not, well your degree doesn't have too many jobs atm. It's mostly go into another field, or if you want to continue, you'd need a doctorate. At least that's my perception, my best friend is persuing a doctorate in sociology atm at UNC.
post #17 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by XenoX101 View Post
Interesting, but wouldn't my success in getting internships depend on my education and thus my major? I mean if work experience was all that mattered then what distinction would employers make among interns in order to pick the right one?
Of course -- you will need to talk (or write) your way into your first job. You'll leverage everything you have. If you took a specific course that you can say prepares you for this entry level job better than, say, that Art major or that English major, maybe that will work. But once you start working it's going to be what work have you done lately. If you are three years out of school and have had a string of part-time jobs with various duties, you probably will have better information about yourself to leverage than "I took Dynamics of Dysfunctional Families four years ago." The BA education is general and built to last a lifetime. The potential edge individual courses might give you as you talk yourself into employment, at 22, into entry-level jobs, is not that great and then fleeting. All kinds of chemistry majors rise to head the sales department in chemical companies etc. People go where their skills take them, and you will be developing skills your whole life. The BA is not going to give you the work skills of anyone with more than a few years in the professional workforce.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rambo View Post
You can be involved in anything you want. You should get your degree in something that will actually have a chance of landing you a job in the event that you can't get hired in your profession of choice for whatever reason.
Job market in US has been been awful for everyone under 35, generally speaking, since the 1990s. Very few majors have much chance of landing you a job all by themselves. And when they do, the jobs are not permanent cradle-to-grave type jobs. Involvement is your education is important but there are only a few degrees that offer much chance of placing a student immediately, and he is talking about Sociology, so it's hard to recommend polymer engineering, elementary education, computer science, etc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Milpool View Post
I would suggest a double major perhaps. Get one degree in a major that is an actual job title, e.g. civil engineering or architecture (since you mentioned city planning), and the other in sociology. It is a hedge and at least allows you the option of a different career should you have trouble finding your ideal position. The other thing I would suggest is to maybe focus on epidemiology or community health, etc. You can make a big difference that way, and if you focus on geriatrics in some way, you'll probably be guaranteed a job at least in the US with the baby boomers all retiring soon. As for the internships, having a solid skill that is in demand will really help you get the internship. When I was an undergrad, I snatched a few internships because I could write code. The positions had nothing to do with software, but they wanted custom databases and stuff and I was able to provide that.
This is good advice. You will learn to leverage whatever skills you have as you peddle yourself on the job market. Double majors might make good talking points, but I still think the best thing you can have is work experience elsewhere in a comparable job -- with glowing recommendations, evident mastery of the jargon, personal and professional relationships with people in various related organizations, etc. Work is what will get you better work. In most cases the degree is necessary to start work but once you start, it's what you've done in the workforce lately that matters most.
Quote:
Originally Posted by harvey_birdman View Post
You have another year of high school yet. You're going to change your mind a dozen times between now and age 20. And honestly you probably shouldn't go to college, and certainly not for a degree as worthless as sociology. It's a scam and you'll come out owing a boatload of money working as a probation officer for $28k a year with huge student loans that you'll never be able to pay back. Go to trade school to be a plumber. If you want to help people there is no better occupation to really help desperate people.
Everyone should have a friend or uncle urging the career of a plumber. Also farming: more people should encourage high school students to skip college and go straight into farming.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valor View Post
If you get into a really top tiered school, and the economy improves, you should be able to find any job. If not, well your degree doesn't have too many jobs atm. It's mostly go into another field, or if you want to continue, you'd need a doctorate. At least that's my perception, my best friend is persuing a doctorate in sociology atm at UNC.
I think it's true that where you get your degree will matter to employers as much as what you majored in (provided, again, it's not one of the few very specialized BAs like organic chemistry or computer science). Also don't underestimate the value of a degree from a large public school that graduates tons of people. People are proud. A humanities or social sciences degree from UNC might be a better asset on Chapel Hill applications than the same degree from some distant elite school.
post #18 of 36
Can I hear more about global justice?
post #19 of 36
Thread Starter 
Dewey, you make a fair point, though the problem I see with this approach is that I may not end up where I want to as the direction I take would seem dependant entirely on my luck with employers, admittedly this is bound to happen anyway but if I opt for a degree purely for its employability then wouldn't it be much harder to ultimately find myself in a position I want to be in?. I think I would need to find some middleground between my choice of education and the employability therein, which I guess is the million dollar question here - how much compromise do I make and where do I make it. I am speculating though, so if I'm wrong here do tell. Piobaire I know you're trying to be smarmy, but according to melbourne uni 'global justice' is to do with international human rights, which is naturally relevant to helping the disadvantaged who lack them. It's part of one of the breadth subjects I was planning on doing at melbourne uni, not part of the degree/major itself but you have to choose a few breadth subjects and I figured it would be useful.
post #20 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by XenoX101 View Post
Piobaire I know you're trying to be smarmy, but according to melbourne uni 'global justice' is to do with international human rights, which is naturally relevant to helping the disadvantaged who lack them. It's part of one of the breadth subjects I was planning on doing at melbourne uni, not part of the degree/major itself but you have to choose a few breadth subjects and I figured it would be useful.

I was shooting more for amused and/or condescending. I failed?
post #21 of 36
I'd say that, while there are definalty possibilities, it is a risk that you have to understand going in. I'd try to have a backup - a trade, a technical skill, something like that. I have a friend who got an excellent BA in something similar, from an excellent school, then went on to get an MA in public policy, and was really struggling to make ends meet, until he became a technical writter.

good luck
post #22 of 36
I don't really have the time to read through all the posts, but it seems like you're getting pretty good feedback.

I have both a BS and an MA in Sociology. I loved my coursework, which was incredibly interesting. That said, there was probably little I could do with only my BS. During my last couple years of undergrad, I thought I wanted to become a professor, to conduct research and teach classes. After enrolling in an MA program, I realized that I wasn't exactly cut out for academia, so I left after my Master's thesis. I made a point to focus on quantitative analysis and statistics, which proved vital to finding work after school. I now conduct market research for a well known university publishing house. I had never considered myself a number person, but being able to apply statistics to social science is strangely fulfilling. The quant skills I learned have proved to be surprisingly lucrative, as I have not had any trouble finding work after school.

That said, there are a couple things to keep in mind. While the subject matter is interesting, keep your mind on finding a job after school. Take as many internships as possible and find a career which works best for you. This will help you find something you love to do, but will be helpful when applying to jobs, as well. Don't fool yourself thinking that since this is a "soft" social science, it is very much a scientific field. Know this from the beginning and you will be a leg ahead of the game.
post #23 of 36
for a new college graduate, the major is not that important. you need to either: a. demonstrate that you know how to "do something" ie engineer something, program something, build something, finance-eer something or b. demonstrate that you are smart in general In order to demonstrate A., you need to take some coursework in those subjects and/or show proficiency in them via personal projects or internships In order to demonstrate B., you need a high GPA, go to a good school, or have good internships. Look at top level corporate VPs in Finance, Marketing, Management, etc. A huge chunk of these professionals were liberal arts majors, but demonstrated intelligence or ability in other ways. The only scenario when a BA in sociology is 100% useless is if you never have an internship, take no other classes, have a shitty GPA, and go to a no name school. At this bottom-feeder level, an engineering degree might make more sense.
post #24 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AntiHero84 View Post
I don't really have the time to read through all the posts, but it seems like you're getting pretty good feedback. I have both a BS and an MA in Sociology. I loved my coursework, which was incredibly interesting. That said, there was probably little I could do with only my BS. During my last couple years of undergrad, I thought I wanted to become a professor, to conduct research and teach classes. After enrolling in an MA program, I realized that I wasn't exactly cut out for academia, so I left after my Master's thesis. I made a point to focus on quantitative analysis and statistics, which proved vital to finding work after school. I now conduct market research for a well known university publishing house. I had never considered myself a number person, but being able to apply statistics to social science is strangely fulfilling. The quant skills I learned have proved to be surprisingly lucrative, as I have not had any trouble finding work after school. That said, there are a couple things to keep in mind. While the subject matter is interesting, keep your mind on finding a job after school. Take as many internships as possible and find a career which works best for you. This will help you find something you love to do, but will be helpful when applying to jobs, as well. Don't fool yourself thinking that since this is a "soft" social science, it is very much a scientific field. Know this from the beginning and you will be a leg ahead of the game.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pebblegrain View Post
for a new college graduate, the major is not that important. you need to either: a. demonstrate that you know how to "do something" ie engineer something, program something, build something, finance-eer something or b. demonstrate that you are smart in general In order to demonstrate A., you need to take some coursework in those subjects and/or show proficiency in them via personal projects or internships In order to demonstrate B., you need a high GPA, go to a good school, or have good internships. Look at top level corporate VPs in Finance, Marketing, Management, etc. A huge chunk of these professionals were liberal arts majors, but demonstrated intelligence or ability in other ways. The only scenario when a BA in sociology is 100% useless is if you never have an internship, take no other classes, have a shitty GPA, and go to a no name school. At this bottom-feeder level, an engineering degree might make more sense.
So I'm definitely getting the vibe that I need to gain some practical skills from my degree that directly translate into a job, noted. I'd like to ask then if anyone might know (and can enlighten me) as to what positions are in demand in my area of interest, or which positions are at least viable to aim for through my sociology degree even if they are not currently in great demand (i.e. future prospects). AntiHero84, do you know if there are any scientific research positions available to do with humanitarian work? I'm thinking that market research for companies is a very big field and would be easier to get in to than research specifically for humanitarian needs; and admittedly for me it is less the skill and more the result that counts, so I may not be comfortable doing market research. pebblegrain, it is good to hear that there might be hope for my sociology degree, but I'm wondering if there are any better alternatives, as I'm getting the impression (from you and others) that it is at least somewhat at risk of being an overly vague and inconsequential major.
post #25 of 36
Xenox, You are in Australia - as am I - and I think that Australian employers tend to look more favourably on "practical" tertiary courses that teach immediately applicable and specific skills. It seems to me - although I could be wrong - that in some countries such as Japan and the US (particularly as the US has quite a strong emphasis on graduate education to gain specific skills), undergrad courses are often less about specific skills and more about learning how to think, how to write and so on - generalist skills that are very usefull and widely applicable but which don't equip you for specific fields. Anyway, there's a whole thesis - or several theses - that could be written about tertiary education patterns so I won't say anymore on that point. In my opinion - and as I said in my previous post, it's been nine years or so since I was involved in international development/overseas development assistance - if you really, genuinely think that you want to aim to work in that field, you should think about getting a degree which will give you some applicable skills. As I noted, there are many options to choose from - tourism and marketing/law/public administration/public health and quite a few others. Have a look at the NGO employment websites that I linked to so as to get an idea as to what they are looking for. Essentially, there are two "streams" in international development. There are the fieldworkers, and the at-home managers. It is entirely possible to spend your entire career working for an NGO involved in foreign aid and to never leave Australia, as you work in accounting for the head office, for example. On the other hand, you could spend time out in the field in Bangladesh, Somalia, Eritrea or any number of direly impoverished regions working in a wide variety of fields - handing out aid, negotiating with local warlords to access their region, setting up supply lines, installing water tanks and purification facilities, training people to operate simple agricultural machinery, running a basic medical clinic, operating a simple school, trying to set up a tourism program, helping to get a micro-credit scheme operating, or any one of a host of other activities. Sure, a relatively general degree can help you to do quite a lot of the above, but I think that you'll find it easier to get a foot in the door if you have skills that you can highlight when telling the organisation why they should hire you. How can you help the desperately disadvantaged? That's what you need to be able to explain to NGOs that might hire you. Anyway, as I noted in my earlier post, you should look at volunteering, travelling overseas on an arranged trip during uni holidays, trying for internships and so on. Depending on your marks and your willingness to go to Canberra, you could look at trying to get some summer work at AusAID: http://www.ausaid.gov.au/recruit/short.cfm You could also try to get a place in the Australian National Internships Program (ANIP): http://anip.anu.edu.au/ If you want some more ideas, or if you have any questions, feel free to send me a PM and I'll do my best to answer any questions that you might have although, as I indicated, my knowledge might be a bit dated.
post #26 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thanks again, admittedly I've still to go through all the links you've provided, but you've been a great help and I'll be doing more research within the next days/weeks. I might just PM you sometime too, as I get a better understanding of things.
post #27 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xenox View Post
AntiHero84, do you know if there are any scientific research positions available to do with humanitarian work? I'm thinking that market research for companies is a very big field and would be easier to get in to than research specifically for humanitarian needs; and admittedly for me it is less the skill and more the result that counts, so I may not be comfortable doing market research.

I hear you. I mean, if I just wanted to do market research I could have majored in Business, Marketing, or Applied Math. Luckily, with my backing on Sociology, it allowed me to work for two non-profits that aren't entirely evil. One was dedicated to Nursing Education (not really a interest of mine, but it was altruistic) another a University Press (a bit closer to my interests, but more business focused), so it really depends on how you pimp out your degree.

There will always be positions for humanitarian work, but it may be a bit more narrow and hard to find something. Even then, you would need some sort of a graduate degree, probably a PhD eventually. With an BA, you'll probably just become a Research Assistant if you're lucky. I'm not trying to persuade you in either direction, but keep in mind that grad school is pretty much mandatory if you want to do research.
post #28 of 36
A sociology degree is almost as marketable as a degree in art history. Seriously. Consider econ or finance. You want to do non-prof or development work? It's all about money!
post #29 of 36
3rd world poverty The reason there are so many poor people in Africa, SE asia, etc. is not because there aren't high paying job prospects for them, its because they all have degrees in sociology.
post #30 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by XenoX101 View Post
This is good to hear, do you know per chance what they majored/minored in and how they rated in their class (average, above average)?

They were all towards the top of their class. Most of the people I knew were all A & B students & of course this was a smaller University. I don't remember what their minors were.

Most I have spoke with also stated that if they wanted to stay in the "Sociology" field they would have to get at least a Masters if not a Doctorate degree to earn a decent living. Most said they would get the Ph.D.

I'm currently 90% done with my Masters, all I need is to complete my Thisis which I've been putting off for about 2 years now . Anyway my master's will be in Sociology so I find the field interesting but I'm lucky that I don't have to rely on my education to pay the bills.
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