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Please help me find a sociology career.
June 25, 2011 8:53 AM   Subscribe

It's really time to get a career. Help me use my 3.2gpa sociology BA from a not good state school. Ideally would love a company that will assist me in getting an MA in Sociology. Read on for more of my interests and situation.

I'm really interested in gender issues, foodways, public speaking, and survey design. I love nature, actively camping, canoeing and playing in dirt.

Working in a way that supports reproductive rights, food access, or gets people to enjoy nature responsibly would be great.

I need to move on from my current under-employed situation. While I'm doing that, I also need to get some control over my life and my path. I'm willing/able to move and I'm flexible about my work as long as it's leading toward doing actual sociology or outreach. Prefer warmer climate, or jobs that require international travel. I'm a US Citizen. Maine is not going to cut it for me, but I might consider the Mid-Atlantic, West Coast, or warm-ish places.

Not interested in becoming a lawyer or doctor and probably not a therapist. I have ADD inattentive type, which I'm trying to appreciate as an asset. Need to develop better coping skills for some aspects of it.

Email to followup: sociologyjob via g mail dot youknowthedrill.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
As a sociology grad myself, I can say that marketing yourself as a sociologist is really, really hard, because no one has the vaguest damn idea what that really means. So when you start taking your resume around and whatnot, yes, put "BA Sociology" on there, but really break it down for them and focus on what strengths that gives you. You can do survey research and design. Can you do applied statistics? If so, make sure you put which programs you're competent at using. Do you study organizational culture, or group interactions? Great! It's been my experience that saying I'm a sociologist won't interest anybody, but that saying I'm experienced at survey design and administration, that I have tutored people in statistics and can use SPSS, and that I've got extensive public speaking experience will turn a few heads.

Also, if you're looking to go to graduate school and would like some work experience that will help you make up for your not-so-stellar undergrad, you might want to look into the Peace Corps, Teach for America or being an Americorps VISTA. (Full disclosure: I myself am a VISTA at my old undergrad institution right now, because when someone says, 'Would you like to develop service learning programs?' I have trouble saying no.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:04 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Normally I'd say "major doesn't mean anything."

But, do you have a lot of methodological training in survey design and analysis? Were you a research assistant as an undergrad?

If so, and you're REALLY sure that you want to do survey research, I'd suggest that you revamp your resume so that it is really obvious that you know how to do it -- with explicit examples of surveys that you've been intimately involved with and references that can attest that you were intimately involved.

Then apply for positions that are for survey researchers or researchers or "evaluation"/"evaluators" generally. Some non-profits have people that do this but mostly these are organizations that do this sort of work FOR non-profits or other people. There is also the world of "market research" firms -- working for one of them will get you a lot of experience in survey design and analysis too.

You probably won't have a lot of control over what you're researching, especially at this stage, but at least you'd get some experience so that later on you can have more choice.

And although I'm normally in the "terminal MAs aren't a good idea" camp, an MA in survey methodology would likely be very helpful in your pursuit, especially if you didn't get intimately involved in a research project as an undergrad.

FWIW, I am a professional survey methodologist that came into the survey world from academia.
posted by k8t at 9:08 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sociology professor here.

You're very unlikely to be doing "actual sociology" with just a BA when there are thousands of MA/MS sociology grads who are looking for the same thing you're looking for.

You mention your GPA but not your GRE scores. TAKE THE GRE and if you can ace it, you can get into a master's program somewhere. Do that.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:23 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


you can get into a master's program somewhere. Do that

Why?

when there are thousands of MA/MS sociology grads who are looking for the same thing you're looking for

This is called "throwing good money after bad."

Start looking for jobs where you can get some white collar experience. Reconsider your educational options in a few years, no sooner than 3 years.
posted by rr at 11:02 AM on June 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Research or PR for a nonprofit. You will really have to hustle. Come up with really concrete examples of things you've learned to do - not concepts you know. I was in a similar position - BS in Sociology from a state school, 3.5 GPA - and the #1 interview question was "so... what do you want to DO with your degree?" Figure this out before you go into an interview. Make shit up. Fake it til you make it.

I ended up in the marketing department of a Big Shot Law Firm, which wasn't really what I wanted to do, despite being good experience. After a couple years of that, I got my Master's in Urban Planning, which has proved to be only slightly less useless due to the slashing of state and local budgets. I'm in project management now, and while it's not what I was aiming for, it actually does use some of the skills I learned.

I don't know why you would get your MA or MS in Sociology unless you're going into academia, and there are 10 million articles telling you NOT to go that route.

tl;dr Learn some practical shit and talk it up in interviews. No one who is going to hire you cares about sociological theory.
posted by desjardins at 12:30 PM on June 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is called "throwing good money after bad."

No. You're talking nonsense. You can't get a job as a "sociologist" with a dime a dozen BA in sociology at a crap school with a crap GPA. OP needs an MA or it's doing clerical work for the rest of his/her life.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:27 PM on June 25, 2011


I don't know why you would get your MA or MS in Sociology unless you're going into academia, and there are 10 million articles telling you NOT to go that route.

Complete bull. Do not listen to this person. People who get the MA in soci don't, and this is on the order of more than 90% (I know, I'm a soci prof and have served many years on our grad studies committee) do NOT go into academia. They don't go on to get a PhD. They DO go into EXACTLY the sorts of jobs you're looking for.

GET A MASTERS. It is the ONLY way you're going to get a job "as a sociologist." A BA in soci is not going to get you anywhere.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:30 PM on June 25, 2011


I don't know many undergrads that know what it means to "be a sociologist."
posted by k8t at 8:43 PM on June 25, 2011


figure out what kinds of jobs hire people with sociology degrees and with any kind of degree, then apply to all the jobs that you think you may like doing.
posted by mikesrex at 8:56 PM on June 25, 2011


"OP needs an MA or it's doing clerical work for the rest of his/her life."

This is horrible advice unless you can get fully funded. Which means if you apply to grad. school, apply to PhD programs that offer teaching stipends. But then the rub -- you don't sound like a promising PhD candidate. And properly applying to grad. programs is pretty much a second job. And if you get accepted into a program where they expect you to pay tuition, don't do it unless you have rich parents who are willing to support you. Do not go into debt for an advanced humanities degree. Odds are you'll be paying it off for a few decades or so.

Here's what I'd do -- focus on your office skills or better yet, learn some IT skills. Market yourself as a reliable entry level office worker and apply for jobs at companies and/or non-profits that interest you. Then climb the ladder.

Are you a decent typist? Go to your local temp. agency and look for office work.
posted by bardic at 11:41 PM on June 25, 2011


No. You're talking nonsense. You can't get a job as a "sociologist" with a dime a dozen BA in sociology at a crap school with a crap GPA. OP needs an MA or it's doing clerical work for the rest of his/her life.

You are pretending that such jobs are even available and not oversubscribed 5:1.
posted by rr at 12:17 PM on June 26, 2011


Since you say you're interested in foodways, public speaking, and survey design, consider related fields.

There's market research and category management work in the food and CPG (consumer packaged goods) business.

NPD Group is an example of a company that does market research across many industries.

Then there are companies that provide data and analysis to other businesses. Spins is a company that focuses on natural foods. Symphony IRI and Nielsen work on CPG more broadly. CPG Joblist has a board for jobs across CPG.

Maybe the produce business might interest you. You might also look into produce and commodity marketing orders - those are California's, here are federal ones.

None of this is exactly sociology, admittedly, but there are many ways here to do work that relates to what you've learned in your major.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:14 PM on June 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


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