Careers Night

February 28, 2009
Posted by Jay Livingston

The sociology department held its first annual Careers Night on Tuesday. Or maybe semi-annual. Or every month. It depends on student response. Prof. Yasemin Besen organized the evening, which feature two recent MSU grads – Drew Jorgensen and Alis Drumgo. Drew went into the job market after getting her BA; Alis went to graduate school.

It was obvious that they both love what they’re doing. They also had a lot of good advice.

Drew spoke first. Here’s my summary: a BA in sociology doesn’t really prepare you for anything specific, but it’s a great start on many different kinds of jobs.
Sociology gives you two things that are particularly valuable:
  • Knowledge of basic research design and statistics. (It’s surprising how few people out there can do this sort of thing well)
  • A sociological framework for understanding work settings and institutions and the broader forces that shape what’s going on.
Drew works for new private school in New York’s financial district. She started as a kindergarten teacher, but now, she’s in their admissions department. She was able to move up thanks to sociology. The school needed research and data on the kids who were applying and their families. Drew stepped up because she had more experience than anyone there with getting data, organizing it, and analyzing it.

What else is important? Networking and enthusiasm. Employers are looking a person who is passionate about what she does. Tailor your resume to the job. Make it look as though what that employer does is what you are passionate about. Drew has at least two different resumes.

Alis is in graduate school. He’ll get his MA from the Urban and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School (part of Rutgers). He also works for Catholic Charities as a Housing Resource Coordinator, working on issues related to foreclosure, affordable home ownership, and rent control.

Here are some of his suggestions about grad school.
  • Apply to lots of schools, even ones you don’t think you can get into.
  • Take the GREs. If you don’t do well, take a Kaplan course, and take them again.
  • E-mail faculty at a school you are interested in. Explain to them how you are interested in their research and how your research ideas relate to theirs. This might help get you an advocate who can help you during the admissions process.
  • Take the papers you write seriously. You may well have to submit them in a graduate school application. If your professors gave yousuggestions on how to improve your papers, make those changes even if the course is over. A good piece of written work can really help your chances of getting into graduate school.
  • If you’re accepted, negotiate with the school over financial aid. If you’re accepted at more than one school, play them off against each other.
Drew and Alis spoke with students informally after their presentations, and they’ll be glad to answer further questions if you e-mail them.

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