There are many reasons to major in sociology. The primary reasons are intellectual (intriguing course content and skill development) and practical (many diverse potential career options). A major in sociology should appeal to both the careerist and the idealist.
On the intellectual side, and most importantly, sociology is about understanding "the big picture." Sociologists try to understand both broad and narrow social phenomena, issues and problems, and in doing so, they integrate the findings of other social science disciplines. Sociology integrates the findings of economics, political science, psychology and history. Rather than viewing our world only through one lens, sociologists view the world though lenses that combine these diverse perspectives. In addition, in sociology one can study many of the substantive topics that the others social sciences examine. Thus, the fields of ethnic studies, gender and cultural studies build on important sociological traditions and findings.
In sociology, you can:
Sociology, then, provides a global perspective and rich picture of how the social world works. Courses cover a wide range of material, and teach analytical skills and flexibility of mind to allow you to see your world in new ways. By itself, it is a broad major for the intellectually curious, and works well as a double major with other more narrow degree programs.
What can you do with a BA in Sociology from UCSD? Sociology provides a broad liberal arts base from which to explore a world of job opportunities. Depending on what kinds of courses you concentrate on, you can use sociology to develop some expertise, or a taste for, some kinds of occupations or the social world where they are located.
Many recently graduated UCSD sociology majors have gone on to law school, medical school, or to pursue a graduate degree in business. For more information regarding what Sociology majors do with their degree, check out the information provided by the American Sociological Association.
With a degree in Sociology, the opportunities are endless...
You Can Run the World, or Help Change it!
If you're like most students, you're probably wondering about the type of employment sociology majors can expect after graduation. You enjoy the major and the course of study, but will it get you a job? Rest assured, there is life after sociology at UCSD for sociology majors. In fact, you may be surprised to find that your broad liberal arts education gives you a wide range of career options. One of the virtues of a major in sociology is flexibility in the job market. Actual entry-level job titles of UCSD sociology graduates show this diversity; operations planner for a defense firm, program assistant for a social service agency, teacher, programmer, production coordinator for a publishing firm, social worker for a large, local health agency, communications technician for a telecommunications company, sales representative, analyst, and health intake counselor. Check the UCSD Career Services web page for more information.
Now that you know that opportunities exist, how do you proceed with your own career search? Remember three crucial pieces of advice that will enhance your chances of finding meaningful employment after graduation. First, decide what you want to do. A clear career goal is the essential first step of any career search. It doesn't have to be a lifetime goal, just a plan of action for now. The Career Services Center has many services available to help you identify an occupation you'd like to pursue. There are workshops and information sessions focusing on specific occupational areas, computerized career guidance programs, printed resources on various occupations, videotapes, and helpful advisers who can assist you in putting all the information together.
Occupations of alumni who have been in the work force for a few years will reveal even more opportunities. Some examples are: magazine editor, contract and grants administrator, attorney, personnel manager, probation officer, career counselor, marketing director, information specialist, district attorney, and political consultant. You can speak to these alumni about their jobs and how they applied their sociology education to their career. Check the Career Explorations section of the Career Services Center's home page.
Second, get practical, work-related experience. For students who enter the job market, studies have shown that part-time practical experience is a significant factor of their college years that helped them to achieve success. Graduates who had such experience consistently show a lower unemployment rate, higher salaries, and better career potential for their jobs than those without it. Even if you decide to go on to graduate or professional school, admissions committees for advanced degrees favor candidates with such experience. In addition, practical experience can help you decide what you might like to do in the work force. By testing an occupation before committing to a full-time career, you can see if it suits you.
There are many ways you can find pre-professional employment while going to school. The Career Services Center lists on- and off-campus part-time and temporary jobs as well as paid internships and co-op positions. Other offices on campus, specifically the Academic Internship Program in the literature building, list internships as mentioned previously in this handbook. If you have ideas for developing your own internship and need assistance approaching an employer, you can discuss them with a career adviser.
Third, as you begin your job search it is important to remember that not all methods work equally well for all types of positions. For example, most recent UCSD alumni surveys show that while engineering students can best spend their job search time utilizing Career Services' job listings, attending job fairs, and participating in on-campus interviews, sociology majors and other liberal arts graduates should plan to utilize other strategies depending on their job goals. Those seeking human services-related jobs would be better served using networking and previous experience with related employers in addition to Career Services' job listings to increase their odds of a successful outcome. For more information on which strategies work best for your field of interest, check out the Career Services Center which is there to help, wherever you are in the search process. Even if you reach your senior year and haven't followed the conventional wisdom described here, it's not too late. Custom-made programs for last-minute job seekers prepare seniors, and even graduates, for employment.