How to get a Job with a Major/Minor in Sociology, Criminology, or Anthropology
Let's first correct some misconceptions:
1. All you need to get a good job is to finish your degree
The reality is that a college degree is just one of many things you need to get a job. While it may be necessary to be considered, it is rarely sufficient to get hired. Your work ethic, other skills, interests, abilities and motivation are all important. Your hobbies, interests, and work history as well as participation in student organizations, and volunteer activites are indicators of your abilities - if these are thin or nonexistent, you are at a big disadvantage. Also your self-presentation, if you appear to be sloppy and lack a professional manner, you probably won't get the job.
2. You should wait until after you finish a degree before starting a job search
The reality is the most people need 6-9 months to land a job, and the smart students start the search process months to a semester before they graduate. Be pro-active and do not wait!
3. Look in job ads or the newspaper to find a job opening
90% of people get their jobs in ways other than job ads. Most job openings are not widely advertised. The most effective way is through personal recommendations. Your entire social network - all the people you know, including friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. is your most important resource. People who build a large, diverse social network have the best chances of finding out about job openings.
4. You get a job based on specific courses you have taken
With a few exceptions, specific courses you took are not as important as the breadth and depth of your knowledge base. If your record looks as if you always appear to avoid difficult courses or have a lot of Withdraws or low grades, a prospective employer will see someone who does not follow through with a difficult task. Taking difficult courses and succeeding, on the other hand, shows employers someone who does not avoid hard/difficult work and is willing to get serious and really apply him/herself.
5. Employers only want someone with a very specific major/degree for a specific job
Sometimes. With a few exceptions, employers are less interested in whether you completed a specific course than what you know and can do. Completing a course is not always an indicator that you really know something or are a capable, responsible person with the ability to communicate, work with others, and get things done effectively and efficiently. Taking "hard" courses that really push you, and being able to talk about them, is what helps. Classes or majors/minors that are not common can be a way to demonstrative initiative, creativity, and motivation.
6. No one cares about your GPA once you graduate or your arrest record
Yes and no. After you get a job and gain experience, few people care about your college GPA but employers use the reputation of a school and GPA to screen out/in potential hires. A high GPA is more of a signal that someone is bright, organized and hard-working. However, a high GPA with nothing else can be negative -indicating someone who only studies and has no out-of-class knowledge or skills. A very low GPA can really hurt a job candidate - employers may use it as a signal indicating laziness, disorganization, poor motivation, a lack of attention to detail or ability to follow instruction, or substance abuse issues. These are very negative and suggest someone employers would not want to hire. Many jobs require a clean criminal record and you may be barred from certain occupations, without recourse, if you have a criminal record, especially a felony conviction. You just need to realize your job opportunities will be restricted.
7. References from teachers are not necessary
Employers often ask for references, and if you just sat in the back of a classroom and never did anything to get to know a teacher, you may find yourself at a disadvantage. If all a teacher can do is look at a gradebook and say, this student got a B but I don't know anything else about him/her, it is not going to help. The more details about a student the teacher can provide, especially positive details about class work and personal habits, the better.
Things to do now to help you get a good job, one that starts a real career
PREPARE A PROFESSIONAL RESUME. Crate one that outlines your abilities and experiences. It is never too soon to prepare a resume, and you should update it regularly.
REFINE YOUR INTERVIEWING SKILLS, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. How you present yourself, you dress, appearance, way of speaking, making eye-contact, etc. as well as your answers often determine whether you or someone else gets the job.
EXPAND YOUR SKILL SET AND BREATH OF EXPERIENCES BEYOND THE CLASSROOM. You should volunteer, participate and get involved in clubs, community organizations and related local activities. This builds skills and develops experiences to put on a resume and discuss in an interview.
GET EXPERIENCE. Most employers look for someone with experience, which is problematic. Until you get the job, how can you get experience? You can get experience by volunteering, through an internship, or by working, even part-time in a related job.
EXPAND AND ENRICH A DIVERSE SOCIAL NETWORK OF CONTACTS. Include people who are different from you now, and more people with the type of occupation or interest you are interested in moving toward.
ATTEND CAREER FAIRS, JOB FAIRS AND THE DEPARTMENT CAREER NIGHT. (October). To learn more about how others got jobs and to make contacts.
ENROLL IN A 1 CREDIT COURSE ON GETTING A JOB. LSINDP 399 CAREER INFORMATION IN LETTERS & SCIENCES. It includes the following:
- Job hunting
- Planning for Graduate School
- Writing Resumes & Cover Letters
- Insider's Guide to interviewing
- Resources On & Off Campus to Help
USE THE UW-W CAREER SERVICES OFFICE. UW-Whitewater offers a range of services to help students find jobs including interviewing help and job search strategies. First check their web page http://www.uww.edu/career/students/find-job.php You will want to talk with Jason Brown, Career Counselor, (262) 472-1514
RESEARCH THE INTERNET. Many web sites list careers for people with Sociology majors, here is one: http://sociology.ucsc.edu/undergraduate/advising/Careers in Sociology.pdf
- The national sociological organization also has lots of information, such as their publication "What are they doing with a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology?" http://www.asanet.org/research/BachelorsinSociology.pdf
- And other information: http://www.asanet.org/employment/factsoncareers.cfm
READ A BOOK OR TWO ON CAREERS. The department used to have a copy (or two) of two books but students borrowed them and never returned them. The books are:Great Jobs for Sociology Majorsby Stephen Lambert, and Careers in Sociology(3rd Edition) W. Richard Stephens Jr.