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#1
Old 02-19-2007, 10:38 PM
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What careers can I pursue with a degree in sociology or political science?

I'm posting this on behalf of a friend of mine. She likes sociology and political science but has been discouraged by some people's negative opinion of these majors (IE: you can't make money / there are no jobs). She's a bit upset by this and I have been unable to offer her useful advice as I am not knowledgeable about these majors.

And thus, to you my fellow dopers, I entrust this young girl's dreams and hopes. Treat her well, she's very special to me.

So the questions are:

1-What kind of jobs can one get with a sociology major?
2-What about a polsci major?
3-How is the job market for both fields like?
4-Are there any other majors that are closely related to the abovementionned she should consider?


Thank you for your time,

/Gozulin
#2
Old 02-19-2007, 10:48 PM
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Bartending and waitstaff?
#3
Old 02-19-2007, 11:17 PM
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The real answer is that you can get most jobs with either degree. Employers want to see a degree hopefully from a reputable school but the specifics about degree often don't mean much. People move very far away from their degree either immediately after school or it just happens all the time.

A while ago, My project manager did an informal survey at a meeting to see what our backgrounds were in. This is a technically oriented business systems analysis group with some roles big finance.

We ended up with a criminal justice major, behavioral neuroscience, fine art, history, political science.... Not a computer or business major in the house,

That is the way most things are. Don't worry about the degree. Worry about what you want to do. You may need to some of the bottom of barrel type positions to get some experience, contacts, and see if it is right for you.
#4
Old 02-19-2007, 11:20 PM
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I majored in political science. I am now a Communications Manager at a major financial institution.

My brother majored in sociology. He is now a Public Defender in the juvenile division.

Your friend should absolutely study the subjects in which she is most interested. She will find a path that works for her, although it might require postgraduate education. (I have none; my brother has a law degree). Unless you are going into academics, political science and sociology don't really translate into specific jobs. As I learned on the first day of my first political science class, almost everything in life is touched by politics, and the same could be said of sociology.

Does she have a particular career in which she's interested? I did tons of internships and volunteer work at various levels of politics, including a legislative fellowship after I graduated. My brother did various jobs in which he worked with kids in trouble. Your friend should consider an internship or volunteer job in the field in which she's interested. At the very least, she could do some informational interviews with people in the field and find out what kind of educational background they have. People who end up in politics or social work tend to have all different types of humanities degrees -- some even have science degrees.

Ultimately, her major is not going to matter as much as learning skills that can be translated into whatever she ultimately does. Political science gave me the public relations and writing skills I use in my current job.
#5
Old 02-20-2007, 01:09 AM
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Whatever she studies, she should take courses in business, and especially management. When you excel at what you do, you will be promoted to be the boss of other people who do the same thing.
#6
Old 02-20-2007, 02:56 AM
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I majored in Political Science/History and got a Masters in English.

I work as a computer user services specialist at a college. None of the user services staff have computer-related degrees.

Employers don't really care what your major is. You experience is much more important.
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#7
Old 02-20-2007, 04:33 AM
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I would agree that employers are impressed by your ability to get a degree, rather than which one it is (obviously not counting precise careers like medicine or law).

Perhaps it's more accurate to say that your friend is less likely to get a job that involves the material on her course?
#8
Old 02-20-2007, 01:28 PM
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I'd like to hear some more opinions if you don't mind.
#9
Old 02-20-2007, 01:53 PM
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The OP used the word "major" 6 times..and that's part of the problem. Naturally, students use it all the time--but it is a very misleading concept.The word "major" is useless outside the campus.
In the real world, you don't "major in" something--you DO something. And you do it a lot --40 hours a week for 45 years.
So: Ask not "what would I like to major in"?
Ask "what would I like to DO with my life?

Because what you do with your life may or may not have any connection with which courses you took, which books you read and which papers you wrote for 4 years while the parents were paying your expenses.

Some students know that they want to do something that requires specific education, and so they can "major" in it. After all, if you want to work designing concrete foundations for buildings, or inserting colonoscopes into in patients' rectums, then you can do it in the relevant department on campus.

But if you don't know what you want to do--then don't try to "major" in it! Remember, in the real world, you have to "do" something, not "major" in something. Studying liberal arts is nice, and rewarding. But it will not give you job skills that you can offer to employers. So you have to develop those skills on your own, without majoring in them formally.


Some students major in a subject that will give them a real job when they graduate, so they dont have to start the "Doing" while they are still students. They can work a part time job waiting tables. But your major isn't like that, so you need to start the "Doing" long before you graduate--I.e. doing something that the real world will pay you for, not doing 7 page papers and writing exams.

Most important: Join organizations on campus, and develop skills in leadership and managing people. Then you can "major" in poly sci, but you will be be "doing" something else--and that can lead to a career.

Last edited by chappachula; 02-20-2007 at 01:57 PM.
#10
Old 02-20-2007, 02:09 PM
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What kind of jobs can one get with a sociology major?
Probably quite similar to jobs you can get with a poly sci major.

What about a polsci major?
See above.

I agree with what others have said above about how she should do what she is interested in, because by and large employers are more interested that you have a degree than what it was in.

But it sounds to me (a public servant) from those choices that she is interested in public service, so I would say either:

* Government - either in the civil service or working for a politician. This place is thick with poly-sci and sociology majors. Other liberal arts (english, history, etc) as well but not nearly so many. Job titles: policy/program analysts, project/program coordinators, executive assistants (a much more involved role than a personal assistant in the public sector, from what I understand: it is a pretty senior policy role), and of course management positions. Look at a government employment board to see what kinds of positions they hire and what skills they need.

* Non-governmental organizations - lobby groups, think tanks, charities, etc. Job titles here are diverse and much more loosely defined than in the gvt.

How is the job market for both fields like?
Totally depends on your geographic region. Here it's tough, so you need to be at the top of your game, which you can do basically through networking (i.e. the art of being in the right place at the right time - the way most people get jobs, it seems). If "networking breakfasts" and contrived corporate social events aren't her thing (they certainly aren't mine) there are always campus organizations, internships, volunteering - paying your dues and getting to know people.

It also helps to become something of an expert in a subject that (a) governments don't know anything about, and (b) governments recognize that they should know something about. This is not nearly as difficult as it might seem; see point below about policy areas.

Are there any other majors that are closely related to the abovementionned she should consider?
Public administration. Communications. Business administration never hurts either.

She should consider (not as a major, but within her major) focussing on particular policy areas (environment, transportation, municipal infrastructure, energy, etc) or organizations (specific governmental or non-governmental agencies/boards/commissions, etc) that would be of interest to potential employers. Those kinds of things provide extremely useful answers for the "What can you contribute to our office?" kinds of job-interview questions.

Last edited by cowgirl; 02-20-2007 at 02:13 PM. Reason: going back to answer the question and name jobs
#11
Old 02-20-2007, 02:21 PM
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I agree with pretty much everything above, but will take a slightly different approach. What are the jobs that a degree in political science or sociology will be considered an advantage in getting? Political science as a major will be an advantage to someone who wants to work in politics. This could include legislative staff, campaign workers, constituent services, and public management positions. Entry level jobs won't pay much, and connections and luck will pay a big part in advancement. Sociology will be an advantage in getting jobs in social work, usually requiring some additional education or certification. Entry level jobs won't pay much, and senior level jobs won't pay much. The jobs will be satisfying for the right person who doesn't get burned out and thrives on public service.

If this student is academically way above average, going all the way through the Ph.D. in one of those fields would allow her to compete for a limited number of opportunities as a university professor.

A minor or double major with something business/financial/technical could be very helpful in opening more doors. For example, within poli sci, would she have the technical skills to work on e-government projects? If she studies sociology of women and the family, would she be able to work on marketing products to mothers and children?
#12
Old 02-25-2007, 03:12 PM
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#13
Old 02-25-2007, 05:48 PM
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The advertising and marketing fields lend themselves particularly well to social sciences graduates. I worked for years in a Marketing department with my Anthropology degree (BA).

My parents have their own business in Market Research, my dad has a PhD. in Sociology (dissertation was on communal living) and my mom has an MA in English literature and a MSW. These days, my parents have a particular niche doing observational studies. But when they started out, it was lots and lots of survey writing and analysis. Kinda like, you know, social sciences.
#14
Old 02-25-2007, 10:39 PM
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Careers in Political Science from the American Political Science Association

The American Sociological Association website also has career information.

If your friend is currently in college, the professors in her college's PoliSci department would probably also be good sources of information. I would imagine that that is equally true of the Sociology department.

Call me Frank - likewise clueless PoliSci major

Last edited by Call me Frank; 02-25-2007 at 10:43 PM. Reason: PS
#15
Old 02-26-2007, 12:29 AM
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BA in poli sci here.

It's probably the least useful thing I own.
#16
Old 02-26-2007, 02:37 AM
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As someone who double majored in Criminal Justice and Sociology, let me say: DON'T!!!


Seriously, no job 'requires' a sociology degree, but plenty 'require' a business degree. You can cast a much broader net with a business/science/engineering/teaching degree. Save the fun "oh I'm interested in liberal arts" stuff for your free time.

Last edited by Captain_C; 02-26-2007 at 02:38 AM.
#17
Old 02-26-2007, 10:40 AM
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There are a lot of Peace Corps volunteers with poli-sci and sociology degrees. Not a career, but a decent start to one.

Pretty much no major outside of very tecnical ones (accounting, engineering, etc.) nowdays is going to lead straight to a job, high paying or otherwise. If you arn't interested in a job like that (we all wern't born to be accountants) the route in life is going to be a little harder and a lot less unsure. I advise all college students to prepare for some lean years and crappy jobs while they build up experience, connections and skills.

I don't think a liberal arts degree is worthless, though. I majored in film, arguably one of the more useless majors out there. My degree has certainly never on it's own gotten me a job. But I learned a lot- how to write, how to be persuesive, how to tell a damn good story (invaluable during job interviews), how to analyze things, how to bullshit, how to co-ordinate projects using limited resources, and how and when to take risks- that has helped me perform exceptionally on-the-job and has lead to promotions and many unique oppertunities.

And even if I never work in film (not unlikely) I have at the very least a deep appreciation of something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Is that worth four years and the tens of thousands of dollars I still owe in student loans? Doesn't seem like it at first, but you only live once and how much is a richer life worth? It wasn't an easy path to choose, but so far I don't regret it.
#18
Old 02-26-2007, 11:16 AM
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Would you like fries with that ?
#19
Old 02-26-2007, 12:01 PM
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Welcome to the Service Sector. I have minors in both, and a worthless major to boot. Makes for a well-rounded high school teacher but not much else. Why doesn't she get an education in a real subject?
#20
Old 02-26-2007, 12:12 PM
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I see people have plenty of snarky/bitter input about "useless" majors, but put me in the other camp. I know a number of people who have gone far with social science and humanities majors.

I think the New York Times just featured an opinion piece on this, about how the world keeps changing, as do job expectations, and that it's hard to nail down any major that will thoroughly prepare you for a specific job. People need to stop worshipping at the altar of the almighty applied professional major. I think if you want to be someone who fits in well in the knowledge economy, you need to be adaptive, creative, and good at critical thinking. There are lots of ways to work on those skills--no one discpline (or applied field!) has a monopoly on them.

Studying political science and sociology means your friend will be studying power and relationships and human interaction. That's not exactly irrelevant stuff.
#21
Old 02-26-2007, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrankyAsAnOldMan
I see people have plenty of snarky/bitter input about "useless" majors, but put me in the other camp. I know a number of people who have gone far with social science and humanities majors.

I think the New York Times just featured an opinion piece on this, about how the world keeps changing, as do job expectations, and that it's hard to nail down any major that will thoroughly prepare you for a specific job. People need to stop worshipping at the altar of the almighty applied professional major. I think if you want to be someone who fits in well in the knowledge economy, you need to be adaptive, creative, and good at critical thinking. There are lots of ways to work on those skills--no one discpline (or applied field!) has a monopoly on them.

Studying political science and sociology means your friend will be studying power and relationships and human interaction. That's not exactly irrelevant stuff.
I'll agree....Brainiac4 and I both have six figure incomes with "useless" degrees - hell, neither of us actually HAS our degree....I'm a paper away from a B.A. in Art History (IT Project Manager), he's a class away from a degree in Sociology (Senior Manager, Fortune 100).

What a liberal arts "almost a degree" taught me - an ability to think abstractly, to think outside the box, to pull together information and make sense out of it.

Granted, both of us have some "native" talent and have just had great luck (it was nice to have computer skills, people skills, and an understanding of business during the IT boom - none of which came from those Art History classes).

I'm back in school getting a business degree, but its a resume check in case I have to go job hunting.

(I know a few MBAs currently employed pouring double skim caramel lattes).
#22
Old 02-26-2007, 03:30 PM
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My wife has a BS in Sociology with a double minor in Psychology and Criminal Justice. Learning how to read people and understand behavior and motivation proved invaluable in her career inÖsales. Thatís right, she worked in sales for some major companies and learned how to manipulate people into buying whatever she was peddling. Made six figures doing it, too.

From what Iíve seen, it doesnít really matter what your degree is in (outside of the technical positions such as engineering or computers), most companies are just looking for you to have a degree. A BS seems to be more acceptable than a BA but YMMV. When I worked for a commodities trading firm some of the top traders had degrees in psychology, philosophy and music history.
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