Sociology opens doors to many careers, undergrads hear from once undecided alumni
There’s more to a sociology degree than meets the eye. At least that was the message sociology undergraduates were sent recently by a group of Clemson alumni, whose social science careers have taken them down roads they weren’t anticipating just a few years ago.
“There are misperceptions about sociology and some don’t know what they can do with a sociology degree,” said Jennifer Holland, undergraduate coordinator, career advisor and senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. “We wanted to give our students concrete examples of what sociology majors can do with their degrees, and our panel of recent graduates provided some eye-opening examples.”
The alumni panel included Vernita Brown ’08, investment manager, United Way of Greenville; Whitley Mann ’11, neonatal intensive care unit social worker, Greenville Health System; Martin Maloney ’12 undergraduate, ’14 masters, special projects coordinator, Charleston law firm Nelson Mullins; and Katlyn Gould ’14, wish granter, Make a Wish Foundation.
Alli Thomas, a senior and one of more than 200 sociology majors in the College of Business and Behavioral Science, coordinated the alumni panel event. Little did Alli know in planning the event, the speakers would have a career-altering effect on her.
“After hearing the panelists say you really need to pursue your passion in order to be happy, I realized my passion will always lie in helping others, especially children and youth. After looking into various programs, I decided to apply to the Youth Leadership Development master’s program at Clemson.”
Panelist Whitley Mann said she was unsure of a career when she graduated from Clemson in 2011, so she got her graduate degree in social work. “The masters opened doors for me, and through an internship I discovered I had a real passion for children and families,” which led to her career with GHS in the neonatal intensive care unit.
“The alumni event was an invaluable experience for any undergraduate undecided on a career path. It gave them an opportunity to hear tips from people who were in their position not long ago and also helped build their network,” Mann said.
“Many students believe sociology limits you to a career in one of the traditional helping fields, but we have graduates working in most sectors of the economy,” Holland said. “Many of our students go on to work in law enforcement or social services, but we also have quite a few with careers in business, education and the non-profit field.”
Holland said feedback on the event from alumni, faculty and students was very positive. “This is the first event of its kind for us. Some students have already made connections with alumni since the event. Hopefully, it will lead to good opportunities as they pursue their careers.”