September 28, 2020

Alumni panel discusses career opportunities in sociology

By Jamie Gerhartz

Five alumni returned to the College on Wednesday, April 13, in room 326 of the Social Sciences Building, to provide insight about finding a job after graduation to current sociology majors.

Four of the panelists spoke in person, while one gave advice via video chat. The panelists talked about their lives after graduating the College and gave students advice for finding a job and what life might be like after graduating with a sociology degree.

All of the panelists talked about how they came to get the jobs they currently have. The stories range from job hunting online to meeting someone with connections.

One of the speakers, Urban Planner at Burgis Associates, Inc. Dave Novak (’09), talked about how he landed his job in city planning.

“I got very lucky,” Novak said.

He said that during his time in graduate school, he struck up a conversation with a woman whose husband happened to own a planning firm. From that interaction, he got a part-time job, which eventually turned into his current full-time job.

“Just by being open and respectful and talking to people, I was able to get employment,” Novak said.

Research Analyst at Russell Market Research Amity Menard (’09) said that she got her job from and eventually progressed from just arranging data into tables to her current position at Russell Market Research. She talked about how she didn’t know anything about tabulations at the time, but by being open to learning, she was able to work her way up.

The panelists advise students about standing out in a competitive job market.
The panelists advise students about standing out in a competitive job market.

The panelists were also asked to give advice to the students about job interviews. The most common tip was to be confident and be yourself.

In a world of people fighting for highly-competitive jobs, it is important to stand out and not be afraid to put yourself out there, according to Elementary Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction at Middletown Township School District in New Jersey Natalie Franzi (’08).

Another important skill to acquire when searching for a job is the ability to network. All of the panelists mentioned networking as a way to broaden their searches and to get more job opportunities.

“When you hire me, you’re not just hiring me,” Franzi said. “You’re hiring all of the smart people that I’m connected to.”

Networking helps people get more job opportunities and makes people more desirable because they have a list of people who are willing to help them and vouch for them, according to Franzi.

Many students wanted to know how to answer tough interview questions.

“A common question in job interviews is, ‘What is your biggest weakness?’ What is the best way to answer that question?” junior early childhood education and sociology double major Alex Grcic asked.

According to Franzi, this is a trick.

When answering this question, the interviewee should respond with something that can be turned into a positive or something that you can easily fix, Franzi said.

“Say something that is a weakness, but also say how you are improving on it,” Franzi said.

Though the panel answered several questions on students’ minds, it also reaffirmed the importance of pursuing a degree in sociology. According to Novak, sociology teaches students about social and economic trends and how they affect people.

Beyond noticing societal trends, studying sociology gives students insight into others’ lives.

Menard said that sociology teaches students how to understand people that are not like them and how to interpret the thoughts and actions of different groups of people.

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