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Types of Careers that our Graduates Pursue
What do sociology and anthropology graduates do? We gathered information from Statistics Canada, the BC Graduates Survey, and even LinkedIn. These show us that SA graduates go in a variety of directions. Here is one way of thinking about the types of careers that students pursue, with examples from the jobs listed by SFU graduates on LinkedIn.
Many students study sociology and anthropology because they care about social justice. In their careers, they bring an important understanding of the causes of inequality, how to communicate about social issues, and how to encourage change. People work in community organizations or policy programs, public health, journalism or education, they become welfare rights advisors, or work in non-profit organizations or charities.
Many people study sociology or anthropology because they like people, and these degrees help us better understanding people who are around us and who live in different settings or situations. People-focused careers are found in lots of different parts of society. They include social work, youth work, housing, career advice, legal advocacy, education, sales, dentistry, human relations, and even social planning and professional matchmaking!
These areas overlap more than you might think! Both of them are often about connecting with people who have different backgrounds and needs. Technical writers, for instance, figure out how to help a general audience understand a technical subject, while a graphic designer might develop a visual that clearly communicates the purpose of a specialized project. SA graduates are also professional musicians, run musical festivals, and edit or produce films.
Do you want to work in business settings, where the people you work with the most are your colleagues? SA degrees help people collaborate better with others: students learn how different experiences can lead to varying perspectives, and why other viewpoints might be different than theirs. Understanding this is useful in many jobs in the business and non-profit world, education, and also in careers involving market research and retail or project management. (ASA)
Some SA majors want to be part of the interaction between society and individuals. For instance, marketing requires understanding different perspectives and effectively communicating to a variety of people. Others careers in this area that graduates have pursued include government or policy work; working in museums, law, health or administration; and international development and aid work.
Some people find that they love conducting social science research. Graduates might work at Statistics Canada or other government departments, universities, in think tanks or issue-oriented nonprofit organizations, and at private companies. New graduates might work as research assistants to gain experience, then earn a Master’s so they can administer research projects, or go on to earn a PhD so they can design, carry out and publish research.
Finding a Job and Developing a Career After Graduation: Selected Resources
6 Career Secrets No One Ever Told You
Adapted from “the Adventures of Johnny Bunko, the Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need” (Pink, Daniel H.)
- There is no plan. Recognize that the future is unpredictable and uncertain. Equip yourself to embrace change.
- Think strengths, not weaknesses. Successful people use what they’re good at. Spend time and energy on getting better at what you are good at.
- It’s not about you. The most successful people improve their own lives by improving others’ lives.
- Persistence trumps talent. The people who achieve the most are often the ones who show up every day, stick with it, and work hard.
- Make excellent mistakes. Each time you make a mistake, you get a little better and move a little closer to excellence.
- Leave an imprint. Do something that matters, leaving the world better than before.
Advice from people who were in your shoes:
- Be Patient - Don’t think that your education will lead directly to a dream job. For almost all university graduates, it typically takes time to climb the ladder to get to a well-paid job, or to find your niche if you're looking for a job you love.
- Be Optimistic - Your attitude is a significant factor in a successful job search. Be the kind of person you would wish to hire if you were an employer, and prepare for a positive outcome.
- Be Flexible - An SA undergraduate degree equips you with a set of highly transferable skills. Consider a variety of jobs, and you might discover something that focuses a secondary interest and also allows you to follow your primary passion. Or you might find a job you can work at while pursuing your main interests outside of work.
- Be Self-Aware - Do an inventory of your interests, skills, and abilities. Ideally, locate your passion(s) and strive to find a way to be paid for pursuing it (them).
- Be Proactive - Seek out volunteer jobs in areas that you’re interested in. It will give you the chance to see whether that’s where you really want to put your energy. It also hopes you develop relationships that may help in securing a job. You’re much more likely to be hired if an employer knows you and your work.
- Be Prepared - Once you get an interview, learn about the nature of the organization and be able to propose where your talents could be used to meet the employer’s needs. Practice responding to interview questions.
- Career options for sociology graduates: top 10 tips & What to do with a degree in anthropology (From The Guardian)
- Preparing for the Job Market: a Sociological Primer & The Sociology of Job Finding (From UBC sociologists, pages 4-7)
- 5 Fascinating Jobs You Can Get With a Sociology Degree (Even Cosmopolitan is onto this!)
- Anthropology Major: Best Major to Change Your Life (The Living Anthropology blog)
- Careers in Anthropology (The American Anthropological Association)
- "Yes, There Are Jobs in That: An Ethnographic Investigation of Careers of People with Anthropology and Sociology Undergraduate Degrees" (Report prepared by Jeremie Balasadas, Danielle Gordon, & Rachael Allen, Feb 2018)
For more advice on preparing for your post-graduation career, see SFU Career Services.