Thinking about your future

What sorts of things do you like to do? The knowledge, skills and abilities that students learn are important for a range of jobs and careers

Across most of the social sciences, there is a loose fit between undergraduate degrees and careers. Anthropology majors, for instance, don’t necessarily have careers where they call themselves Anthropologists. Instead, they use what they learned in anthropology for jobs and careers that fit a variety of interests. (Guppy, p. 2)

Sociology and anthropology degrees help people prepare for a variety of careers. Most people change jobs or careers multiple times in their lives, so this flexibility is a good thing.

In a recent study of US employers, nearly all said that an applicant's undergraduate major was less important than "a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems." They cared about ethical judgment and integrity, intercultural skills, and the ability to keep learning. A majority also said they wished more undergraduates had critical thinking skills, were better at complex problem-solving and at writing and speaking, and could apply knowledge in real-world settings. (Survey Summary)

These are all things that students learn in our department.

We can see the flexibility of sociology or anthropology degrees in three main ways:

  1. They're useful for lots of jobs. We can see this in surveys of 2009-2013 SA graduates from BC universities. Two years after getting their degree—when a lot of people are putting time into entry-level jobs or just getting started in their careers—three-quarters of graduates said that the knowledge, skills and abilities they learned in their programs were useful for their jobs. About half said their jobs were very or somewhat related to their degrees. This means that SA degrees are often useful for work, whether or not early post-college jobs are directly related. (Data compiled by the department.)    
  2. They're good preparation for lots of professions. Many people who earn an SA degree also get a more advanced degree, like a JD or MA or MBA. Their SA degree is often relevant for their careers, even if it's not obvious. For instance, when someone is a lawyer they usually talk about their law degree; but the kind of lawyer they are might be influenced by what they studied as an undergraduate. Also, many medical schools recommend or require social sciences courses, and most don't care which major you chose – as long as you were engaged, worked hard, and did well. (For instance, Queens University School of Medicine’s selection factors look a lot like what SA students learn. (Selection factors))
  3. Companies don't need to want Sociologists or Anthropologists to want people with SA degrees. Some SA students go on to get an MA or PhD in anthropology or sociology, and some of them become Anthropologists or Sociologists. Most jobs looking for these majors, however, say so in their qualifications rather than their job titles. An example from a recent job ad: you might have heard the saying that bureaucracies move slowly. One local company wants someone who knows about people and organizations, and can work with employee groups to help them implement changes more quickly. The job title isn't Sociologist or Anthropologist, but a degree in either of these fields is one of the qualifications they list.

We don’t prepare students for one particular career. Instead, students use the knowledge and skills they learn, and the interests they develop, to figure out what careers they want to have.