"The core function of marketing is to influence behavior, and the hardest part about this is understanding people and why they do what they do.
Oftentimes, marketers make the mistake of segmenting consumers based off of demographics and their individual agency. In reality, it's the social connections and groups we are a part of that guide our behavior the most."
- Kayla Ladis
Let's learn a little about her experiences...
What made you select Sociology as your major?
I selected Sociology as my major because it provides powerful insights into the social processes shaping the lives, experiences, problems and possibilities of our contemporary world. Freshman year, of all the introductory courses I took to discover which subject appealed to me most, Sociology 100 stood out because everything I learned was directly applicable to my life and the world around me, from politics, to the economy, to social media, to personal and professional relationships. I found that I was naturally drawn to learning about the material, and enjoyed doing the assignments and discussing them further with my professor. This was a good sign! From that point on I noticed that all of the Sociology courses seemed interesting to me when perusing the course guide. I had older friends in different majors who would complain about a course they "had" to take, but I wanted to take all of the Sociology classes, even the requirements. As a junior, I still struggle to pick classes because so many interest me. My favorite classes so far have been Law and Society (Soc 354 with Sandra Levitsky) and Economic Sociology (Soc 395 with Roi Livne). Additionally, in thinking about my future when picking a major, I realized how the ability to identify and understand social processes, or what C.W. Mills calls the "sociological imagination," would be valuable preparation for my personal and professional participation in any company or relationship, especially in a changing and complex society.
When did you decide to focus on sales and marketing?
I have always been interested in business, but more on the people side. I took an introductory marketing class in Ross, "Marketing 302" with Marcus Collins (I highly recommend taking a class with him!), and found that marketing and sales offered me the ability to be creative and client-facing, while developing important quantitative skills such as analyzing data and making strategic business decisions. I am now in the Cappo Sales Track and love supplementing my liberal arts education with business classes that interest me. In simple terms, the goal of marketing is to influence people's behavior. To do this, marketers need to understand people. In a lesson on segmenting and targeting markets, Marcus taught our class that marketers often make the mistake of targeting people based off of demographics (age, gender, geography) when in reality, people aren't individual agents. What we learn in Sociology is that our social connections affect every aspect our lives, and in business you should target people not based on who they are, but on who they want to be and how they want others to perceive them. As a Sociology major, I'm aware of different factors that influence people's behavior, and think that my perspective would benefit any business.
What experiences led you to feel more confident when applying to internships?
In an interview earlier this semester for a marketing summer internship with with a Fortune 500 company, I did not think I stood a chance against my BBA friends and peers going for the same position. I ended up making it to the final round interview where I asked the recruiter why they had chosen me to make it this far. She said that they loved my unique perspective as a Sociology major. She acknowledged how BBAs have invaluable insight to bring to businesses, but social science students, especially studying Sociology, can look at problems or cases with a different perspective. I felt confident knowing that some companies really appreciate and value the perspective I bring, and for those that didn't, it wasn't the right match anyway.
Can you talk a little bit more about the importance of social connections?
Social connections are important for developing and maintaining both professional and personal relationships. I have found that a strong sense of self-awareness, especially when working with others, is crucial. You need to be able to understand others' motivations and goals, and do your best to support them. Once you realize that everyone is just trying to get by the best they can, you can stop worrying what others think about you and instead focus on yourself but also how you can be a good friend, coworker, or peer to that person. A rising tide lifts all boats, and no one wants to work or hangout in a hostile environment. You need to lift people up! If you bring positivity to relationships both inside and outside the office, you will be happier and others will want to be around you. Who wants to be friends with the girl in the office who just complains or brings other people down? What recruiter wants to answer questions that make them feel stressed (where do you see yourself in 5 years?)? Talk to people about things that excite them, and they will want to talk to you. Additionally, follow up with them: thank them, ask them questions, keep them updated on where you end up.
Do you feel there is a difference in awareness when it comes to Sociology students versus traditional business/marketing students?
A Sociology student learns about history, other cultures and times, the interconnectedness of social life, and different frameworks of thought. We gather information like business students, but put that information into multiple perspectives to creatively solve problems. Sociological training helps students bring breadth and depth of understanding to the workplace, not just their day to day job functions but also how to navigate relationships. A Sociology student learns to think abstractly, formulate problems, ask appropriate questions, search for answers, analyze situations and data, organize material, write well, and make oral presentations that help others develop insight and make decisions. Business students also do these things, but Sociology students in LSA likely take classes from other disciplines that allow them to consider multiple, unique perspectives. I personally have seen how material from subjects I've taken such Psychology, Economics, English have played a role in how I analyze situations. They definitely enhance my perspective.
Do you have anything you’d like to add?
Sociology addresses the most challenging issues of our contemporary society. It's a rapidly expanding field and develops people who will be able to best craft policies, create programs, and collaborate with other fields to solve societal issues and inequities. Sociologists understand social inequality, patterns of behavior, forces for social change and resistance, and the workings of social systems. Sociology is an exciting discipline with expanding opportunities for a wide range of career paths. I think you can really do anything you want with a Sociology major. This is exciting when thinking about my future ability to make a difference in the world. Additionally, as a Sociology major, I am genuinely enjoying college because I love my classes and the community of kind, open-mined faculty and classmates that I encounter. These classes and individuals bring out my curiosity and critical thinking skills, and they challenge me like I have never been challenged before. After my exams and papers are over, I don't just forget what I've learned. I think about Sociology in everything I do, and it has truly changed the way I see the world.