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Career Guide

1. REFLECT on your interests and RESEARCH careers or graduate school programs:

  • Do you want to go to law school, graduate school in public policy, public health, healthcare administration, or social work, explore PhD programs in the social sciences, work in urban planning, data analysis, higher education, journalism, public service, market research, or community development? Sociology is a broad discipline, and therefore, can be applied to many areas and fields. Reflect on your academic interests and desired career trajectory; what are your passions and where do you see yourself in 5 years?

    Tip: focus on what YOU want to do, not what your parents, internet posts, or your fears are signaling to you.

  • Identify schools, industries, organizations, and/or employers of interest based on factors like your academic focus, internship experiences, career goals, and desired location.

  • Review example job postings and application requirements for desired positions/programs and identify the qualifications needed to obtain these positions.

    Note: You don't have to know exactly what you want to do, but it's always good to have some kind of plan, make progress toward a goal, and pivot from there as you find more direction through your college experience.

2. CREATE ACTIONABLE PLANS to intentionally develop the required skills, experiences, and expertise for desired opportunities while considering what makes you stand out:

  • Tailor your Soc electives and sub-major (LJSC, SHM, or SSW) to your areas of interest. Consider adding a relevant minor

  • Set goals to maintain or raise your GPA as you complete your degree! 

  • Focus course projects on your areas of interest and feature a notable project (like a Senior Thesis, SOC 310 Sociological Research Methods project, or SURO) on your resume and online career profile.

  • Develop skills specific to your area of focus through writing intensive papers, course projects, opportunities like the Senior Thesis + Honors Program, and/or free Linkedin Learning tutorials to supplement your coursework (e.g. modeling in R, project management, Excel, data visualization in Tableau, etc).

  • Work on gaining relevant experience via internships, campus opportunities, student organizations, undergraduate research (SOC 394), part-time employment, or volunteer positions (SOC 225). The LSA Opportunity Hub can help you land your first internship. Internship opportunities shared with the department are sent out via our biweekly major/minor newsletter. 

  • Prepare to take any required exams like the LSAT and GRE. Newnan Pre-Professional Advisors can provide guidance on the timing and preparation for exams. 

  • Keep abreast of industry news, emerging trends, and new research areas in your discipline.

  • Think about what makes you YOU! What are your unique qualities/interests and how do they help you stand out? What sets you apart?

    Example: You may want to pursue medicine but are also passionate about health disparities and social inequality. Many pre-med students study biology or chemistry, but you may choose the Sociology major with the Sociology of Health & Medicine sub-major while completing pre-med requirements to investigate the socio-demographic, cultural, and ethical contexts that underlie health behavior and health policy.

3. BUILD YOUR NETWORK and conduct informational interviews:

  • Faculty members and GSIs are excellent resources for students as mentors and recommenders. Get to know instructors through smaller classes, office hours, the Senior Thesis + Honors Program in Sociology, or SURO. Faculty and doctoral students have profiles under the People section of this site. 

  • Talk to other Sociology majors about their plans, internships, and involvement on campus. Join student organizations, societies, and associations related to your academic/professional interests using the Maize Pages search function.

  • Find an alum doing what you want to do, introduce yourself, and ask them about their journey into the field. LSA Connect through the LSA Opportunity Hub is an online mentoring and networking platform exclusively for LSA students and alums. Students can receive professional guidance from alums and leverage these relationships as a source of learning, support, and development. The Alumni Association and Career Center (UCAN) offer other networking resources and mentorship options.

  • Identify and confirm three references or recommenders. They could be instructors, supervisors, or student services staff members.

  • Attend career fairs and expos. Contact the LSA Opportunity Hub, Career Center, and/or Newnan Pre-Professional Advisors for upcoming fairs related to the social sciences and practice your elevator pitch!

4. PREPARE your career or graduate school materials and APPLY!

  • Schedule appointments with a career or pre-professional advisor to discuss your preparation and search progress.

  • Refine your resume, cover letter template, statements, and/or LinkedIn profile. Contact your academic adviser, career adviser, mentors, and classmates to review your materials and evaluate your professional/academic brand.

  • Research and prepare responses to common interview questions and work with a career advisor on mock interviews. The Career Center and LSA Opportunity Hub specialize in coaching students on telling their "story" and presenting their unique experiences.  

  • The Career Center has an online job database called Handshake where employers have specifically selected the University of Michigan as a school to receive their listings. Review postings on Handshake and other job sites relevant to your desired area.

  • Apply for jobs or programs! Create a search schedule and tracking document in Excel to ensure you regularly monitor job boards, recruitment seasons, deadlines, and keep track of submitted applications. Many students apply for dozens of jobs or programs, so start early and keep up the momentum. Best of luck!