After Graduation: What Next?

Sociologists pursue many different kinds of careers. They work with survey firms (public opinion polling, the census bureau, test marketing) and public health organizations, they are critical contributors to non-profit organizations that advocate for the disadvantaged or provide services for the needy. Professional schools (law, medicine, business, and government) are anxious to attract sociologists because they have a broad understanding of the social order and research skills (interviewing, participant observation, survey data analysis, etc.) that are valuable in these fields. So what do Princeton Sociology majors actually do when they leave us? We asked them in a survey of students who graduated in the 1980s and 90s. These are graduates who have been out in the world for long enough to provide a good idea of where they have landed. Here is what we found:

  1. A majority (54%) work in the private for-profit sector, but a significant minority (30%) work in non-profit organizations, including educational institutions. Smaller numbers work in government and other settings.
  2. About 18% work in education; 18% in communications and media; 16% in finance, insurance, and real estate; and 13% in law. Other fields of work include public policy, medicine, and manufacturing.
  3. A large majority obtain advanced degrees after graduating from Princeton. Of those who had been out of Princeton for at least six years, 68% had received advanced degrees. Most common were law degrees. There are also quite a few M.B.A.s, M.D.s and Ph.D.s among our graduates.

To put some texture into these numbers, here are some examples of students who graduated with BA's from our department in recent years. They are in many ways typical of the interesting people who study with us and go on to make remarkable contributions in the world:

Laura Hardman Collins '99
Graduate Student at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University

I am currently in my second year of business school at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke, focusing on management in the non-profit sector. Before attending Business School, I served as Director of Recruitment and a Career Counselor at the Duke University School of Law. Prior to that, I directed Princeton Project 55's Public Interest Program.

Helen Marrow '00
Graduate Student in Sociology and Social Policy at Harvard University

I am still studying sociology in a Ph.D. program in Sociology and Social Policy at Harvard University. I keep in touch fairly well with my undergraduate professors and advisors from Princeton. I study immigration, race and ethnicity, social stratification and inequality, and am expecting to finish my Ph.D. in June 2007. I hope to get a job in academia after that, teaching Sociology at a research university.

Shawna Bowden Vican '02
Graduate Student in Sociology at Harvard University

I spent two years between undergrad and grad school working in marketing at a major CPG company. Though I did tire of deciphering potato chip consumption patterns, my background in sociology proved very useful. [Now in graduate school, in sociology at Harvard] I'm working on a project following up my senior thesis. Using EEOC longitudinal data I'm examining the effects of "family-friendly" human resource policies on the gender mix within firms. Additionally, I'm joining a research team working on ethnographic research into how formal and informal job structures interact with work-life issues.

Catherine Casey '02
Graduate Student in the Masters Program in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University

I'm just starting a Masters in Public Policy at the Kennedy School at Harvard, and am part of a new program - the Reynolds Foundation Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship. Before coming to KSG I had been working with refugee programs, first in northern Uganda and most recently at a resettlement agency in New York City where I was running an employment program for underemployed refugee professionals.

Michelle Nielson '03
Account Executive

I am currently an account executive at an international marketing firm specializing in consumer promotions and direct marketing. My job description changes everyday, and includes everything from drafting legal partnership agreements, to designing packages and toys with a team of creative artists. Prior to this position I worked in New York as a producer in the Broadcast Marketing Department at the CBS News Network where I wrote, edited and produced the on-air promos for the following shows: The Early Show, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, 48 Hours, and 60 Minutes.

Amy Schnall '04
Graduate Student in the Master of Public Health Program at Emory University

Since graduation from Princeton in June 2004, I have been enrolled full-time in the MPH (Master of Public Health) program at Emory University — concentrating in behavioral health and health education. Upon completion of my academic program this coming Spring (2006), I hope to work in the area of health communication creating public service announcements, commercials, and media campaigns. My primary interest centers on attempts to modify adolescent behaviors in the context of obesity, STDs, AIDS-risk exposure, condom use and body image-exercise.

Amy Krilla '05
Research Assistant at the The Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

Currently, and for the next year,I am working as Daniel Kahneman's research assistant here at Princeton, looking at cross-cultural data on happiness and wellbeing that was gathered using the Day Reconstruction Method. I am also trying to publish my senior thesis, a project that used Fragile Families data to analyze predictors of marriage among low-income couples.