A Day’s Worth of Post-Grad Advice

Yesterday, I attended a Sociology Alumni Panel at the UCLA Faculty Center, facilitated by the Sociology department chair. It was quite eye-opening and definitely motivating, as it’s easy to feel lost as a sociology major. But listen people, sociology is a valuable field! It can take you anywhere! Because hello… there are people and groups of people interacting EVERYWHERE. :)

These were the four alumni speakers:

Timothy Harris
Senior Vice President, Business Operations
The Los Angeles Lakers

Susan Kellogg
President
VF Contemporary Brands

John Kobara
Executive Vice President and CEO
California Community Foundation

Krystal Walden
Founder and CEO
Krystal Spa

After hearing these speakers’ journeys, experiences, and how they relate sociology to their careers, this is what I learned…

Work in the corporate world! It’s just like a grad school experience, but I can make a steady income and have the opportunity to learn every facet of a business. Working in corporate teaches you a number of invaluable skills. VF manages about 30 different high-end clothing brands and Susan oversees 4 of them, such 7 For All Mankind. She said you never know where life will take you, but leap at every opportunity.

Understand how to interact with people. Relationships are key. Okayy, do I hear my sociology degree at work? Sure I won’t directly refer to that one lecture about Durkheim or even recalls Goffman’s facework… but we need to understand people in every realm of business in order to do any type of business.

IQ and EQ are extremely and equally important. In order to be successful in almost any career, people need both intellectual and emotional intelligence.

WIGO. What Is Going On? and Why Is is Going On? We need to understand how things work and how to make them work better.

Confidence is key. This was the collective answer to, “What do you look for when hiring young people?” A passion diagnostic exists and we are easily being measured! People will say they are passionate and say they will show they are passionate just to get a job. But people who are genuinely passionate about the job for which they are applying will bleed passion. They will be committed to the mission of the company or organization to which they are applying. When we are interviewing for a job, we must be able to answer this question: “Why is this the right place for you?”

Key characteristics: passion, ambition, a collective mind, and a team player. You can teach someone how to do a job and fill a role, but you cannot teach they key qualities that are important for doing well in your career.

Track people down. Follow up. Go old school. Krystal suggested stalking your potential employer to show them how badly you want in. Learn about the mission and purpose. Show them you did your homework.

Do what it takes to learn. Learn the ropes from the bottom up. [Almost] nothing is beneath you. ALWAYS take opportunities to learn more, even if it means sitting in on some classes or trying to attend events you weren’t explicitly invited to. Experiential education augments formal education.

You are a salesperson. You are selling your most valuable product: yourself. Learn how to sell yourself.

Be intelligent, hungry, and do your homework!

Hearing these four alumni speak was so invigorating. Sociology degrees are not useless! Sure, it sounds like some cookie-cutter advice from a career website… but to know these people were once in my exact position is somewhat comforting. And motivating. I’m trying to get on their level!

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