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A degree in Sociology?

#1 A degree in Sociology?
20/01/2008 21:18


I have a decentish skill based cv, but it also has 'sociology' on it. I'm not from Oxbridge. Should I even bother?

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#2 RE: A degree in Sociology?
20/01/2008 21:32

why to sociot0ol (#1)

why sociology? why? it is not even a recognized social science subject is a dying subject...why not economics or psychology? Do a masters in something decent

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#3 RE: A degree in Sociology?
20/01/2008 22:16

sociot0ol to sociot0ol (#1)

I was hoping for more of an adequate response.

Well, unless you're going to expand and argue that History (or Psychology) is more relevant to the area of MC than Sociology.

A BA is a BA.

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#4 RE: A degree in Sociology?
20/01/2008 22:28

TB to sociot0ol (#3)

Many IBs say that they may recruit people with degrees even in sociology. The thing is that when you are called for an interview they'll start asking you DCF, Multiples and so on..

But you wanna know something about consulting.. As you probably know, there is no specific course of study for MC.. You just need some familiarity with basic business concept and a lot of common sense.. Depending on the quality of your BA some firms may actually take into consideration your application. However, since you are not from Oxbridge I think you chances are very slim.

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#5 RE: A degree in Sociology?
20/01/2008 22:52

sociot0ol to TB (#4)

Thanks, fair enough.

The actual question is not whether I will be able to impress the daddy during the interview, or if a have a certain skillset, but will my application be looked at something less worthy just because it has 'sociology' on it? Se-eeeee.

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#6 RE: A degree in Sociology?
20/01/2008 23:27

ma student to sociot0ol (#5)

yes in a word, but of more importance is the University you studied at.

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#7 RE: A degree in Sociology?
20/01/2008 23:28

Anon to sociot0ol (#5)

Ok, first off, let's establish a few things.

Which uni did you go to?

What's your extra-cirriculars like?

Work experience?

Pre-uni grades.

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#8 RE: A degree in Sociology?
21/01/2008 10:30

sociot0ol to Anon (#7)

I'm a second year stude a '1960s university' (so basically, in a process of applying for some work experience).

I didn't do A-levels and there's no exact British equivalent, but I guess I can play this card as a triple A.

I used to run a business during my gap year (not selling t-shirts; a Samsung sponsorship at one point).

I'm fluent in three languages, able to speak five (that includes Chinese and Russian).

I successfully manage my own fxtrading account (not quite relevant, but hey, not everybody does)

No related work experience and the usual EC university set (clubs, socs, etc; I also run one).

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#9 RE: A degree in Sociology?
21/01/2008 12:53

PhD, Sociology to sociot0ol (#8)

I think you rightly note that a BA is indeed a BA. It's how you package what you learned that matters (and speaking as former lecturer, most undergraduate degrees are much of a muchness vocationally speaking).

Contrary to assertions to the opposite, sociology is far from dying or useless (and yes, I hold degrees in sociology through a PhD.) Evidence to this effect is pretty much everywhere from undergraduate admissions numbers to the latest data from the Academy of Management that shows sociology articles are the most cited across contributions to their four journals (ahead of more "useful" subjects such as economics and psychology). Of course there is also the anecdotal data I provide as employed MC in strategy at a Big Four firm.

I'm assuming you had some exposure to research on organisational life and research methods as an undergrad, which are directly applicable to most MC roles. Vocational skills aside, the real thing most employers are after, though, is your ability to think, reason, problem-solve and get along with your colleagues and clients. Focus on your skills across these areas and away you go.

Hope this helps.

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#10 RE: A degree in Sociology?
21/01/2008 14:05

mmm to PhD, Sociology (#9)

my girlfriend did sociology. i'm breaking up with her this week.

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#11 RE: A degree in Sociology?
21/01/2008 15:02

Mars A Day to mmm (#10)

It begs the question - what degree/s are even more useless that Sociology?

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#12 RE: A degree in Sociology?
21/01/2008 15:31

confused to Mars A Day (#11)

I'm confused. Is this something to do with L Ron Hubbard and Tom Cruise?

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#13 RE: A degree in Sociology?
21/01/2008 15:35

Mars to confused (#12)

There was a Cult of Sociology but it disbanded because no one turned up to meetings - they were all too busy analysing why people form Cults in the first place (and probably couldnt find the meetings anyway).

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#14 RE: A degree in Sociology?
21/01/2008 16:01

hardhead to Mars A Day (#11)

Sociology always gets it in the neck for some reason.

Many people sit on trains in awe of the statistics that this subject throws out, but when its on a CV we gasp. Why did he not choose history? Why did the candidate not read something directly relevant to the banking sector, like ermm, Physics?

I read several Social Sciences at University (including Economics, Philosophy, Psychology) but never Sociology.

My Professor explained it to me once. 'We do not do that subject here', 'too many statistics...they never explain why or how'.

So when people even vaguely suggest in interview that my degree may have involved Sociology, I have to shake my head wildly and wail 'no not very much like Sociology at all'.

It actually included one chapter in one book.

If they ask if my degree was a bit like PPE at Oxford, my head nods proudly 'Very much like that!'.

Well its about selling!

It's ironic that MC's like stats, almost as much as Sociologists. For transferable skills you couldn't ask for a better non-cognate applicant, but in terms of employability for Sociologists? Well it does get some funny looks.

A rhetorical question (dont answer unless you did Sociology I'm trying to shape how people think!) :

Does anyone know the % of future employers in Society today that would employ a Sociology graduate?

(Definately, Might Do, Not Likely, Never, Don't Know)

Better questions might be: Why are Sociologists not more highly valued by MC recruiters? And following the thread above: How can they make themselves more employable?

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#15 RE: A degree in Sociology?
21/01/2008 17:19

sociot0ol to hardhead (#14)

I would think that since there are no AAA Sociology courses, for the vast majority of its readers it's harder to surmount the infamous hurdle of recruitment.

Basically, a BA stands for the ability to write a proper text (period). A 2:1 in Sociology, Philosophy, History, Politics, Classics, English represents the same skillset.

So if Modern Languages are perceived to be so academic and employable, how come I'm not a standout?

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#16 RE: A degree in Sociology?
21/01/2008 17:22

why to hardhead (#14)

Does anyone know the % of future employers in Society today that would employ a Sociology graduate?

(Definitely, Might Do, Not Likely, Never, Don't Know)

I have no data and do not have time to search google. However in an IT/MC Consultant work environment over the last 6 years I have not met anyone who studied sociology. I think subconsciously most employers relate sociology with social services/voluntary work/not for profit organisations and indeed I think there is a greater chance to find sociologists in these settings.

Better questions might be: Why are Sociologists not more highly valued by MC recruiters?

Assumption: MC Job

Important job requirements: Ambition, driven by money (lets not kid ourselves), Quant/Qual skills (Problem solving)…who’s got a better chance an economist or a sociology graduate? (Assumption: Graduated from the same Uni/Same degree classification and..have the same level of interpersonal skills).

Moreover, the application of maths/stats penetrated Economics/Psychology much earlier than Sociology (I do not know of any Sociologist who can build multiple regression models). Sociology depends a lot on outdated theories and is littered with Normative statements thinking. The sociologist’s mind is conditioned with judgment based thinking on a very broad range of issues…

The economist is thinking about rationale of choice, scarcity, opportunity cost, equilibriums of supply/demand and might be even able to use mathematical notation to bring a situation/problem in context and establish some variables that may help to predict outcomes if the model is stable enough and backed up with credible data…In sociology you argue with this theory and that theory and you might pull out a survey in between….

Even Psychology has become much more science based (Biology, Stats) and some elements of neuropsychology that aim to understand decision making are used in econometric models.

This is evidence that everything is interconnected really. However, you need to have a solid grasp of maths/stats in combination with common sense…There may be very bright sociologists, but I have never met one in business (Except the PhD Sociology chap on the thread) …

The truth is that there is no single subject that can offer the “magic bullet”….However, personally I would rather prefer someone who studied a Science based subject rather than an Arts degree

How can they make themselves more employable? Hmmm…I think it is a dying subject…If you have to study it, than only in Oxbridge/LSE

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#17 RE: A degree in Sociology?
21/01/2008 19:41

sociot0ol to deleted (#0)

As I recall from an event I've been to last year, a bunch of sociologists work for Deloitte (strategy).

1-1 then?

I'd definitely take you more seriously if you were to support that "it's a dying subject and not a social science anymore" claim with something heavier than "I think".

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#18 RE: A degree in Sociology?
21/01/2008 20:30

Jimbo to sociot0ol (#17)

Going back to your initial post I would say you should bother.

If the rest of the information you provided can be packaged into a masterpiece cv then you should get some response.

I think in some ways I have a similar background (A-level equivalents abroad, good marks but different system), Russell uni, social science BA, interesting start up business.

I secured interviews from all the top brass, bain, McK, tier 2 MCs, deloitte/pwc strat, etc but didn't make it through second rounds. Doesn't say much about your chances but I would give it a go.

The only things I would say are, focus on your extra-cv stuff, talk about your business, write an impeccable cover letter where required, come out with a first, secure some big brand (FTSE 100 or relevant service industry) work experience for this summer.

Alternatively try smaller/focused outfits that require some of your language skills.

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#19 RE: A degree in Sociology?
22/01/2008 12:18

Little Bopper to why (#16)

I disagree with much of the berating of sociology here. It is most probably based on actual little knowledge of the subject and instead based on it's bad reputation, of which some truth can be found.

One of the problems (or strengths?) for sociology as a subject is perhaps it has no clear identity. It has a diverse substantive focus and no set methodology. So perhaps an umployer sees sociology on a CV and it's essentially an "unknown". All they know about it is its reputation, which is essentially a "doss subject", as it is seen by many.

Although I disagree with this claim, there could be some truth in it. In a recent book on the state of the subject (see ) it is shown that the average A-level grades of the sociology undergraduate has steadily declined over the years. This means that the average sociology undergraduate is likely to have worse A-levels than the average graduate. Thus the courses offered are likely to be of worse quality as they are attracting lower quality students, which in turn reinforces the stereotype of the sociology undergraduate.

The fact that most BA sociologists would have poor A-levels excludes them from MC altogether. It has less to do with the subject, but more to do with the people that do it. Many are probably attracted to it thinking it's easy, but quickly find out it's not.

However, it is not all doom and gloom for the sociology undergraduate. Technically, most MC firms are not supposed to bother about the subject of your BA. What's more important is your A-levels and what university you went to, and of course extra curricular stuff too.

Sociology from a top university (e.g. LSE, Cambridge or Oxford - which offers sociology courses to PPE students and graduate sociology degrees) would actually be very beneficial to MC firms, but they perhaps don't realise it, so you have to flag up the important skills you learnt during your degree.

There are two main skills, I would say. The first is in terms of structured thinking as sociology involves theory to explain behaiour, the second are quantitative skills, as contrary to what "why" says, sociology is in fact highly quantitative.

1. Structured thinking:

- You would have learnt problem solving, as you get a puzzle (e.g. why are divorce rates declining given less stigma attached to it?)

- Hypothesising e.g. less people get married so less people divorce or it's perhaps it's harder to get divorced now

- Thinking critially, question assumptions

- choosing between alternative explanations based on evidence

2. Quantitative skills - those who know a bit about social science will know there are two main methodologies - qualitative and quantitative. I would flag up your quantitative skills. That is not to say that qualitative skills (e.g. interviewing) are useless - far from it. It's probably just that quantititative skills are scarcer. And you will be more experienced with computer software than the average economics undergraduate, who will mostly dwell on theory and not touch more of the empirical stuff as a sociology undergraduate.

"why" obviously does not know what s/he is talking about when s/he mentions "I do not know of any Sociologist who can build multiple regression models". This made me laugh so hard. Sociologists' methodology is on a par with empirical economics, and in many instances outpacing it. Sociology has always had stronger empirical tradition than economics. Sociology actually grew out of economics.

Finally, it must be mentioned that there are many sociologists in business schools, as there work has been recognised as important (not just in terms of OB).

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