Graduating sociology majors have worked on their resumes and tried to sum up their training for prospective employers. Following up on yesterday’s post on the importance for data in sociology, in my opinion, these graduates should include data collection and analysis in their collection of resume skills. Here are a few reasons why:
- From the beginning of their sociology training, we work to help them observe and interpret patterns in the social world. While there is no single class that does this all at once, the path from beginning to end is full of opportunities both to see how sociologists do this as well as try their own hand at developing sociological arguments. Final papers in any class (as well as other assignments) offer opportunities to practice data analysis and interpretation.
- Sociology majors do tend to have classes explicitly devoted to Statistics and/or Research Methods. For example, while many people think they can put a survey together, it is in these classes where they learn important basics: what sample do you want? How do you ask good questions? How do you report survey data? At the least, these classes help undergraduates know what questions to ask about data collection and analysis and at their best give them chances to practice these skills.
- Organizations – from non-profits to businesses to governments – want people with data collection and analysis skills. Now that it is easier than ever to work with data (though we should not underestimate the value of collecting good data in the first place), how can a prospective employee help the organization understand and communicate what is in the data? In a world awash with data, what do we do with it all?
Undergraduates may be leery of claiming these skills as they do not view themselves as experts and don’t have years of work experience in data analysis. Yet, these abilities are at the heart of sociology and they are skills that are in demand.