Careers

Overview

Students who major in sociology enter a variety of occupations. The career options that connect most clearly with the skills and objectives of our major include those in social services, community organizing, education, human resources, and social science research. Students entering these and other fields take with them our program’s dedication to understanding the enduring inequalities in contemporary society, and the potential for social change. One cannot be a responsible citizen and leader in our society today without understanding the effects of race, social class, gender, and many other axes of inequality.

Like other liberal arts disciplines, our program in sociology gives students opportunities to develop skills in critical thinking, written and oral communication, and a global perspective. Our department also provides discipline-specific training in social science research and understanding of social structures and institutions necessary for responsible leadership.

Our alumni have successfully transitioned directly into the workforce after college, in a wide variety of careers in for-profit, not-for-profit, and government agencies. In addition, our graduates have successfully gone on to graduate programs in Sociology, Social Work, Law, Business, and many other fields.

Alumni Profiles


Abigail Dean Rollins College Sociology Alumn

Abigail Dean ‘05

What was your graduation year, major/minor? Other notable Rollins details (extracurriculars, athletics, etc)?
I graduated in 2005 with a major in sociology. One of the highlights of my Rollins experience was a semester-long internship with Groundwork UK, an environmental non-profit organization in London.

Can you briefly describe your current career and your path to it since your graduation from Rollins?
As an attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Denver, Colorado, I help implement and enforce the nation's environmental laws, like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. I also serve as an environmental justice coordinator supporting the agency's mission to protect communities most vulnerable to pollution. I worked in the non-profit sector after graduating from Rollins and then lived abroad in New Zealand before attending law school at Florida State University. I chose FSU because of its strong environmental law program and my internships with government and environmental organizations during law school cemented my interest in the field.

In what ways has your Rollins Sociology degree influenced your career and life post-graduation? How has it enriched or informed your life and career after college?
Studying sociology at Rollins fundamentally altered my worldview and I continue to view life and work through a sociological lens. For example, I am in a better position to understand the larger social and economic drivers of environmental harm and how those forces influence individual behavior. I also learned important critical thinking and analysis skills in college, which were immensely valuable in law school and continue to benefit my legal practice every day. Perhaps most importantly, my professors at Rollins inspired me to go out into the world and try to effect positive change.

Any words of wisdom for current Sociology majors?
I took a variety of interesting classes while at Rollins. Although the varied coursework prevented me from earning a minor, the exposure to different academic fields helped me assess what careers I did and did not want to pursue. I would also recommend taking advantage of any opportunities to gain real world experience in undergraduate or graduate school. My internships and externships benefited me personally and always seemed to stand out to potential employers. Finally, don't be afraid to go after your dream job. I landed mine so it's absolutely possible!

Lisa Begley Rollins College Sociology Alumn

Lisa Begley ‘05

What was your graduation year, major/minor? Other notable Rollins details (extracurriculars, athletics, etc)?
Sociology Major, Women’s Studies Minor
Women’s Soccer- ’02 and ‘03
Founder, Rollins College Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance
Dominican Republic service-learning trip
Organizer, Rollins College Violence against Women Awareness Week
Chi Omega Sorority

Can you briefly describe your current career and your path to it since your graduation from Rollins?
I am the Project Director at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc, in my hometown Houston, Texas.

During my senior year winter break and summer after graduation, I interned at a charity foundation of a hospital system co-writing a research paper on uninsured communities in Houston. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005, I was hired through a short-term grant to represent Planned Parenthood to Katrina relief organizations and efforts in Houston.  Concurrently I enrolled in graduate school at the University of Houston earning my Master’s degree in Sociology in 2008. 

After graduate school graduation, I applied for a full-time position as a Project Manager at PPH.  I only knew I wanted to work at PPH and applied for the job position that was open.  I trained under a Vice President at PPH, constructing new health care centers around Houston.  After she moved on from her role several years ago, I was promoted to Project Director managing building and renovating health centers across our Gulf Coast service area.  Ten years after Katrina devastated the City of New Orleans, in 2016, I opened a new health care facility there.  It is projected to serve around 10,000 women and men in that community. 

I also provide data analysis for the organization.  I produce reports from our EMR (Electronic Medical Records) system and perform projections for specific scenarios.  I have a stronger interest in working in statistics and demographics than health center construction projects and I am working towards developing that area of my professional skills.

My long-term goal is to continue fighting for gender equality by increasing access for women’s health care and family planning.  Choosing whether and when to bear children is essential in creating economic independence for women.  With the ever-changing political landscape and the direct attacks on Planned Parenthood, I am not sure where my long-term job will be, but I plan to always work towards gender equality in some organization.

In what ways has your Rollins Sociology degree influenced your career and life post-graduation? How has it enriched or informed your life and career after college?
Rollins College contributed immensely to my developing and shaping my worldview.  Growing up, I was influenced by my socially-activated family, but college forced me to become an independent analytical thinker. Understanding the power of the environment and systems we live in was critical. The rigorous reading and writing assignments, particularly in the latter two years of college, helped prepare me for intense grad school courses and ultimately professional work. My favorite part of being a student at Rollins was the access to professors and their commitment to my academic success. I remember learning how to avoid regurgitating other people’s ideas, and the importance of formulating and expressing my own.

Any words of wisdom for current Sociology majors?
Work hard and be good to others.

Devon Collins `05

Can you briefly describe your current career and your path to it since your graduation from Rollins?
After graduation, I sought a career in the nonprofit sector and was incredibly fortunate to find myself at a start-up focused on elevating the voices of troops who had served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars at a time when their perspectives were woefully underrepresented. After 10 years with the organization, it had grown to become the leading organization for post 9/11 veterans. In 2016, I joined a private foundation that’s tasked with establishing top-quality, no or low cost, outpatient mental health clinics for veterans and their families.

In what ways has your Rollins Sociology degree influenced your career and life post-graduation? How has it enriched or informed your life and career after college?
My degree in Sociology greatly influenced my career choices. I did not enter College, or even declare my major, with any specific career path in mind, but as I entered my Senior year, it was clear to me that what I would find most fulfilling was a mission-focused career. Late nights, demanding deadlines, and high-pressure responsibilities are all in service to a deserving population, not a bottom line, and it’s that motivation that keeps me going.

Any words of wisdom for current Sociology majors?
While I do think this has evolved from when I graduated, there does remain a misconception that you can’t make a rewarding and fruitful career in the social justice/non-profit space.  A new breed of social profit and nonprofit organizations have emerged that recognize the value of their human resources and operate much like a high-functioning, innovative, business with a mission-driven purpose. Don’t let your vision of the older generation of traditional, under-resourced, and bureaucratic nonprofits deter you from pursuing that career path.

Also, save your books! I recall the sheer joy of lining my pockets with book buy back money at the end of each semester, but I often find myself referring back to my theory books and especially some of my favorite fiction books from various Sociology classes that have been marked up twice over, so resist the urge and hold on to them. 

Kiristin Kendrick ‘15

What was your graduation year, major/minor? Other notable Rollins details (extracurriculars, athletics, etc)?
My graduation year was 2015, and my major was Sociology. I was involved with the Off-Campus Student Association as an officer and secretary during my junior and senior years.

Can you briefly describe your current career and your path to it since your graduation from Rollins?
I am the Elevation Fellows Program Assistant at The Burnett Honors College at the University of Central Florida. I work with Title 1 first generation high school students of Orange County, who aspire to attend college. Under the Elevation Fellows Mentor Program, I match Honors students from The Burnett Honors College with these high achieving students, to act as a sort of mentor and guide to the college application process. I started in this position on September 26th, and I recently got accepted into the Educational Leadership MA at UCF.

After graduation and before this position, I was an AmeriCorps member - Pathways to Success, which was being a mentor to Orange County Title 1 high school seniors in danger of not graduating. I was a member for the academic school year 2015-16, and our team helped raise the graduation rate from 33% to 89% within the academic year. While working with these students, I found that I enjoyed implementing a post-secondary plan for first generation students. My long term goal is to create my own mentor plan that involves college students mentoring students from freshmen year to senior year, to make them better prepared for life after high school.

In what ways has your Rollins Sociology degree influenced your career and life post-graduation? How has it enriched or informed your life and career after college?
Having a Rollins degree has opened doors for me. I tell students that there is a benefit to a liberal arts education - you're able to develop a broader knowledge, and you gain the ability to argue, to think about the world in a different way. Sociology only broadened that knowledge tenfold. Working with the population I am right now, I understand how their situation is, and how going to college and gaining an education will improve their lives, as well as the lives as their families.

Any words of wisdom for current Sociology majors?
For current sociology majors, I would say this: being a sociology major allows you to go into multiple fields that aren't social work and education. The positive thing about a liberal arts degree, especially a sociology degree, is that you have the ability to go into different careers that you will be able to draw from the core concepts you learn in class. Also, being out in the real world isn't so bad! :)

Department of Sociology
Rollins College
Cornell Social Sciences Building
1000 Holt Ave. - 2761
Winter Park, FL 32789
T: 407.646.2670