The largest portion (37%) of undergraduate sociology students in that period, graduated in BA Corporate Communication, with BA Journalism being the second most popular degree. The degrees BA Marketing Communication, BA Audiovisual Communication, BA Psychology and Industrial Psychology, BA Information Science students, and BA Human Resource Management were, however, also popular among sociology students.
All UJ’s former postgraduate sociology students believe that sociology has been useful to them. They use the skills acquired by studying sociology on a daily basis in their individual careers. Half of the postgraduate respondents found the skills acquired in the masters-level methodology course as most useful of all their sociology skills, while the rest highlighted other sociology courses as important to them. Knowledge of how to conduct research and of research methodology were most helpful in their careers. Students who received their postgraduate degrees in Industrial Sociology praised the Labour Relations courses. Some former students explained that sociology was very useful in understanding race, culture and gender issues within their specific fields. Lastly, sociology solidified the analytical and argument formulation skills, as well as the ability to write reports, that some former students found particularly helpful.
Of the group of former undergraduate Sociology students, a considerable 83% believed that Sociology is still useful to them in their current careers. In this group, the majority named analytical skills acquired through Sociology as useful. According to them, sociology has taught them to become critical thinkers in their everyday life, as well as in the work environment. Another popular response to this question was that the respondents felt that they had learned a lot about the inner- workings of group dynamics in different contexts. Another benefit of sociology is the amount of experience and training that one gets in the field of research. Furthermore, sociology increases one’s writing skills, according to the respondents. Respondents also felt that sociology gave them the ability to understand human behaviour and that it has improved their people skills. A number of students also believed that sociology has made them more aware of cultural, race and gender issues which are necessary in certain professions. Finally, some respondents felt that sociology was useful in the sense that it addresses organisational behaviour and interpersonal communication which proves to be important in their careers.
The study also aimed to determine the different sectors in which ex-sociology students work. The positions listed by the postgraduate respondents range from research manager, market researcher, project manager to human resource manager, public relations officer, and management consultant. Some professions that were listed by the former undergraduate participants include human resource managers; market researcher; media analyst; teacher; public relations officer; journalist; account executive; recruitment agent and strategic planner.
When asked about the process of looking for employment, respondents said that employers look for experience in their field and for people with a relevant degree or qualification. Some respondents mentioned that employers prefer candidates with a postgraduate degree. Employers apply affirmative action. They also look for enthusiastic workers who work well under pressure.
Overall the ex-sociology students in both the postgraduate and undergraduate groups felt that sociology was useful to them in some form or another. It was clear that the department’s research incentives were praised highly, and that these skills can be utilised in various different fields. On numerous occasions the participants claimed that sociology has made them more critical and analytical thinkers, which is a clear benefit in their careers or business.