Alumni Spotlight

What can you do with a Sociology Major? Read what some of our alumni are doing now: Lauren Dinger EC '08, Manager, Tasting Room, Conway Family Wines, Santa Barbara, CA  Andrew Foster EC '07, Digital Marketing Manager, Promove  Lexi Gervis EC '08, Account Manager, Hall & Partners (Market Research Agency), New York, NY   Ian Margol EC '13, Reporter & fill-in Anchor, KKO NBC 11 News in Grand Junction, CO   Liz Melia EC '09, School Turnaround & Improvement Initiatives Budget & Data Manager, Denver Public Schools,   Alexi New EC '13 Atlantic Media, PR/Communications Fellow for AtlanticLIVE (The Atlantic;s events division).

Lauren Dinger

Lauren Dinger

Graduated in May 2008

Current employer and job title:
I work for Conway Family Wines (www.conwayfamilywines.com) as the manager of the Deep Sea Tasting Room in Santa Barbara, CA. I also am in the early stages of launching a website (www.winebarbiz.com), which will focus on strategies for starting and running a successful wine bar business.

How has Sociology and the classes that you have completed helped you with your career?
The Tasting Room in which I work constitutes a complex social organism. Each day, I interact with an eclectic mix of customers that I must quickly try to assess. My goal is not only to sell my product, but to ensure a positive tasting experience and to create the type of environment in which customers feel welcomed and valued. In order to be a good salesperson and to deliver optimal customer service, I must determine the needs of my clients, on a one-to-one basis and on a more collective basis. My education in Sociology made me better appreciate the importance of reading social cues and trying to understand people -- both as individuals and as part of larger groups. 

My training in social science also taught me the importance of data driven decision making. I am constantly experimenting with new promotional campaigns and incorporating new wines and merchandise into the Tasting Room. We use daily and monthly reports to keep track of which products generate the most sales and are ultimately the most profitable. We base our subsequent purchasing and selling decisions on the specific data we generate.

What advice would you give to current majors/minors?
My advice to current Sociology majors and minors is to try to focus on your personal interests and strengths, and from that, attempt to find a job that will encompass both. When I was in college, I thought I would go straight to law school and would, at present, be in the trenches of a legal career. If you had told me I would be working in the Southern California wine industry, I would have said you were nuts! But in a moment (*many moments) of asking myself, "What can I see myself doing on a daily basis that would make me truly happy?" I kept coming back to two things-- engaging with people and discussing wine. I told myself that if there was a way to do that and also to earn a living, why not try? 

Don't be afraid to take a less traditional career trajectory. There are jobs out there that you don't even know exist. Instead of choosing an industry/occupation and trying to "make it work," why not choose what makes you happy and try to find a job that will allow you to do it?

Additional comments:
What drew me to Sociology as a field of study was that it encompasses such a broad range of topics. Even if you aren't quite sure what you want to do after graduation, a degree in Sociology can offer a strong platform that will help prepare you for whatever next step you select. Maximize your time as an undergraduate by pursing your passions and tackling courses that both challenge and interest you. Try to worry less about the "What next?" and instead focus on the "What now?"


Andrew Foster

Andrew W. Foster

Graduated in 2007

Current employer and job title:

Foster Ideas, Owner / Head of Accounts

How has Sociology and the classes that you have completed helped you with your career?
Sociology has provided me with the ability to think critically: I can frame an argument from any perspective and I can scientifically evaluate information. The subject matter of my classes varied (e.g. racial relations, history of education, women's studies) but the discussion always related to demographics. I strategically transitioned my academic studies of demographics into a professional position that enables me to communicate with these demographics.

I finished my MBA in Marketing in 2012. While attending my Marketing lectures, I found I was already familiar with the subject matter, because some reading assignments were borrowed from Sociology and Psychology journals! There is a significant amount of overlap in these disciplines, because they focus on human behavior. 

Sociology has served me well, professionally and otherwise. Human behavior is the foundation of economics, culture, business, politics, etc. Sociology taught me how the world works -- business is my specialization. Sociology is an excellent foundation for crafting well-rounded college graduates.

What advice would you give to current majors/minors?
Begin with the end in mind.Create a long-term plan in advance. In some cases, I may recommend supplementing your Sociology education with an additional specialization, as I did with business.Your long-term plan should inform your decisions.



Alexandra Gervis

Alexandra 'Lexi' Gervis

Graduated in 2008

Current employer and job title:
Employer: Hall & Partners (Market Research Agency), Job Title: Account Manager

How has Sociology and the classes that you have completed helped you with your career?:
I am currently doing Qualitative Research, which I learned about thanks to Emory sociology classes and got practical experience doing when I completed my senior honors thesis.

What advice would you give to current majors/minors:
Having a critical eye and a good sociological understanding can help you in most -- if not all --jobs!

Additional comments:
Seek out people who are currently working to get a better sense of what jobs are out there. I'm doing something now that I didnt even know existed as a job when I was still an undergrad -- there are so many more possibilities, ones you haven't even heard about yet!

Ian Margol

Ian Margol

Graduated in May 2013

Current employer and job title:
KKCO NBC 11 News in Grand Junction, Colorado; I'm a reporter and fill-in anchor

How has Sociology and the classes that you have completed helped you wih your career?
My Sociology classes have been instrumental in my work in news. My ability to understand and connect with people, their cultures and the processes behind creating them has made finding and working through stories so much easier. Also, any time spent with Tracy Scott is time well spent.

What advice would you give to current majors/miors?
My advice would be to enjoy your time in school, it's over way too quickly. When you're looking for a job, don't be afraid to go somewhere where you don't know people, sometimes a new place and a new situation is just what you need.


Elizabeth MeliaElizabeth 'Liz' Melia

Graduated in 2009

Current employer and job title:
Denver Public Schools, School Turnaround & Improvement Initiatives Budget & Data Manager

How has Sociology and the classes that you have completed helped you with your career?
After graduation I joined Teach For America, an experience that launched my career in K-12 Education Reform. My Sociology coursework taught me a lot about inequality and its effects on society, and is one of the reasons I was motivated to apply to TFA. While earning a masters degree in Urban Leadership & Pedagogy, my solid foundation in Sociology was a huge asset in my courses on inequality and the achievement gap. In my current role, I do a lot of research on what strategies are driving improvement in low-performing schools, and am incredibly grateful for the research experience I got in my quantitative and qualitative methods courses, as well as my honors thesis. The ability to design studies and analyze their results is an incredibly useful skill in any sector, which employers often seek.

What advice would you give to current majors/minors?
Take a broad variety of courses -- criminology, Sociology of religion, education, organizations -- I wish now that I exposed myself to more areas of focus in Sociology, especially education! I also recommend getting as much research experience as possible.

Alexi New

Alexi New

Graduated in 2013

Current employer and job title:
Atlantic Media, PR/Communications Fellow for AtlanticLIVE, The Atlantic's events division

How has Sociology and the classes that you have completed helped you with your career?
I absolutely loved being a sociology major. The analytical skills and critical thinking I applied in sociological research and theoretical discussions have proven directly translatable in a work setting. Additionally, my understanding of norms and organizational culture gleaned from sociology courses became vitally relevant when I needed to assess which work environments were the best fit.I knew I needed to work somewhere with a community-oriented culture, and this helped me pick out my current position where office culture fosters team bonding, high-level work, and respect for The Atlantic magazine's brand.

What advice would you give to current majors/minors?
Build relationships with your professors early, and nurture those relationships .Look for connections between what you are learning in class and what you are observing in your personal interactions and in the news or the outside world. Making continuous connections between theory and real life will help you truly get the most out of your learning experience.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions about Sociology at Emory or the post-graduate experience at alexilnew@gmail.com.

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