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Alternatives to getting a Phd?


jim1986
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Hi Everyone. First time poster here. I'm guessing this kind of topic probably comes up a lot, but I would greatly appreciate some advice here. I've found myself in the typical chicken and egg experience situation. I recently received an MA in Applied Sociology with a concentration in Research Methodology. I was also a research assistant during this experience. I decided that market research was my ideal field. I took a marketing class, gained some limited experience working as a field research assistant for a market research company, and have been really trying to land an entry level job as a market research analyst/assistant somewhere. I have sent my resume and cover letters (after having spent countless hours critiquing/editing them) out to hundreds of employers (including universities for Research Assistant positions, where my academic experience may be more applicable). I have come to a point where I just don't even know what to do anymore. I got a BS, asked a professor what to do with my life and was told to go to grad school. I did that, thinking I would have gained the experience I need to land a job that will pay enough for me to start paying off my crippling student loans. Nope. I've missed the deadlines to apply to get into a phd program for this fall, so I'll have some more time to toss out more job applications, but I'm guessing that I will likely be laid off from my temporary job, and remain unemployed as employers continue to overlook my qualifications because I don't fit their exact niche. 

 

I asked my professor from grad school if he had data pertaining to what other recent graduates in my program were doing, and how they fared in the job market but he said for the most part, he did not have access to that information. 

 

Here's my question: What on earth have people with sociology degrees been doing with them? Should I opt for the phd program and hope that some future publications (provided I am accepted) can finally lead to my first real job? If so, is there a certain path/field I should look into whilst doing so that will increase my chances at finding steady work? 

 

What about an alternative path? Should I just keep plugging away at employers? Should I spend more time searching in certain sectors such as non-profits? Should I take on the dreaded unpaid internship, or find any way I can to gain valuable research experience? I'm to a point where this whole process has been stressful due to the uncertainty involved in career preparation. I feel like educators never really told me how to make use of my knowledge, and I don't want to end up just another phd candidate, once again competing with hundreds of others, many of who are just as, if not MORE qualified than me. What should I do here guys? By the way I appreciate anyone and everyone taking the time to address a young and almost clueless recent graduate's problems. 

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Applying for a job with the US Census bureau is always a great alternative to getting a phd. I've been to several info sessions regarding it in the last few years, and from what I understand, if you've taken four statistics classes you are pre-empted out of some of the census training requirements. I think they're hiring right now anyways. Also, many census workers work from home one day a week and there are great benefits.

I don't work for the census (I'm trying to get into a phd program), but my mentor's son does and he loves it!

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Thanks Prone. I have looked into employment with the CB, but that was a while ago. What do you mean by info sessions, and how would I go about attending one? Are there details listed on the website? 

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Info sessions are something that the career center at my school hosts, so I don't know if the CB does anything like that on their own. I'm sure they have a career coordinator or someone you could contact if you're interested. I've heard that they are really looking to expand.

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