What Can I Do With This Degree?
The answers, my friends, are written in their stories, revealed in the community and beyond, and told with pride and pleasure.
Augusta has always been a city for tours. There are the scenic tours (catering to Masters' visitors), historical tours of Olde Towne, sociology tours of deteriorating neighborhoods and toxic waste sites, and deviance tours featuring the Strip and staring the Snake Lady. Perhaps it is time for a another tour, a treasure tour, seeking out former Sociology and Criminal Justice majors working, succeeding, and contributing to their communities in a variety of roles and settings.
Before we begin our local tour, we need to go by the bookstore and pick up scenic (Paine Hall, Benet House, flowers, and THE TREE) "thinking of you" postcards to send to majors no longer in the community. Mail carriers all over the county will learn more about ASU through delivering cards to former students currently enrolled in graduate programs in Sociology, Social Work, Law, Theology, Public Administration (U.MASS-Amherst, University of Kentucky, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Washington University, University of Florida, University of New Mexico, University of South Carolina, University of Georgia). Our graduates get around, and they tell us they are well-prepared for graduate work.
Other postcard recipients (former majors) have left our Fair City, but they keep in touch, telling us their experiences at ASU and their hard-earned degrees in Sociology and Criminal Justice have prepared them to hold positions such as Customer Service Coordinator for the Columbus, GA., Housing Authority, Director of the Rape Crisis Center in Savannah, Program and Clinical Director of the Health Care Services in Mobile. Several have received commissions in the U.S. Army and are now serving all over the world. We salute them in passing. Others are social science teachers, case workers, employment counselors, agency administrators, law enforcement officers, probation/parole and juvenile court officers...and rumor has it...one is a sho 'nuff rural sheriff.
Written communication is fine, but it is time to seek out people still in the CSRA neighborhood. To find some of our recent graduates we need to go to the outer reaches of the CSRA, and it is worth the effort. Not too far s away in Waynesboro, we come upon Dorothy, who graduated in December, 1997, interviewed the week before graduation for a job development position with the fourteen county JTPA program and was hired immediately as director of the entire program. She attributes her success to her wonderful personality and to the knowledge and skills she acquired in organizational theory, community, social problems, research, agencies and services, and methods of social work classes. Close by in Warrenton, we find Emma (easy to find since she is known to everyone in the area) who is executive director of the nation's most successful Quality of Life Agency, running programs for the disadvantaged and writing and receiving large grant awards for expanded services. Mandy, Director of Social Services, is holding down the fort (better known as the McDuffie County Hospital) in Thomson. Mandy's career is not untypical of many of our Sociology (minor in Social Work) majors. As an undergraduate she interned at Blair House Nursing Home. Upon graduation she was hired as Director of Social Services; the third major in a row to move directly from an internship to employment as Blair House's S.S. Director. Mandy later moved to the Senior Citizens Council as a Long-Term Care Ombudsman and then returned home to Thomson to her present position at the hospital.
Combining business (touring) with pleasure (eating), we finally arrive in Augusta for the Ninth Annual Gerontology Dinner where current students in aging cook up a storm and entertain directors of area programs and services for the elderly and former students (more than 40 on the invitation list) working in the field of aging. What a wonderful opportunity to find former students networking, sharing horror stories from their student days and talking about how their internships and course projects opened doors for career opportunities. Social Service Directors and Activities Directors at area nursing homes share experiences with Francis, Administrative Coordinator of First Choice Medical, Sharon, Program Administrator for the CSRA Senior Nutrition Program, Cathy, Bereavement Counselor with St. Joseph Hospice, Jerry, Director of Residents' Services (elderly and disabled) for the Housing Authority, Jenny, former Administrator of Sunrise Personal Care Home (private sector) and currently Senior Rights Coordinator for the Area Agency on Aging, and Gwen, one of several former students employed as case managers for Care Management, Inc. Christine, outstanding Sociology Senior once upon a time, is waited on by current students anxious to secure internships and possibly employment (died and gone to heaven) opportunities at Brando Wilde where Christine is Director of Social Services.
Andrea tells about interning with the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Service, falling in love with the program, serving as a volunteer until a position opened, and now enjoying employment as a full-fledged Ombudsman, directing a special grant project investigating unlicensed personal care homes. Christine, Supervisor for Adult Protective Services, Department of Family and Children Services, swaps stories with her current intern. Linda, new Director of Kelly Assisted Living, receives congratulation on her promotion; and Lisa explains what is involved in being the director of a private benefit eligibility program. The others are too busy eating and "mixing and mingling"--two things our majors do extremely well-- to talk to wandering tourists. So we move on.
A policeman's lot may not be all fun and feasts--more likely coffee and do-nuts, but locating our many former majors working in the areas of law enforcement adds a note of "right stuff" to our tour. Recent graduates can be found serving as Sheriff's Deputies in Richmond and Columbia Counties (Bruce just whizzed by on his bicycle doing community policing.) and Police Officers in North Augusta (different cities, different titles), probation, parole, and juvenile court officers, and supervisors at Youth Detention Campus. They have a promising future ahead of them as visits with out not-so-recent graduates working in law enforcement reveal. Many of our majors are now Majors and Captains, running programs, supervising criminal justice interns, and making policy. They have, in other words, learned how to "define the situation" and act accordingly, understanding group, organizational, and community dynamics. Incidentally, we drive very carefully during this part of the tour. What could be more tacky than getting ticketed by a former student? Really!
Other very recent CJ graduates and those soon to graduate have completed successful internships where they impressed their supervisors with their research and computer skills as well as their knowledge of the field of criminology and are waiting, with high expectations, for positions to open in the almost-completed Federal Prison in Edgefield, in the Department of Natural Resources (game wardens--great for students who love the outdoors, like to work on their own, and can handle receiving a boat or two when they start work), and with the G.B.I. They can take heart from the experience of Terrill who left his heart at Pardons and Parole when he completed his internship. At that time, the Program was not hiring (known as The Freeze for good reason), and Terrill found employment as a Substance Abuse Counselor at Community Mental Health. Come the thaw, however, he was the first hired as a parole officer...and came by the Department to say, "I just want to see your face when I tell you I got the job...I am going to be a Parole Officer."
Since that time, other graduates have followed Terrill into Pardons and Parole and some are making contributions to Substance Abuse programs and Community Mental Health. While the majority of our majors are working for the state and federal government or for private, non-profit organizations, several have found excellent jobs in the private, for-profit sector, working in human resources, human relations, marketing, and in Environmental Services at the Savannah River Plant. One operates her own industrial cleaning service. Others have completed graduate programs (usually the MSW) and are now School Social Workers for Richmond County Board of Education, Program Coordinator at Georgia Regional Hospital, Director of the Family and Parenting Resource Center, Ob/GYN Social Worker at MCG, Counselor at Children's Place, Aiken, or in private practice (therapists and counselors) as Licensed Clinical Social Workers.
Where are our majors? They are everywhere. Unfortunately, this treasure tour must come to an end, and we have not even visited: Barbara, a pre-school counselor for Columbia County Board of Education; Charlotte, assistant director for CASA; Chris, director of public relations for University Hospital; Cassandra, Family Self-Sufficiency Program at the Augusta Housing Authority, Kathryn in Public Relations at the Medical College of Georgia; Robin, newly appointed Community Resource Coordinator for Section Eight Housing Project; and the ASU/SOC group within the group at Safe Homes and Domestic Violence Intervention Center--Annette, para-legal program director, Mae, outreach worker, and Elizabeth, director of children's program. One thing we know for sure, this tour is just a beginning.
We must plan another tour and do it soon.....maybe with pictures of graduates in their natural (work) habitats....maybe with quotes and more stories, certainly, with mention of more graduates, here and there....where they are and what they are doing. We may even, being who we are, talk a bit about patterns and trends, and you can be sure we will work in the sociological imagination.
In the meantime, let us hear from you.
- Go to the ASA (American Sociological Association) web site and click on Publications. You will find listings of useful publications to order on such topics as Embarking Upon a Career With An Undergraduate Degree in Sociology, Careers in Sociology, and Liberal Learning and the Sociology Major.
- If you are interested in employment with the State of Georgia (Merit System), make a note of the following information sources:
- Careers with the State of Georgia: Information for Applicants, pamphlet which outlines Georgia Merit System processes and includes section of Continuous Recruitment Job Titles---available at ASU Career Center or through the Department.
- Special Recruitment Job Titles comes out every Friday with new, specific job openings listed every week. Applications for those vacancies are usually accepted during a one-week period. Available in Augusta at State Labor Department Field Service Office (706-721-3131), on the Internet, follow the above link; or you may call Application Services Information Line at 404-656-2724, 24 hours a day.
- The Job Site locate a State of Georgia government job vacancy
- State of Georgia Application for Employment (form MS27-1), available at ASU Career and Placement Center. Can also order copies by calling 404-657-1164 or through the Internet at by clicking on the link above.