Karen E.

Karen E.

Class: 2011
Current Position: Data Analyst, Amsterdam

I graduated from the University at Buffalo in December 2011 with my bachelor's in sociology and economics. Since then, I’ve graduated with a master's in demography and sociology from Pennsylvania State University before moving abroad with my partner last year.

At the time, I chose sociology as I enjoyed the central questions at the heart of sociology that allowed me to dive into the context surrounding decisions, rather than the decisions itself. Similarly, I liked how sociology taught me about other people and cultures.

My most memorable experiences involved collaborating with a faculty member doing research on Japanese families as well as doing an independent project under another professor’s guidance. I already enjoyed learning about statistics, but doing real research showed me how much more I could do if I combined my love of exploring human behaviors and their contexts with a solid knowledge of statistics.  I’ve used my sociology degrees to pursue both these areas in my master's and current work. I would recommend the UB Sociology program as the faculty in sociology was always friendly, gave me opportunities that I could not find elsewhere at UB to pursue independent research, mentored me, and encouraged me to go further.

I think sociology really complements a wide range of majors, including the “hard” sciences. There’s a high demand for people who are skilled in terms of the approaches used in the social sciences and methodology, statistics, and programming.  These areas are increasingly overlapping with each other in the Data Science world. More generally, the critical thinking taught in sociology and courses about cultural differences can be applied in a wide variety of contexts. For prospective students considering sociology as well as current students, I would encourage them to take additional statistics/data mining/methodology classes because understanding statistics opens up a lot of doors after graduation. I work a lot with Big Data and I definitely see this as an area that sociologists seem to excel within.