One of the wonderful realities about Grinnellians is that their careers are often unusual, and their career paths are often divergent. Here are brief descriptions of a few of the career paths taken by our sociology majors. I'd love to hear about other careers and career paths taken by other majors: just email (email@example.com)!
Anthony Weeks '91, after graduating from Grinnell, earned an MSW and began a career in clinical social work. After pursuing that career for a number of years, he shifted direction. In addition to working as an illustrator, Anthony participated in a 1997-98 Coro Fellow in Public Affairs, an intensive, experiential leadership training program, which helped prepare him for working in San Francisco as an "information designer." In that role, as reported in an agenda for a 2008 conference by IFTF (the Institute for the Future), Anthony worked with leadership teams and C-suite executives to illustrate their conversations around product, strategy, and organizational design. In real time, during group conversations, Anthony listens to the content and draws out, literally, the main themes, relationships between ideas, key questions, and storytelling metaphors that emerge.
Anthony took a sabbatical from this work in 2006-2007 to earn a graduate certificate in documentary media studies from the New School in NYC and then earned an MFA in documentary film and video from Stanford University. As part of his studies at Stanford, Anthony directed a documentary film, "Imaginary Circumstances," which he describes "Imaginary Circumstances" as "a short documentary video that explores the representation of disability in entertainment media, both past and present. Within the 'Imaginary Circumstances' of fictional Hollywood TV and film, the performance of disability on screen refers to social realities. Frequently, though, the lived experiences and unique perspectives of actors with disabilities are excluded in the representation of disability on screen. Through performance, interviews, observational footage, and commentary on archival clips, three actors with disabilities currently working in the Hollywood entertainment industry address the authentic representation of disability in the media as well as the ongoing struggle for access and inclusion."
"Imaginary Circumstances" has won numerous awards, including an Oscar Silver Medal in the 38th Student Academy Awards in the documentary film category! You can watch Anthony's short but intriguing documentary at: http://www.bestfilmoncampus.com/ filmmaker/default.aspx?filmmakerID=3764.
Anthony notes these careers do share some common paths: "My careers as a social worker and illustrator have been instrumental in shaping my ability to listen and look. Documentary filmmaking has been delightful because it compels me to do both in an intentional and meaningful way."
Stephanie Jaros '99 left Grinnell planning to earn her PhD in Sociology followed by a career with the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit. Specifically, she was interested in the ways people concealed their crimes. Not three months after graduation, she left this goal behind after talking with a friend about AIDS, drug use, and unwanted pregnancies. In 2000, she earned an MA degree in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago based on her research on men's experiences with abortion. Six years later, she followed that degree with an MA in Sociology, a Minor in Social Statistics and a Certificate in Women Studies from the University of Washington (UW). Along the way, she conducted research on behalf of several organizations, including a trial consulting firm in Chicago; the Battelle Center for Public Health, Research, and Evaluation; UW's Center for Workforce Development; and Stanford University's Bipolar Disorders Clinic. Also in 2006 she earned a policy fellowship with the National Academies and spent a summer working for the Committee on National Statistics.
This fellowship taught her about opportunities outside academia and her interest shifted to careers at research institutes, think tanks and government agencies. In 2009 she earned a Presidential Management Fellowship, and, although she was offered two positions in the health and human services field, she turned them down to work as a Behavioral Research Specialist, Office of Internal Affairs, US Customs & Border Protection. Here, she researches employee corruption, including the ways in which people conceal their crimes.
Carly Parry '94 received a joint doctorate in Social Work and Sociology (Health, Illness and Aging) and an MSW from the University of Michigan. Carly began her career by moving from the Midwest to Denver to become an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Health Care Policy and Research at the University of Colorado in 2002. Her research focused on three areas in psycho-oncology: 1) quality of life outcomes in cancer survivors; 2) the role of lifespan development in psychosocial well-being after cancer; and 3) the design of multi-disciplinary interventions to support psychosocial adjustment after cancer. She also served as the Dissemination Lead for the Care Transitions Program, a nationally and internationally adopted intervention program to support quality transitional care in individuals with chronic and complex health conditions.
While in Colorado, Carly continued her interest in art and had a part-time private practice using complementary and alternative medicine approaches. Her pre-doctoral work included intervention design/implementation and community organizing and fundraising in the nonprofit arena in domestic violence and women's health.
In February of 2011, Carly moved to Washington, DC to join the Office of Cancer Survivorship, in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, of the National Cancer Institute (try saying that fast five times!), as a Program Director. In this position, Carly has the opportunity to champion the science that she has helped to build during her career, promoting better quality health and psychosocial care for cancer survivors through the development and delivery of improved systems interventions and models.
Emily Larson '01 was a Grinnell Corps Fellow in Namibia in her first post-Grinnell years. When she returned to the US, she took various jobs, including working as a "prospect researcher" for a telecommunications company. Motivated by those experiences, she enrolled in the Master of Public Policy program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the U. of Minnesota. During her studies, she worked as a research assistant for Minnesota FoodShare, a program of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, and interned with the Office of Economic Opportunity within the Minnesota Department of Human Services.Shortly after earning her MPP degree in 2006, Emily took a position as an analyst with the Government Accountability Office, the GAO, in Washington DC. She is now a Senior Analyst on the Physical Infrastructure team where she leads a project on intelligent transportation systems. She has worked on reports and testimonies for Congress on a variety of issues, such as federal land stewardship, college student health insurance, the financial health of the US Postal Service, the use of Recovery Act funds in New York state, and excess federal buildings. The varied work of GAO has familiarized her with various parts of the government and led her all over the country, from visiting subway projects in New York City to land sales in Nevada and traffic management centers in Austin, Texas. Here's a link to one of the reports she has worked on, about college student health insurance: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08389.pdf .
Delphia Shanks '01: "I stayed in Grinnell for a year to do GrinnellCorps, and then did TFA in Baton Rouge and was recruited out of the classroom in my 3rd year to help form a new division in a book distribution company that focused on Title 1 schools. I was there for almost a year when an amazing position opened up at a community action agency in NW Missouri.
The only reason (I might add) that I got an interview was because of the research I did with Professors Hunter and McClelland on MICA, and although I was the youngest and least qualified applicant, the combination of that paper and my ability to talk about what I learned and the fact that I had worn a suit to the interview (apparently I was the only one? I thought everyone did!) landed me the job.
Over the next five years, we grew substantially from about $700,000 to over $2 million a year. At the same time, I was able to oversee the planning and implementation of the ARRA grant that our agency received through the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG). That was a difficult contract to administer because of the capacity required to plan, oversee, and implement the programs, but also because there was lots of turnover at the state level so our instructions changed a lot. The position was really stressful, and at some point a friend challenged me to list the things that "fed" me about my job and the things that "drained" me. I was shocked when I did the inventory; almost everything that "fed" me was outside my job description: all my state and national work, the public speaking and workshops, the strategic planning and fun stuff like creating new tech systems for handling increased client volume. It was all helping me stay in a job that I was actually pretty ill-fitted for (management and planning ahead to organize the task loads of multiple people in different locations are not my strong suit).
So began a nearly two year process of reflection and meditation, dreaming, prayer, reading books, and talking with Grinnell alumni about what they did and what the possibilities in the future would hold. I am still really proud of the fact that I actually followed through with going to grad school because it was a hard decision to apply, and much harder to see the application process through, and looking back on what I know after having been in grad school for a year, I am really lucky that I got in! My essays were clearly from a practitioner's point of view, and I lacked the complex sentence structure and word choice common to other essays and academic writing.
So here I am, at Cornell in the Policy Analysis PhD program, having finished a year (and it was a really hard year!) and getting ready to start another year. It's funny to be in grad school for me, because I feel like so many of my colleagues are here because it is a step on their professional path and I'm here because it is my path in a very profound and personal way (not that it is not for them also--but you rarely learn these things about other people in grad school unless you're very close). (Yes, I feel incredibly cheesy writing that statement, but I'm just going to write it and own it because it also feels very true!)
I am really hoping to go on to a position at a foundation, think tank, or evaluation provider so that I can use my skills but also be involved in discussions about 'big ideas.' My primary research interest stems directly from all my professional experiences: organizational capacity affects policy outcomes and much of policy analysis focuses on individual outcomes of policies with little regard to how the policy was written to support (or not) the capacity of the implementing agency to achieve the desired impact/outcome. So I am very interested in how ideas about funding diffuse through and gain legitimacy in the funding world, and the impact that those ideas have on the structure and capacity of funded organizations."
Alison Williams '03 graduated as a sociology major, but spent lots of time dancing at Grinnell. Right after graduating with her elementary certification, Alison moved to North Carolina to teach second grade at the Peeler Open School for the Performing Arts in Guilford County. She realized she had to follow her passion for dance after performing in three productions for The Community Theatre of Greensboro and so she went back to graduate school. Alison graduated in 2009 with her master's degree in dance choreography and performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Alison still loves working with children, but now she does it in a different capacity. Alison currently choreographs and performs for eight theatre companies and schools in North Carolina. Alison has studied trapeze and Skinner Releasing in Seattle, Washington and Istanbul, Turkey, aerial silks in Charlotte, North Carolina, and world dance (including Samba and Manipuri) in New York City. She is a 200-hour registered yoga teacher through the Yoga Alliance, has a group exercise certification from The American Council of Exercise, and has been a certified Zumba instructor and member of the Zumba Instructors' Network for five years. Alison has kept the liberal arts alive learning new things and pursuing her passion!
Currently Alison is an aerobics instructor with a YMCA, and is the office manager and a teacher at The Dance Center of Greensboro. Moreover, Alison recently accepted an adjunct faculty position teaching dance at Guilford College, a Quaker school in Greensboro, which, Alison says, "reminds me sooo much of Grinnell!"
Natalie Lehman '02 translated her love of sports (especially baseball) into a job: she worked initially as a personal trainer at Bally Total Fitness, moving, after two and a half years, to become an operations manager at Sports Authority. More recently, she translated the managerial and administrative expertise she had developed in her first two jobs into a third, and has become a Senior Managed Care Administration Analyst at Target Corporation. Natalie, like many of our alumnae, has focused on personal service work, but unusually has done so in the for-profit sector.