Undergraduate Alumni

Why Sociology?

Sociology provides an intellectual background for students considering careers in business, social services, public policy, government service, international nongovernmental organizations, foundations or academia.

I loved studying sociology at Stanford because the concepts were applicable to anything I was interested in.
Michelle Goldring
Sociology BA '10, MA '11, Associate, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

Michelle Goldring (BA 2010, MA 2011)

Associate, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

First job after graduating: Technical Support Analyst, IXL Learning

I loved studying sociology at Stanford because the concepts were applicable to anything I was interested in. From family dynamics to work culture to political history, sociology helped me understand how systems worked and influenced the world around them. I particularly enjoyed Professor Rosenfeld’s class on The Changing American Family, and the process of writing my senior thesis; it was exciting to get to apply all of the theory I’d learned to a subject that mattered to me. Since graduating from Stanford, I worked at a small company in the Bay Area before going to law school and am now an associate at a large law firm. Sociology still helps me understand how my organization works and how my clients work. It gives me a lens to think about their concerns, and the ways my role and organization may be shaped to accommodate new developments and needs. 


Cory Quinn (BA/MA 2010)

Business Affairs Manager, Apple

"I really loved how well-balanced Stanford’s sociology programs, both undergraduate and graduate, were. They offered a wealth of interesting courses and research opportunities, many of which I still rely on today. The classes were small, and professors were always working on something cool that they’d love to share with you. Some of my favorite courses were Sociology of Gender, Sociology of Law, The Urban Underclass (or any #Rosenfeld class, haha), and Topics in Economic Sociology. I’ve been working in marketing at Apple since graduating, and my formal training in sociology makes working in a need-to-know office environment more rewarding than I could have ever thought possible. Seriously, going to work is like stepping into a field experiment on a daily basis, and the methodological skills I learned have helped me with everything from crafting narratives and building marketing campaigns to managing people and solving interpersonal conflicts."


Cheryl Pruce (BA Urban Studies, 2008, MA Sociology, 2009)

Program Officer, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation

"Growing up in a highly segregated area of Baltimore, Maryland, I spent a lot of my time at Stanford trying to understand the intersection of poverty, education, and race relations. Rebecca Sandefur’s Law and Society introseminar and Michael Rosenfeld’s Urban Underclass and Changing American Family courses changed the trajectory of my academic journey at Stanford, and my professional life after. What I loved most about these core-shaking classes was that they highlighted ways in which our society creates and maintains inequality, and then does a really good job of either blaming those who have been marginalized, or whitewashing history so we don’t hear their stories. For me, sociology classes brought out the truth: the painful truth of our racial and economic hierarchy. These classes taught me how to be a critical thinker, read arguments and figure out what makes sense, and how to analyze data in ways that would allow me to add my own voice to the discourse.

After graduating, I spent several years in the education policy research world in Washington, DC. I thought a lot about how we make sure that low income youth people have access to high quality educational opportunities and educators. I came in with the quantitative data analysis skills to be a strong value-add to my research teams. As I grew professionally, I came to learn that one of my strengths is helping organizations make sense of data to drive strategic planning and action. I am currently serving as a program officer at a foundation, where I support organizations who are trying to make the world better. My understanding of complex social issues, and how inequality operates on institutional levels, is critical in influencing the direction of the grant making we do.

Bottom line? Take all the Soc classes you can. Uncover all the ugly truths about our society. And then spend every day of your life trying to create a more just and equal society. GO!" 


Alex Topacio (BA 2012) 

Consultant, The Boston Consulting Group

For me, the highlight of the major was learning to how to bring together both data-driven quantitative analyses and qualitative observations about the social world. Understanding the power of these complementary approaches was a critical learning for me and was one of the most gratifying intellectual experiences I had at Stanford.

These skills come in handy on a daily basis in my current role as a management consultant. At the core of my job is the ability to combine both quantitative and qualitative analyses into recommendations that enable senior managers of large companies to make better business decisions. Being able to take data, understand it’s implications, and weave it into a compelling narrative is a skill that I began developing in the Sociology major and has become a critical part of my professional skill set.