Seanette Ting: Putting Her Sociology Major to Work

It’s not unusual to hear the following question from undergrads: “How can sociology help me get a job?” That’s a fair question. Indeed, in discussing this very question with some of our recent alumni, I’ve heard two common answers. On the one hand, the sociology major provided them with research skills that are marketable in the current economy. On the other hand, the major provided them with critical thinking skills that have helped them succeed (and advance) in their careers.

Seanette Ting Soc Major, Class of 2014

Seanette Ting
Soc Major, Class of 2014

Here’s what Seanette Ting (Class of 2014) had to say when I asked her some questions.

What’s your current job?

I am an assistant buyer for Neiman Marcus.

Have the knowledge and skills you learned as a sociology major translated to your current job? If so, how?

Absolutely, being exposed to the luxury world, and driving the business behind it, forces you to think about what social constructs affect “luxury” itself. The analytics that go behind every buy is incredible— but to me, it’s even more interesting to think about what influences those sales. I am fascinated by the socialization of luxury. What makes things coveted? What qualifies them to be expensive? How is a brand strategically positioned in a wide retail environment to stand out? I use sociology everyday to understand better the social constructs behind what drives this, and I truly think it’s my passion for sociology that make me a more thoughtful and informed assistant buyer.

What drew you to majoring in sociology?

I enjoyed taking Culture and Society (SOC 221) and became fascinated by organizational culture and how companies motivate their employees. Work culture and norms greatly affect our work and how invested we are. They can also reinforce the strength of traditional gender roles, and knowing the theory behind them significantly shaped how I view work-life balance today. I also learned a lot about modern society in another class, Mass Media and Social Influences (SOC 343); it really cemented for me the importance of understanding how people use technology to send widespread messages that, for better or for worse, influence our worldviews. We’re shaped by it every day.

What did your honors thesis address? How did you do it (e.g., methods) and what did you find?

Seanette Investigated the Impact of This Show on Court Proceedings

Seanette Investigated the Impact of This Show on Court Proceedings

Because we live in a world where mass media and especially television greatly influence our perceptions, my honors thesis explored the perceived consequences of the “CSI Effect” [e.g., expectations regarding the ready availability of forensic evidence] and how it affects the courtroom. By employing semi-structured, in-depth interviews of district attorneys, I found consistent patterns that prosecutors and judges strongly believe the CSI Effect impacts juror expectations in the courtroom. What was interesting was that though there was little evidence that it significantly affects verdicts, it was noticeably affecting legal actors’ behaviors in the courtroom in anticipation of the CSI Effect. In my results, though suggestive, I found that at least some prosecutors are changing their persona and presentation in the courtroom to mimic those on television, creating their own “dramatized” cases. Therefore, we are led to believe that it is possible the CSI Effect not only affects juror expectations, but attorney behavior as well.

What broader lessons did you learn while working on this thesis?

Working on a thesis trained me to stay committed to a long term project and to spearhead an investigation from start to finish. Pick a thesis advisor you trust because, over the course of the year, they’ll become your guide in more than just thesis work — I still miss weekly “touch-bases” with Dr. Tracy Scott. And pick a research question that truly fascinates you, otherwise staying disciplined will be a battle! I thoroughly enjoyed the process, and I learned you really can enjoy your work if you follow you head and heart to what you’re passionate about — a lesson that landed me my dream job.

Southeastern Undergraduate Sociology Symposium — A Great Success in 2016

Emory Sociology was a hotbed of activity this weekend (Feb. 19-20, 2016). Young scholars from around the region came to our campus to participate in the Southeastern Undergraduate Sociology Symposium, affectionately known as “SEUSS.”

The theme and logo for SEUSS 2016.

The theme and logo for SEUSS 2016.

We’ve had the pleasure of hosting SEUSS for 34 years, along with our esteemed colleagues at Morehouse Sociology. Alternating each year, one of the departments serves as the organizer and gathering point for SEUSS. This year was our turn, and next year will be Morehouse Sociology’s turn.

The symposium got off to a roaring start on Friday night. Following an hour of tasty food and conversation, our own Dean Robin Forman offered a thoughtful presentation. Not only did he talk about the unique contributions and strengths of sociology as a discipline, he also made clear an important point: sociology is something that is learned not simply by absorbing material in the classroom, but rather, by doing it — engaging in theoretically-informed and empirically-rigorous research. Our keynote speaker for the evening, Dr. Barret Michalec, demonstrated that point to perfection.

As an alum of Emory Sociology, earning both his BA and PhD here, Barret compellingly laid out his intellectual journey, doing so in a conversational way rather than a jargonistic way. In essence, he addressed how he developed answers to two broad questions: Why is the world the way it is and how can we make it better? His particular foci revolved around empathy — namely, how it is that medical curriculum and training tends to reduce empathy in medical students and how interventions in that curriculum and training can reverse that tendency. This matters because those physicians that remain relatively more empathetic than their peers are also ones who have higher job satisfaction, higher evaluations by their peers, and lower levels of malpractice difficulties. Befitting the collegiate athlete he was, and the marathoner that he now is, Barret energetically took the audience step by step through his evolving answers — prowling back and forth across the stage (if not daring the audience to fall asleep!).

A SEUSS presenter in action.

A SEUSS presenter in action.

The energy carried over from Friday night to Saturday. We had concurrent sessions, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, in which undergraduates presented their own sociological research. These sessions drew upon 48 paper presentations of students from 14 different institutions of higher education. Their papers dealt with core issues in such areas as crime and criminal justice, education, family, healthcare, media and sexualities. Their papers also represented a multitude of theories and a healthy range of methodologies (both qualitative and quantitative). The presenters that traveled the farthest were from University of Notre Dame and Centenary College of Louisiana. Throughout the day, these students gave Barret a run for the money in terms of their own enthusiasm. And, as Dean Forman would appreciate, they all made clear the importance of doing sociology.

Enthusiasm on display at SEUSS.

Enthusiasm on display at SEUSS.

The success of SEUSS 2016 is due to the efforts of many people. As a result, I want to give a shout-out of appreciation to this year’s co-organizers, Dr. Karen Hegtvedt and Dr. Sonal Nalkur (both of Emory Sociology). Thanks also to our own Brandon Mitchell for all of his logistical support. Thanks to the Emory Sociology graduate students who served as session moderators. And, of course, thanks to the mentors and advisors who worked closely with the students that participated in SEUSS.

More enthusiasm on display by presenters and moderators

More enthusiasm on display by presenters and moderators

Finally, I want to give a shout-out of congratulations to the following scholars. Their papers were selected by a committee as the best of those entered into the SEUSS 2016 paper competition.

  • First Place: Xueqing Wang, Emory University; “The ‘Wealthy High-Flyers’: Media’s Framing of Chinese International Students in the U.S., 2009-2015
  • Second Place: Naveed Noordin, Emory University; “How Does Satisfaction with GP Appointment Wait Time Correlate with Overall Satisfaction with the NHS?”
  • Third Place: Phyllis McDaniels Morton, Coastal Carolina University; “State-of-the-State: The Effects of Race and Socioeconomic Status on Educational Achievement and Attainment in South Carolina”

    SEUSS 2016 Award Winners (from left to right): Naveed Noordin, Xueqing Wang, Phyllis McDaniels Morton

    SEUSS 2016 Award Winners (from left to right): Naveed Noordin, Xueqing Wang, Phyllis McDaniels Morton

On to SEUSS 2017 at Morehouse Sociology!