| Piet in de Pauze #1
I think everybody that studies sociology recognizes the questions. ‘But what can you do with it?’ ‘Can you actually get a job with that?’ ‘Shouldn’t you do something actually useful?’
We’ve heard them all, and they will continue to plague sociology students until the end of time. (Or until the cult of the individual finally decides to die a slow and painful death.) Last time this year I saw friends starting their theses and slowly turning in their final exams at the UvA. The perspective that in a year’s time, I would eventually have to graduate and either have to choose a master’s programme or think of something else to do sent me spiralling into a mild existential breakdown.
At the beginning of my sociology studies (and after a brief stint in Human Resource Management) I was filled with naïve idealism. The question what to do after sociology was an open ended one with no definitive answer. So, the logical conclusion was just to keep studying and do a PhD! I was sure that I was going to solve some big relevant problem like climate change or do some ground breaking research on populism and get a tenured position at a well known university and not have to worry about finding a job ever again.
The reality of this has turned out to be less comforting. The realisation that I’m probably too lazy and not smart enough to do a PhD came first. The knowledge that I don’t actually like speaking in front of groups and suck at explaining theory to others slowly emerged after.
Looking at what kind jobs sociologists get does not fill me with hope. I’m too socially awkward to interview people, so journalism is off the table. I don’t have the attention span to sit at a desk longer than 30 minutes so writing isn’t going to work, and I’ve got too much of a conscience to go back to HRM. I usually bluff my way through statistics, which means anything even remotely analytic is going to be way over my head. And in the sociology program we get one semester to do something outside our regular course load.
It’s already a year later and I’ve decided to put my thesis off for a year. 30 EC within six months to explore other disciplines and try to find something that matches with my personal interests seems just a bit on the small side. And while the career path of the ‘eeuwige student’ isn’t as viable nowadays as it was thirty years ago, it might not be that bad to stick around just a bit longer. Even though the student life has been hollowed out and is harder and with stricter consequences than ever nowadays (thanks neo-liberalism!).
I’ll keep my cheap student housing, Ome DUO loans and shitty university coffee at the UvA for just a bit longer. After all, it seems like it’s all downhill after graduation.