From community and service professions to business management and education, a degree in sociology can be quite practical for a number of careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most sociology jobs for San Francisco students require a minimum of a master’s degree. Nevertheless, the overall job outlook for sociologists is projected to grow much faster than the national average. In considering a career in sociology, there’s nothing much better than receiving expert advice from someone highly respected in the field, such as Lynne Fingerman, M.S.W., Co-Founder and Director of Adoption Connection, headquartered in San Francisco.

(Photo Courtesy of Lynne Fingerman, M.S.W.)

(Photo Courtesy of Lynne Fingerman, M.S.W.)

What is your background and education?

“My career started while earning my B.A. in social sciences from UC Berkeley, volunteering in underserved East Bay schools. After receiving my M.S.W. from the University of Wisconsin, I became a school social worker, working in policy for the Massachusetts State Developmental Disabilities Department, and, subsequently, as a mediator for children’s special education services. Back in the Bay Area, I began, and served as director of, a federally funded program at Berkeley’s Center for Independent Living, which taught elementary school children about disabilities, as the first step in mainstreaming disabled children into schools. All of this, plus the experience of becoming an adoptive mother, then led me to found and become director of Adoption Connection.”

How does the Adoption Connection program work?

“Making sure babies are happy: Adoption Connection’s program, and why I created a model for identified agency adoption where birth mother and adoptive parents select one another. Now a nationwide standard, back in 1985, open adoption was revolutionary, and we continue on this path of changing adoption to ensure everyone can make the right choice.”

What career advice can you share to sociology students?

“My advice: Get experience. Work a few years before graduate school. Social work still provides an opportunity to make a difference in many ways, in many different populations, developing countries or U.S. communities. Experience helps clarify the path you take. I focused on program development, after realizing this area would let me help make systemic changes. Experience also helps you know how to educate, counsel and support, as well as frame the ethical, situation-based decisions that make a real difference in people’s lives.”

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.

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