When sophomore Sociology and French double-major Christopher Persuad was first applying to colleges, he wasn’t sure what field he wanted to go into.
“I applied to ten schools for undergrad, and I picked a different major for each,” said Persuad. “For Temple, I was originally a biology major, but at orientation, I changed to neuroscience, then I changed from neuroscience to sociology in my first semester.”
Now a sophomore, his growing passion for sociology has led him to success in many areas of his life, including being accepted into a prestigious research program.
As an honors student committed to his education, Persuad spent the last semester enrolled in an independent study with a sociology professor. However, when trying to make plans for his summer, he wanted to invest his time in applying his research skills to a professional opportunity.
“[I applied] because I wanted to see if having a research career was something that I wanted to do with my life, and I wanted to have experience in terms of research in a higher level institution,” said Persuad. “It’s a good idea to assess what you are actually interested in as opposed to what you think you are interested in, which can be two very different things.”
Persuad began looking for research opportunities this past winter break, and applied to four programs – The University of Chicago, Temple University, Columbia University, and Harvard University.
After weighing the pros and cons of each program, Persuad chose to work with a cultural sociologist at Harvard University for eight to ten weeks starting in May.
“The work [the cultural sociologist] does right now is the sociology of higher education and cultural sociology relating to race and immigration, which are things that I am interested in,” said Persuad. “I will be housed on Harvard’s campus for free and I am being paid a stipend for the summer.”
According to Persuad, it is important for students in all majors to take on research and internship opportunities in preparation for life after graduation.
“[Research opportunities] are a good way for students to get experience that can be applied to other jobs, especially qualitative methods,” said Persuad. “You can learn statistics, how to analyze data, and how to conduct surveys which are all useful [for] a social science or liberal arts major.”
Professional opportunities can also help a student if he or she is interested in applying to graduate school.
“It’s a resume booster and it prepares you for the rigor of graduate work,” said Persuad.
For students hoping to follow in his footsteps, Persuad offers advice towards getting started earlier rather than later.
“Start [applying for research opportunities] early, and know that your personal statement is very important.” said Persuad.