We chatted with 2003 graduate, Jenny Qin, about her experiences in our department, the impact of her Sociology degree on her career, and her advice for current students. Jenny graduated from the department with an MA in Sociology. Her thesis project was on the effects of cohabitation – unmarried couples living together. She is a Global Vice President at Loparex LLC and recently visited their plant in Iowa City.
Please enjoy the interview (lightly edited for clarity and space).
SH: What are your best memories of Iowa?
JQ: One of my favorite classes was “Graduate Proseminar,” because it was a new way of learning for me. In China, we listened to lectures. At Iowa, we got to speak up and discuss our viewpoints. I still remember my American classmates confidently speaking up and sharing their opinions while I was worried that people would laugh at me. I soon became more comfortable speaking up. It was good practice as I now can think on my feet, form a perspective, and articulate it clearly, concisely, and logically. I remember doing homework with Minglu Wang and Chang Liu at the “computer room” in the basement of Seashore Hall. We were all international students. I was 19 and they were like my big sisters. They made it easier to study and live in a new country. I assisted with social psychology research at the Center for the Study of Group Processes. It is interesting to study people, observe their behavior, analyze it, and draw conclusions. In turn, learning from the findings helps me better relate to people.
SH: Tell us a bit about your career and how your sociology major informs what you do now.
JQ: I am currently the Global Vice President at Loparex, responsible for running the global Tapes and Electronics business for the company based in Cary, North Carolina. After graduating with my master’s degree in sociology, I earned a Master of Accountancy from Tippie College at the University of Iowa. I worked for a few years and then earned an MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia. Then at W.R. Grace and Company, I worked my way up for seven years before joining Loparex in 2018. Sociology, especially social psychology, informs what I do now not only at work but also in my personal life. My first exposure to social psychology was through Professor Michael Lovaglia’s book, Knowing People: The Personal Use of Social Psychology. As he said in the book, social psychology is about knowing people, ourselves, and others. Social psychology permeates our lives every day. It could be writing in my journal about how I could have handled a situation differently. It could be about reading between the lines of what people say. It could be about choosing words carefully to send the message I intend to send. Social psychology is lifelong learning for me in this field.
SH: Lastly, what advice do you have for future graduates from the Department of Sociology?
JQ: My advice is to be fully engaged in your sociology program, whether or not you plan to pursue a career in sociology. Put in your best effort and make excellence a habit. You will be well prepared for success.