December 11, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Alumni News | Conrad Talks about What Can Sociology-Criminology Graduates Do with Degree

A smiling Julie Conrad with blackboard in background

Julie Conrad

By Aissatou Boye ’20

In early November, Julie Conrad ’04 visited campus for the Sociology Alumni Speaker Series. Conrad currently works as an Operational Risk Advisor for Alliance Data and has experience working with non-violent convicted felons and risk management in different departments.

Conrad graduated from Ohio University in 2004 with a B.A. in Sociology-Criminology from the College of Arts & Sciences. Immediately following her undergraduate career, she went to work in her field. Through her various experiences she often asked herself, “How am I using my degree?”

Substance Abuse

Conrad’s first job was working at a facility for non-violent convicted felons who struggled substance abuse. She got firsthand experience working in her field and in a new environment. She shared how she “loved the people she met and came from a non-diverse middle class town with no exposure to these issues.” She stepped out of her comfort zone, learning how people are socialized quite differently. This job also taught her that “there isn’t a stereotypical person who you find on the wrong side of the law” as she met people with diverse backgrounds racially, economically and socially.

Family-Owned Business

The next opportunity Conrad had was at a small family-owned business that specialized in purchasing debt from larger financial institutions. This job taught her how to be flexible and open-minded in a work environment, and the benefits of taking this stance. Conrad stated that she would, “shift and pivot responses and interactions depending on who I was dealing with. When you tailor your communications, it helps you understand people and yourself.” These transferable skills aided her in her next position at Chase.

Risk Management

When Conrad took her role in risk management at JP Morgan Chase & Co., she found herself in several roles that ranged from problem loan restructuring to quality assurance. Having numerous roles showed her that “I can’t be concerned with just going up but focused on moving laterally.” Rather than rushing to advance to a higher position, she learned that by taking different roles and jobs, that made her way more knowledgeable about more topics.

‘How Can I Use My Degree?’

Throughout these differing professions, Conrad constantly asked herself, “How can I use my degree.” She reflected on how every job she had, she actually was using skills she had acquired in her undergraduate career.

“I was still using my degree but in a different manner. I got to listen to different point of views and respect and understand where they’re coming from. You interact with someone you’ve learned about and these interactions are really drawn on education.”

This past summer Conrad started her current role at the Enterprise Risk Organization at Alliance Data. She is applying much of her experience from Chase to advance herself in the field of risk management at Alliance Data. In this role she has learned “there is not a right answer but multiple answers. I have to deduce and use critical thinking a lot in this job.” Conrad enjoys this position because of the problem solving. She has to identify the root of the problem and then the issues that caused it.

Hayes Minich ’19, double majoring in sociology-criminology and forensic psychology, commented, “Too often people close doors for themselves that are easily left open. Ms. Conrad showed us that there are many doors available for students who choose to graduate with a sociology criminology degree. Dr. {Amanda} Cox and Ms. Conrad facilitated a great discussion pertaining to the sociological nature of risk management and future careers. I truly enjoyed tonight’s alumni speaker.”

Some parting advice Conrad shared with the group is that “you may have a plan but it is smart to have a plan B and C. Use your resources to look for different opportunities and if you’re not crazy about it, look for something else.”

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