Giulio from Loyola University New Orleans asks:
“I have a masters in Criminal Justice and will have a Masters in Theology soon – What kind of careers can I pursue with my education?”
Thanks for your question, Giulio. In simple terms, you can pursue lots of different paths in virtually any career, but especially in religious studies and theology. It is quite rare that having a particular major means that you can only do one or two jobs. Having coached many thousands of clients over the last decade, I can tell you that many, especially college students, have a limited view and understanding of width and breadth that most majors offer in terms of various career paths.
Consider also that the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found through its annual job outlook survey that employers value that recent college graduates possess three attributes including leadership, teamwork focus, and communication skills. Knowing what employers in today’s job market value is powerful information.
There are a number of things you could use to figure out where to start your career in religious students and theology including a few resources that follow in this post.
Use “What Can I Do With a Major In…?”
Utilize the online resource, “What Can I Do With a Major In…?”. This resource will help you map out all of the various options aligned with your major. You’ll see that there are literally hundreds of different job types you can pursue within this field. Once you find your major within this resource, click on it to learn all of the different areas aligned within your major (Religious Studies). The search will show you the various areas aligned with the major along with the types of employers who hire and strategies of how to land the job. It is a great resource to help you gain a better understanding of all of the options and job types tied to this major.
Talk with Your Professors
Make sure to get to know your professors, especially those in theology and religious studies. Take advantage of their office hours by visiting occasionally as needed to ask for their advice and guidance. If they get to know you, they might be willing to serve as a mentor, or at the very least, offer valuable insight and advice along with introductions to contacts in your desired field (theology/religious studies) that can be a springboard to landing your first job in your field. Lastly, these individuals may be willing to also serve as a professional reference by receiving calls and / or emails from prospective employers as a part of a background check during the hiring process.
Contact Your Career Center
Most colleges and universities offer career preparation services to recent graduates for at least a year after graduation at no cost. Simply put, students should leverage their career center as it is a student resource. College career centers are staffed with knowledgeable, skilled, and credentialed professionals who can provide assistance in a variety of areas including resume review, interview skills training, job search strategy, and more. Furthermore, they likely have a job site exclusively for current students and recent alums featuring jobs posted with the institution. Lastly, these professionals may be able to refer you to recruiters who work with their office too. Contact your career center soon.
Conduct Informational Interviews
Identify individuals who are already doing the type of work you aspire to do and contact them to line up an informational interview. Individuals, especially those working in your desired field, are the greatest resource to help you advance your career. Connecting with established professionals in your field through an informational interview can allow you to get some great advice to help you build your career plan. Who better to be talking to than someone doing what you’d like to do?
Informational interviews can be conducted in person, via telephone or Skype, via email, or anywhere someone can provide you with meaningful advice. Develop a list of questions to gain the information / advice you are seeking, but let the conversation evolve through a relaxed, spontaneous discussion. Be respectful to honor the time frame the individual has allotted. Lastly, send a thank you note after the information interview to thank them for their time and professional courtesy.
Network, Network, Network!
People hire people, not computers. We need the help of others to succeed both on the job and in life. Networking (engaging with people) is, was, and will always produce the best results. Embrace saying hello to others, while reconnecting with people you already know. One of the first things you should do is let all of your friends, family members, and connections know exactly what you are looking for and that you’d be grateful for any assistance that they can offer to you. While many may not be able to help with a job lead, these individuals can offer tips, leads, introductions, referrals, and more that can be a stepping stone to landing the job.
Make sure to grow your circle of influence and network by attending community events. Join professional associations in your field to connect with others in your field. Utilize LinkedIn to grow your virtual network, find posted jobs, connect with recruiters, further your value proposition through skills endorsements and recommendations, and join industry related groups.
Join Professional Associations
Another way to build your network, reputation, and circle of influence is to join a professional association in your industry. This is a great way to connect with leaders in your industry and learn of employment opportunity. Most professional organizations post their available positions through the association’s website or possibly through word of mouth at meetings. Don’t just become a member and do nothing either. Get involved and volunteer for a board or steering committee. This will provide you with the opportunity to showcase your skills and ability to produce results.
Putting It All Together
Your major/degree would allow you to pursue numerous career paths within theology and religious studies. Make sure to utilize the many resources to conduct research to determine which path is best for you as a starting point. These resources include your professors, college career center, network connections, professional associations, and more. It can be overwhelming when you don’t know what is out there. With a solid plan, you’ll be able to figure out where to start your career. You’ve got this, Giulio!
Good luck and best wishes!
Here’s to your success,
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