Tips for Career Readiness

This past week, recent REL grad, Khara Cole (who works for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama), returned to Manly Hall to offer a workshop on careers, resumes, and interview tips. Khara, having graduated from UA in 2013 with a degree in Public Relations and Religious Studies, had a lot to say on the skills she acquired while getting those degrees, and how one can effectively discuss and employ those skills when preparing for a career outside the study of religion. Additionally, Khara gave great advice on how to stand out to employers before, during, and after the interview process.

Here are some of the main take-aways from her REL Careers Workshop… Continue reading

Marketing and the Academic Study of Religion

kharaWhat connects red lipstick, racecars, and health care? The study of religion, of course! (Well, sort of.) Khara Cole, a 2013 graduate with a double major in Religious Studies and Public Relations, has found the skills that she developed in Religious Studies particularly important, as she designs products and their implementation for a health insurance company. She returned to campus last week to talk about her experiences working in the corporate world. The tasks of writing persuasive business proposals and accessible marketing texts clearly draw on her skills that she developed in our classes that emphasized various writing assignments. Solving problems, looking at both the little details and the broader picture as well as the ways different people might respond to the issues, employs the analytical and critical thinking skills that she, like many of our majors, considers a highlight of their work in Religious Studies.

In terms of lipstick and race cars, Khara provided this concrete example of the value of her religious studies major. When Khara began working on her current team implementing new products for her company, she noticed two previous marketing posters, one with a tube of red lipstick dominating the poster and the other with a racecar. Thinking of her first course in the department (Women and Religion with Prof. Simmons), she recognized the gender stereotypes implicit within these posters geared to different audiences and began developing more effective marketing efforts that avoided such gendered stereotypes that would alienate portions of the target audiences. Her story illustrates clearly the relevance of the questions that we often ask in our classes about the ways dominant symbols develop and the groups that those symbols exclude. Looking at those posters with a critical gaze enabled her to consider the ways a range of people might view them rather than accepting the symbolism of dominant stereotypes. In her experience, her skills in critical analysis, therefore, facilitate better marketing and communication strategies. As other graduates have told us, a major in Religious Studies helps students develop skills that provide vital contributions to a range of careers, including business and marketing.

Grad Tales are Back Again!

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The REL Department is heading into November with the startup of A Grad’s Tale: There and Back Again! This series welcomes back UA graduates who have majored in Religious Studies to learn how the major has benefited them in post-graduate life. This year’s first installment begins this Thursday with Khara Cole, so be sure to join us in Smith Hall Room 205 at 6:30 pm!

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Khara earned her B.A. in Religious Studies and Public Relations in 2013 at the University of Alabama. Since graduating, Khara has taken a job as an associate product manager with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee while also pursuing an MBA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She’ll be talking about how the critical thinking skills she learned from Religious Studies are helping her in the business world.

To learn more about Khara or the event, you can view the flyer here.

You can also read a blog post by Khara here, or another one here.

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

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Khara Cole graduated from The University of Alabama in 2013 with a double major in Religious Studies and Public Relations. She currently lives in Chattanooga, TN working as an Associate Product Manager in Marketing/New Product Strategy for BlueCross BlueShield of TN.

If you’ve been on social media at all recently, you might have come across the image pictured above originally posted by a far right conservative group that’s been shared countless times across Facebook and other social media sites. When I first came across this terrible comparison, my critical thinking senses immediately kicked in and I thought why in the world would anyone ever compare these two figures, and what are they trying to say? Not only is this image devastatingly offensive to several communities, it was blatantly obvious that there were major political and totally uneducated implications behind this comparison as well, and I wanted to think it through.

Continue reading

But Don’t They Quack the Same?

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Khara Cole graduated from The University of Alabama in 2013 with a double major in Religious Studies and Public Relations. She currently lives in Chattanooga, TN working in Marketing/New Product Strategy for BlueCross BlueShield of TN.

How many times have you heard someone make the claim “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual”? My normal reaction to this statement would be a blank stare and a gentle nod followed by a topic change; however, I’ve noticed that this particular statement has started to gain momentum as more and more people whether it be celebrities, politicians, or “normal” folk like you and I have bought into the idea that spirituality is something that is totally separate and existent outside of religion. Continue reading