“What Do I Talk About At the Job Interview?”

Photo of a job interview

I’ve written a number of blog posts over the years about the skills that students in the academic study of religion acquire. It’s worth thinking about because too many people seem focused only on the content of an undergrad degree, assuming that the thing that you study is the thing that you’ll do.

It’s an effect of the longstanding professionalization of the university, of course (whereby specialties once reserved for separate, two-year colleges or tech schools moved into the university and became degree programs, thereby lending undergrad the feel of job training), with a big dollop of the 2008 financial/housing/job market collapse thrown in for good measure. Add to this declining state support for public universities (whereby a significant portion of the costs of higher ed have been transferred from state coffers to individuals’/families’ bank accounts) and you understandably arrive at a situation where many have trouble understanding doing an undergrad degree in some wide or general topic that might not have many obvious or direct paths to a steady pay check.

But this isn’t just a problem for Religious Studies, for one would be naive to think that all those English majors become English teachers, right? And it’s not like History majors all become historians — whether that means going on to graduate studies to become history professors or getting jobs with historical preservation societies or wherever else an historian might work.

But it’s still worth being an English or History major, right? Continue reading

Back to the Basics

skillz

We’ve been working for some time, here in REL, to shift attention from the data to the skills — did you ever notice how our Department logo steers clear of a kaleidoscope of world religions symbols and, instead, focuses firmly on the place where we do our work?

Alabama logo

That wasn’t an accident. Continue reading

What Remain Constant

zakaria

Whatever job you take, the specific subjects you studied in college will probably prove somewhat irrelevant to the day-to-day work you will do soon after you graduate. And even if they are relevant, that will change. People who learned to write code for computers just ten years ago now confront a new world of apps and mobile devices. What remain constant are the skills you acquire and the methods you learn to approach problems.

– Fareed Zakaria
In Defense of a Liberal Education (2015: 78-9)

What’s the Point?

15628288442_6ec7bf0571_zAs discussions about the relevance of what we do in religious studies, and academia in general, have become more common lately, my own emphases have coalesced around the skills that the humanities help scholars (whether students or faculty or interested blog readers) develop. And that emphasis on skills is not limited to our work in the classroom.

Continue reading

It’s Not Always About Credentials

googleofficesOne of our faculty posted this article the other day — “Why Google doesn’t care about hiring top college graduates” — and I thought it worth re-posting here. In the article, Google’s head of people operations, Laszlo Bock, discussed the qualities that the company seeks in people they hire: “And increasingly, it’s not about credentials.” Continue reading