January 16, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
The University of FindlayWebsite
Dr. Louis Stulman Ph.D.: First, let me say that, like many fields of study, it has been quite challenging for graduates in biblical studies to enter the job market during the pandemic. However, many undergraduates in biblical studies continue their education at seminary in preparation for careers in church-related professions. Others do graduate work for the M.A. and Ph.D. in preparation for teaching positions in colleges, universities, and seminaries. Some do both: they pursue a M.Div. degree, which is the basic degree required by many denominations for ordination and ministry, and a Ph.D which is a prerequisite for teaching in higher education. I should say that still others enter the job market directly and well prepared due to their strong humanities education, which focuses on writing, critical thinking, and understanding diverse religious and cultural traditions, as well as their work in the major, which concentrates on interdisciplinary skills, reading texts proficiently, and engaging in questions of meaning, morality, and service.
Dr. Louis Stulman Ph.D.: All of these skills stand out on resumes as well as language proficiency in Hebrew for reading the Old Testament and Greek for reading the New Testament, as well as community service, strong interpersonal skills, and travel and cultural immersion experiences.
Dr. Louis Stulman Ph.D.: We often tell Religious Studies majors to build bridges wherever they find themselves, including and especially their local communities, but at the same time, not to hesitate to venture beyond their "comfortable worlds" to unfamiliar places inundated with needs.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Kenneth Coley: In our field of religious education, we see trends that are unique to the pandemic and the ripple effect as people consider returning to church. Consistent with every generation of local church ministry pastors and leaders must be passionate about their calling to serve God and His people, have a strong understanding of Scripture, and a servant's heart to shepherd God's people. In the current season these professional and personal qualities need to be communicated digitally and virtually, and this isn't going away.
With many community schools closed, parents are anxious to have their children welcomed back to church in safe environments. Many families will select the church that best meets the needs of their children and teens. Many people are looking for ministers to lead groups who can assist members of their community in serious need of basic food, shelter, and academic tutoring. And with many people being isolated there is an increased need for counseling for both individuals and couples. (Unfortunately, some are predicting an increase in divorce and abuse.)
Kenneth Coley: As is the case in any generation-does your resume reveal that you love God's church and His people? Serving. Leading. Teaching. Witnessing in your community and internationally. In a paid capacity is preferred, but even in a volunteer position. Now enter COVID...can you do this creatively? Are you an effective communicator in writing, on camera, and in virtual groups? What technology training do you have?
Effective teaching skills are crucial especially when it comes to engaging group members. As people return, we are seeing an incredible hunger to reconnect with other believers. Teaching that includes engagement and collaboration is essential.
Kenneth Coley: Our Doctor of Education students are having great success at getting positions in higher education, particularly in Online Instruction. Colleges, universities, and seminaries of all sizes are hiring teachers who can be Subject Matter Experts, Instructional Design planners, and teachers who deliver the lessons. Another growing area of opportunity is private schools in locations where public schools have closed their buildings and gone 100% virtual. We are hearing that these schools are experiencing strong increase in enrollment and hiring teachers and administrators.