Religious Studies - From Classroom to Career Senior Year
Capstone Courses/Independent Study
Use the Capstone Course to integrate what you have learned and reflect upon how you have grown at Fairfield and where your path will lead you next. The course is usually a chance to also sharpen research skills, strengthen any Portfolio, and make fresh connections among courses and experiences.
Religious Studies majors have access to a developing range of internships with public and private agencies available to all Fairfield students in good academic standing. Recently, a student was placed with the Institutional Review Board of Bridgeport Hospital, which provided the basis for the study of the protection of human subjects in biomedical research.
You can earn academic credit for two, three-credit internships before you graduate. Use your internship to try out careers, sharpen your resume and cover letter, develop a portfolio, make contacts, and take classroom skills and apply them to the professional world. (Left: student interns from various CAS departments interning in Bridgeport city government; pictured with Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Fr. von Arx.)
Talk to professors about possible graduate school work. Talk to favorite professors about possible research projects you might do with them.
As Commencement nears and your job hunt picks up, what materials can you put in a portfolio to market yourself and help show your experience? Create a blog or e-portfolio to both present your best work (essays, research papers, work done through a campus club, internship or summer job) and to offer reflections on them. Your faculty advisor can help you sort through potential items and build a strong portfolio to accompany your resume and cover letter. Contact CAS Associate Dean Aaron Perkus to create an e-portfolio.
Line Up References
You will need professors who are willing to serve as professional references when you apply for internships, jobs, or graduate school. Professors and internship advisors make excellent references. Begin looking now for 3+ professors who know you and would be willing to vouch for you. Discuss your future plans with them and ask for advice and guidance. Stay in touch with at least three of them each semester so they can speak about your successes in an informed way.
Service Learning Associates
Housed in the Office of Service Learning, the Service Learning Associates (SLA) program engages 8 to 10 undergraduates each semester as student leaders to their peers in service-learning courses. Each SLA works intensively with one professor to support a service-learning course which aligns with the associate's academic background and interests. The SLAs meet regularly with both faculty and fellow associates throughout the semester and attend professional development training facilitated by the Office of Service Learning.
Service Learning provides the opportunity to learn a face, name, and story to the topics you are most passionate about inside and outside the classroom walls.
- Marnie Whalen '13, Religious Studies
"(My) present work takes into account previous research done on 'altered state of consciousness' experiences (ASC) and out-of-body experiences in the hopes of providing a model for their occurrences. Through the study of techniques and religious practices in Judaism and Taoism, a model for this type of religious experience is proposed.... What emerges from this comparative approach is that the emotional processes for early forms of Jewish mysticism are aroused, while in Taoism emotions are not heightened. This study proposes that the arousal of emotions and the absence of emotions both somehow lead to the same neurological state which results in a religious experience.
I submitted one research essay of 43 pages to Dr. Harkins on 8/30/10 for the completion of the College Advisory Board Religious Studies Undergraduate Research Grant. I will continue to work with Dr. Harkins to revise and submit a version of this research to the undergraduate religious studies essay competition in Dec. 2010 at the Journal for Theta Alpha Kappa and also to the Library undergraduate research prize".
- Niles P. Muzyk '12, Religious Studies.
Start to narrow your interests and look for ways to use classwork, internships, summer work, and potential independent studies to further your interests and plan for your career.
Use Religious Studies to your advantage:
"The one assignment that gave me the biggest academic challenge throughout college was the term paper I had to write on Korean Shamanism, for my "Introduction to Religious Studies" course. This paper pushed me to my intellectual limits and it taught me how to methodically develop a blueprint for whenever I face a challenege. It taught me how to research a topic I knew NOTHING about and develope an argument to the best of my ability.
I recently had a job interview with a Fortune 500 company. Now one may ask, what on earth does my job interview have to with my religious class and my term paper on Korean Shamanism? The truth of the matter is after four interviews with the company, the very last question they wanted me to answer was to 'name a time I struggled beyond reasonable measure in academics and how I overcame the challenge.' I then had to think on my feet real quick and cited the Korean Shamanism term paper. The interviewer was blown away with how well I remembered that paper and how I went about attacking it.
I also cited that Dr. Davidson told our class that one day, we were going to get tasked to research a particular topic for a certain company we know nothing about and we were going to need a blue print to carry out that task. I compared learning Korean Shamanism to learning the ever-changing culture of technology. The next morning, I received a verbal offer for a sales associate role. This paper played a major role in my success for getting my dream job in the business world."
-Roger Evans '13, communication major
That's just the start. Take a look at this career information from other University offices that we think is also valuable to Psychology majors.