My first life mistake... (career advice?)

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    Sep 29, 2012 2:12 AM GMT
    Hey RJers (and sorry for the long post),

    I graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May with a BA in theology. I made the decision to return to Notre Dame to begin a master's program in biblical studies, thinking that I was committed to earning a PhD and having a career as an academic. It was always difficult to be a gay student at Notre Dame (which, because of its Catholic identity, is less-than-supportive of its small LGBT campus community), but my many friends and professors assured me that grad school would feel different, that I would love it, and it would fly by.

    Now I'm halfway through my first semester, and I'm totally miserable. My friends have all graduated and left, the dating pool seems to consist of only 3 people, and ND continues to be institutionally homophobic and suffocating. In addition, I've begun to seriously doubt academia as a career path--it did not "sink in" until recently that I'd be in school until I'm in my late-20s, and even then, the academic job market is just as competitive and cut-throat as finance jobs. Though I continue to enjoy my studies, it doesn't fulfill me in some quasi-spiritual sense which would make it worth all the bullshit. I've realized that interest in the subject doesn't equate to interest in the career.

    As a result, I've 99% decided to leave my program post-December, and to begin a new career. I would do virtually anything to live and work in New York City. I am feeling very overwhelmed by all of my options, since I neither know what I want, nor what I'm qualified for, given my liberal arts background. My meetings with the career counselors at ND have given me some leads (for example, consulting firms often hire liberal arts graduates), but I'd REALLY appreciate any advice or emotional support from the RJ community.

    Thanks all.
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    Sep 29, 2012 2:16 AM GMT
    Good luck to you. In my first life I was a lesbian, terrible mistake that was. I still can't eat fish either.
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    Sep 29, 2012 2:35 AM GMT
    I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I'm not sure about your chosen field or what job you could/should get, but I would suggest getting a job and starting your life. You can always try going part time while working. I know it may be hard, but if you really want your masters or Phd i think this is the best choice. Going back to school after so many years is hard, but taking one class a semester can give you another degree in about 10 years, while you're still living your life. And that when you're taking just one class.

    I wish you the best of luck in whatever decision you make.
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    Sep 29, 2012 3:02 AM GMT
    Grad school is socially tough. The difference between undergrad and grad is critical thinking. That means critically thinking about many aspects outside of the department.

    When I came to Indiana (I'm at IU), I hated it. I had no life other than being inside my building all day and any other time I had was spent reading. I was very isolated. Successfully through the monotony, I'm finally in my third year.

    I started later than most, and in many ways that was to my advantage. I lived and worked the nine to five life; that is a whole new type of monotony. There's life skills that need to be developed outside of school, and people that go straight through don't get those until later.

    School will always be there, but your 20s won't. You may find yourself going back later, in a different career path, and at an entirely different school.
  • AMoonHawk

    Posts: 11406

    Sep 29, 2012 4:17 AM GMT
    go back and get an mba .. ND is pretty accredited so you should land a pretty good manager job. Seriously pretty much anyone can become a manager. You don't even need any kind of experience in what ever the company does especially if it is a tech company. I'm in the tech industry and I can honestly tell you that not one manager has even the slightest clue about work that needs to be done for technical issues. Their technical experience is learning how to maneuver through web pages to run a report or pull up a schedule and maybe create a spreadsheet now and then. Get an early start and you'll move your way up fast because the less you know the faster you will climb the ladder.
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    Sep 29, 2012 4:42 AM GMT
    Leaving a Master's in biblical studies after one semester sounds like a very smart move, especially considering your young age, limited work experience, and uncertainty as to your own future plans.

    I used to work in the recruiting and marketing arm of a prestigious graduate school and I can assure you - positively assure you - that you you don't want to commit to tens of thousands of dollars and years of your young life without being absolutely certain that this academic path is right for you. My guess is that you never really solicited anyone's counsel before your made your decision to pursue this degree. If you had, they could have provided you with a bit more advice than "the academic job market is just as competitive and cut-throat as finance jobs."
    Theology is not my area of expertise, but take a look at http://canterbridge.org/2008/05/23/who-should-and-should-not-pursue-a-phd-in-theology-or-biblical-studies/ from someone who does have it.

    Best case scenario = You continue all the way though both your Master's and doctoral programs (that's a BIG assumption), graduate, and begin an academic job search. (It is much more likely that you'll plod along enough to graduate with your M.A. and then give up because the years of money and time necessary to complete the terminal degree, won't seem justifiable. Then you'll be exactly where you are now - looking towards N.Y. and wondering how to earn a living.)

    As an openly gay biblical scholar, will you feel comfortable working at an Catholic institution? If not, that essentially leaves you looking for work at one of the more tolerant Jesuit colleges which are less beholden to Vatican orthodoxy, or at one of the secular state institutions. Think there might be a lot of openings? Start looking : The Chronicle of Higher Ed. has some great forums from scholars looking for work right now. Most state higher ed budgets are being clipped. Biblical studies not likely to be an area many can preserve from the ax.

    I hope that you aren't going into debt to finance this plan - but we can save that for another forum thread.

    My advice is to leave the program and spend some time checking out the labor market. Use the excellent career resources at Notre Dame and spend a few months developing your resume and interview skills. Maybe take a trip to New York and experience the city for yourself. Stay for a while if you can afford it. Take whatever money you would have spent on tuition and put it towards exploring what you really want to do with your life. Sound good?
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    Sep 29, 2012 5:52 AM GMT
    In my opinion, get a temporary job to support yourself in NYC while figuring out what you want to do. If possible get an internship at a company that interest you so that you get the proper experience and get a jab at something you might like to pursue a career in.

    Speaking from experience, I went to school in Florida and when I moved out to LA to pursue a career in entertainment, it was difficult to find a job because of competition. So what I did was I interned at different companies to build my resume and got a job as a hosts in a high class restaurant to support myself financially. It was a difficult and frustrating (in regards to job hunting) experience but it paid off in the end because I ended up landing an entry level job at the dream company that I wanted to work for, for such a long time.

    But the point is, you got to do what you got to do in order to succeed. One thing I learned is that the more risks and chances you take, the more opportunities arise and doors open. (On the side note, I feel that all great artists and people in general need a little struggle in their lives to help build character. I mean Kristen Wiig use to sell peaches at the local Los Angeles farmers market, and Jon Hamm use to be a set dresser for soft-core porn.)

    However, I'm willing to admit that I got a 2nd job as a caterer server because I have student loans to pay off. With that said, I think that one of the best job to get is as a caterer server because it pays well and most of the time no experience is necessary, just fantastic customer service. Also catering companies understand that ppl they hire don't want to be servers forever and that they are pursuing other interest. Its an easy, tiring job but it pays well depending who you work for. Plus you get to meet amazing ppl with different passions.

    If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up with a message.



  • UCstudent

    Posts: 123

    Sep 29, 2012 6:03 AM GMT
    Saguaromatic saidHey RJers (and sorry for the long post),

    I graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May with a BA in theology. I made the decision to return to Notre Dame to begin a master's program in biblical studies, thinking that I was committed to earning a PhD and having a career as an academic. It was always difficult to be a gay student at Notre Dame (which, because of its Catholic identity, is less-than-supportive of its small LGBT campus community), but my many friends and professors assured me that grad school would feel different, that I would love it, and it would fly by.

    Now I'm halfway through my first semester, and I'm totally miserable. My friends have all graduated and left, the dating pool seems to consist of only 3 people, and ND continues to be institutionally homophobic and suffocating. In addition, I've begun to seriously doubt academia as a career path--it did not "sink in" until recently that I'd be in school until I'm in my late-20s, and even then, the academic job market is just as competitive and cut-throat as finance jobs. Though I continue to enjoy my studies, it doesn't fulfill me in some quasi-spiritual sense which would make it worth all the bullshit. I've realized that interest in the subject doesn't equate to interest in the career.

    As a result, I've 99% decided to leave my program post-December, and to begin a new career. I would do virtually anything to live and work in New York City. I am feeling very overwhelmed by all of my options, since I neither know what I want, nor what I'm qualified for, given my liberal arts background. My meetings with the career counselors at ND have given me some leads (for example, consulting firms often hire liberal arts graduates), but I'd REALLY appreciate any advice or emotional support from the RJ community.

    Thanks all.


    you could try Human Resources. They would appreciate someone of your background in people relations.

    but for careers with a good job market that would be hard unless you go to math or science. I'm doing pharmacy and I enjoy that a lot, and I know many people who change from art/business and come to pharmacy school

    I don't know too much about NY, but if you get there I hope you enjoy it and pray everything works out for the best
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    Sep 29, 2012 2:35 PM GMT
    Thanks, everybody, for you advice. I chose to come back to ND--as opposed to a program at a different school--because ND awarded me a full tuition scholarship. I'm still accruing some debt (student loans to finance living expenses), but this is nothing compared to what it would or could have been had I gone to a school with a less-generous financial package.

    If I tried to transfer to another program at ND, I would lose my scholarship, since it it administered by the department. In addition, I'm not sure I could even get in to the MBA program without business experience... as I understand it, most people get their MBAs after a few years of working. In any case, the goal is to leave ND (with all its homophobia) behind.

    I have already 99% decided to leave,so I'm not looking to be convinced. I am more interested in hearing your advice for job-hunters with liberal arts backgrounds (what sorts of industries might I look into?), or for job-hunters determined to end up in a certain area (NYC).