By Ryan Haber.
“What do I do next?”
You might not know. To make things worse, you might not very good at much that the world is willing to pay for.
I felt that way when I left the seminary. I landed a decent job almost by dumb luck but didn’t really know what I was going to do next or even what I was doing in general. I was bored with work which seemed trivial compared to the grand vision that had been laid out before me during years of priestly formation. During one job hunting phase, I couldn’t get anyone to look at my resume. I sent out 200 resumes and got back not one response. How worthless can you feel?
I’m happy to report that more recently, Google and Facebook have approached me about jobs and I like my current situation well enough that I turned them both down.
How did that happen?
I do not have any magic. I have learned a few things over the twelve years since leaving seminary, and I’d really like to share them with you.
You can have a stable job that adds value to the world and that you enjoy. You can change jobs when you want, rather than getting chased out of them. You can have your own home and be confident in job interviews. You have something to offer. The “world” works by a different set of rules than the monastic community. The good news is that you can learn these rules and, without compromising your faith or morals, navigate the game of life.
I am not a career coach. I’m not an expert. But if you’re feeling lost and confused, I am probably just a step or two ahead of you and can relate. I’ve love to share what people have taught me. Here are some of the things we can work on together:
- Thinking and envisioning careers which may interest you
- Figuring out potential next steps
- Getting your resume and online profiles ship-shape
- Learning how to network in powerfully effective ways
- Getting job interviews
- Being more comfortable with job interviews
- Figuring out how to get along with secular managers and coworkers
- Negotiating for salary
- Strategies for decision making
There are no guarantees, and you’ll only get out what you put in. But if you’d like to chat with me about yourself, your career and what may come next, I’m very happy to share what I have learned so far.
To get started, go to http://leonieslonging.org/careercontact/ and complete the contact form.
Soon afterwards, we will be in touch to make appointment for an initial chat.
Here’s what you’ll do in your initial 60-minute initial chat:
- Get to know each other a little bit
- Tell me where you are, what you’re doing, what you want
- I’ll probably give you a homework assignment
- Set up a time to talk more in-depth about one topic or another
After the initial chat, you and I will go on to the steps that make most sense for you. Each time we meet – whether in person at a coffee shop or across the country via video chat – just buy me a cup of coffee and we’ll call it even. That’s not much of a risk.
Ryan Haber is a Maryland native. Since leaving Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in 2006, he has mostly worked in software development even though his B.A. is in history and he has no other degree. He has worked in companies big and small to help document and explain technical software development tools to software engineers. Periodically they let him out of his cubicle to speak at conferences and workshops about similar nerdy things. Right now he works for Blackboard, Inc. In his free time, he hikes and camps and takes pictures and kicks his nieces around. Like you, Ryan has no idea what God has in store for him next.
By Wendy Macagno.
The process of job seeking after leaving the religious life is daunting. Job applications, resumes, and cover letters are usually not on the forefront of your mind as you are processing your transition back into the world. A common question that arises is what to put on your resume regarding your time in the convent or seminary.
From an employer’s perspective, a gap in work history, particularly a long one, raises a red flag. They will wonder if your job skills are out of date and if there is something wrong with you that made you unemployed for so long. Therefore leaving a gap in your resume can hinder your chances of landing a job. However, you may not want to share such a personal part of your life, and this is entirely understandable. One way around this potential dilemma is by describing your time in the convent or seminary as volunteer service and word it as such that it does not reveal that you were in formation.
Beneath the title “Volunteer,” you can list your former job duties and tasks that you were responsible for, such as
“assisting first grade classroom with behavioral management,” “organizing files using the alpha-numeric system,” or “landscape maintenance.” It is especially important, for any resume, to add specific job duties that relate to the job you are applying for. This may take some creativity on your part, but keep in mind that the employer wants to see if you are qualified for the position and your resume should always be tailored to that end. If you are stuck on how to word your job duties, I recommend going to www.onetonline.org and type in your job title on the top right hand corner. From there you can find many examples to get you started on the kind of wording to use.
Looking for a job is no easy task for anyone, and can often be discouraging after sending in what seems like the hundredth job application. But don’t give up! As one who returned to the world during the height of the 2008 recession after living in a cloistered monastery for an entire year, I can testify that with a little elbow grease, you can find the job that is right for you.
If you have any questions regarding resumes, job applications, or career guidance please comment below or send me (Wendy) an e-mail via the contact form. Best of luck on your job search!
Postscript: below are three examples from real CVs that include time spent in the convent, showing several different approaches. The first one focuses on duties and responsibilities without mentioning that they were undertaken while in a convent:
February-July 2013. Part-time tutoring position at Saint ________ College in ________. Responsibilities involved teaching remedial English to two Year Seven students (emphasis on spelling, grammar and phonics, but including a text study of The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde), and occasional supply teaching across primary and secondary year levels.
The second mentions directly the time spent in religious life, but places the emphasis on other work experience:
Aspirant Dominican Sisters of ___________ (Convent in __________) 2011
Office Manager Company Name (Location, State) 2007
- Positively assisted customers and clients through fruitful communication.
- Represented President via email and phone.
- Managed projects and co-workers, productively lead meetings.
- Maintained order in chaotic atmosphere through filing, data entry, AR/AP and tier 1 support.
The third is a list of the terms that the individual has used to turn her convent duties into marketable skills: Convent CV Examples.
In April of 2014, I found myself sitting in a meeting room on a university campus at a departmental “meet and greet,” where a bunch of professors gather to listen to wildly successful alumni of their department talk about their exciting career exploits. That Friday morning, the visiting alumna was some hotshot Director of International Marketing for some top five international magazine publisher that, every two or three years, moved her and her entire family to a new country, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Thailand…, to launch a new magazine in a language and culture she didn’t understand. Then, when she had made the magazine wildly successful, they moved her on to the next country to do it all over again. After about an hour of listening to her adventures, one of the professors asked, “Weren’t you ever… anxious or… afraid even… to just pick up your family and move them to a country you knew nothing about?”
The Marketing Director appeared genuinely confused, as if she couldn’t even understand the question. “Afraid? Why… Why would I be afraid? You just go and figure it out. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
In that moment, I felt a hard knock in my chest as I remembered who I used to be. The marketing hotshot continued talking, but I didn’t hear her. Instead, I heard my inner voice say in a slow, matter-of-fact tone, “I used to be like that. I used to be fearless. Now I’m afraid of everything.”
Most people are afraid of failing. They’re afraid of putting a ton of work and time and effort, and love, into a thing and then having it all “go to waste”. They’re afraid others will look down on them because they set their sights high, but didn’t make it. They’re afraid of starting all over again from scratch, because it might mean they’ll just fail again.
I wasn’t afraid of any of those things, and in my time working with Leonie’s Ladies, I’ve found that a lot of you think those are the things you’re afraid of, but you’re actually afraid of something else entirely. So, over the next few days, I’m going to tell you what I was afraid of, and where that fear came from. See if you can relate!
When I was a child, my mother used to say to me like it was a mantra, “Jenni, you have so much faith”. She didn’t mean that I was the spitting image of the Virgin Mary. She meant that I was fearless.
I suppose I actually was objectively fearless back then. Like a lot of us, my mother always told me that I could be anything I wanted to be and that I would always be successful at it. With those prospects, what was there to be afraid of?! In both school and college, I always made straight ‘A’s. So long as my world was confined to studying, I rocked it.
So I branched out a little. I traveled all of Western and much of Eastern Europe, by myself. At 23, I immigrated to Israel, also by myself, with every intention of making my life there. Israelis used to regularly ask me, “What, you mean you don’t have any family here? You don’t know anybody?” And just as regularly they would express awe when I answered in the negative. For five years, I supported myself as a freelance editor in Jaffa. I had a great professional reputation, and I was making exceptionally good money.
My world was bigger, and I still had never failed. What was there to fear?
Part Two of this post can be found here.