Portfolios, Mentors, Communities of Support
The starting place for vocational discernment and finding employment is to build a network of friends, advisors and caring mentors who will help you figure it out. Think about college professors and guides, employers along the way, clergy who know and care about you. Think about one smart friend who ‘gets’ you. Consider a family member whose opinion you trust.
If you are in a denominational ordination process (or even considering one) then your church community has a structure for the discernment process. Entering a process does not mean that you are certain that you want to be ordained; rather, it is the beginning of what should be a wise and supportive conversation. As much as you are able, trust that process.
You might give members of your discernment team access to your portfolio. Or simply check in with them every few months, to tell them what you are thinking. No one should go through the process of vocational discernment, alone.
Mid-degree consultation, for M.Div. students
The required mid-degree consultation is a conversation with Associate Dean Goettler, your academic advisor, and several people from your community support, that is, several mentor-like people whom you invite to participate. This will be a helpful conversation reflecting on both your academic interests and your professional development. Plan to bring well-focused questions to this meeting, and expect helpful and honest discussion. This is the sort of meeting that we all need, every few years. YDS can’t make that happen, but this meeting will certainly take place during your second year at YDS.
Supervised Ministries (required of all M.Div. students, optional for MAR students)
Internships, congregational and non-profit
Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)
Non-Profit Leadership experiences (optional for MAR and M.Div students)
Semester long placements in non-profit agencies, with modest stipends
Workshops on non-profit management
Transformational Leadership courses (open to all matriculated students)
One credit intensive courses, with visiting instructors who are leaders in their fields.
Offered twice each term, with an optional one-on-one resume review meeting, our resume workshops are offered by Career Consultant Kathleen Volz, formerly the Director of Career Counseling at NYU Stern School of Business and Career Advisor to the Arts with Yale’s Office of Career Strategy.
Dates for 2019-2020
September – 2019
October – 2019
February – 2020
April – 2020
Contact to register for this workshop to be posted.
YDS Job Board
An online posting of positions available, including full and part time jobs for those who have completed a degree program, summer positions for students returning to school in the fall, and some part time academic year jobs
Significant formation support is offered by denominational programs for those considering ordained or non-ordained ministry. Among those resources are
- Andover Newton at Yale – Dean Sarah Drummond; for those in the UU, UCC and Baptist traditions email@example.com
- Berkeley Divinity School – Associate Dean Cathy George; for those in the Episocpal and Anglican traditions firstname.lastname@example.org
- Black Church Studies Program – Rev. Bill Mathis; for those in historically Black Church traditions. Bill.email@example.com
- Catholic Lay Ministerial Studies - Fr. Ryan Lerner; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lutheran Studies Certificate Program – Rev. Tim Keyl; for those in the Lutheran ELCA tradition email@example.com
- Reformed Studies Certificate Program – Rev. Maria LaSala; for those in the Presbyterian and Reformed traditions firstname.lastname@example.org
- United Methodist Certificate Program – Rev. Vicki Flippin; for those in the United Methodist tradition email@example.com
Job searching advice, from a current student:
Yale MAR student Daniel Thompson wrote the following reflection in response to an inquiry about how he is moving ahead in his own job search.
Envision my “dream job” or jobs that I would really like to do:
It’s important that you think about several (5-7) ideal positions that you would like to hold. After a period of reflection (I recommend devoting a portion of time over several days to do this part some justice), examine the commonalities across all your ideal jobs: are they all in the same field? Do they involve constant interaction with others, occasional interaction, or infrequent interaction? Are you constantly informing others? How are you learning every day?
Develop career choices as potential opportunities:
Talk about your career aspirations and interests with a wide variety of people, including (and maybe especially) people outside academia. It is likely a friend, family member, or acquaintance may point out a career option that you had not considered. For example, I had not considered a consulting role until my uncle pointed out the option.
This analysis is imperative for your cover letter and interviews.
If you spend enough time and concerted effort on steps 1-3, this should not present too much of a challenge, although it will take time to do well.
Begin to pursue several potential jobs options:
- Job posting on websites
- I found handshake (I have a subscription through Penn) to have a larger selection of postings than Divlink, but that might be explained by my set of interests
- Talking to Professors; It’s crazy how often this gets overlooked
- Talking to classmates; Ditto to above
- Searching up companies/organizations and emailing them directly
Try to pick up a part-time position during the school year or in the summer between academic years, if you can.
An increasing number of employers, particularly businesses, NGOs, and consulting firms, care less than ever before about the type of advanced degree you hold. Instead, they seem more interested in hiring people who are intelligent, possess good logical analytical training, and are passionate about relevant topics. In some instances, I have found that an MAR degree offers me an advantage, since potential employers see it as a unique way of approaching problems