Saturday, January 7, 2012

Student Saturday: Job Search Edition

Now that Christmas break is over, many students turn their attention to one of life's necessities: getting a job.  Seniors are looking for openings in their fields.  Underclassmen are looking for internships.  Sure, we praise education for its intrinsic value.  But let's face it: we all count on our degrees to help us secure gainful employment.

OBU has a nice resource page on Resumes, References, Interviewing, and More.

But based on recent history, there are a few other things OBU didn't teach you.  Given its own dealings with personnel, you should definitely keep these points in mind.  After all, actions speak louder than words.  Of course, our fair alma mater would only abide by the highest ethical standards in its own personnel policies and procedures.  So you should expect other prospective employers to play by the same rules.
  • You may have heard that it's unethical for interviewers to ask private, invasive questions about your religious or political opinions that have nothing to do with the conduct of your job.  Well, OBU now does this all the time.
  • Do you have impeccable academic and personal credentials for teaching Bible and theology?  Great... if you're a man.  If you're a woman, don't bother.  God has other plans for you.
  • You may have thought that employers can't fire you for your personal opinions and beliefs, especially if you are doing an exemplary job.  Well, maybe they shouldn't.  But if they answer to a fundamentalist religious organization, they can.  They have, and they will again.
  • You may have thought that you have rights under contracts or institutional personnel policies that protect you from retaliation and baseless termination.  You do, but if your supervisors work for a fundamentalist-controlled religious institution, they can dismiss you anyway.  And can probably even convince themselves they are doing God's will by doing so.
  • Want to be the dean of a Baptist university's religion school?  It helps to be an old buddy of the state convention's executive director.  "But the convention's executive director is not the boss of the university's president," you say.  You're right, he's not.  But he thinks he is.  Apparently, that's all that matters.
So, dear OBU students, remember all that you have learned about human resource laws and ethics.  And remember that with fundamentalist institutions, not only do the laws not apply -- the ethics don't either.

And as you move out into the world of work to start building your fortune repaying your student loans, you are counting on our alma mater to maintain and maybe build on its proud reputation.  When the opposite happens, it hurts you the most (and the loans have to be repaid regardless).  You wouldn't want to hand a prospective employer a resume that lists a degree from Bob Jones University, Liberty University, or Pensacola Christian College -- all of which have earned reputations for intolerance, ignorance, and dubious academic rigor.  But if OBU's slide into fundamentalism continues at the current pace, it may not be long before our degrees from OBU on our resumes will cost alumni/ae more jobs than they gets us.

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