Masters graduate Jennifer Dick reveals how her academic background in Religious Studies has given her an advantage in her new career as a travel agent.
MSc by Research - School of Divinity
|Year of graduation
Your time at the University
I came to Edinburgh on a one-year post graduate research program with hopes of moving into the PhD program afterward. I specifically chose to study in Edinburgh because one of my advisors at California State University in Long Beach California (Dr Jon R Stone) recommended I do so. He told me about Dr Steven Sutcliffe, who was the head of the Religious Studies department within the School of Divinity. He also told me that Dr Sutcliffe was among the leading experts in academia dealing with New Religious Movements. Since my field of study/interest was related to newer areas within Neo-Paganism, it made attending Edinburgh the only choice for me because I wanted to study with the best.
The one-year research-only program I was on was intense and challenging, but I learned more academically and personally during that year than during my entire college career. After graduating from the University in 2014, I decided to put my academic career/pursuits on hold for a while. Eventually I would like to be able to teach college-level courses in Religious Studies and New Religious Movements, which will require me to obtain a PhD. Until that time, I am enjoying having my weekends and evenings free from studying and homework.
Your experiences since leaving the University
Since leaving Edinburgh in 2014, I have had an interesting journey. I first moved to Washington State, where I worked for Starbucks for two years. Despite my extensive educational background and employment history, finding a quality full-time job was incredibly difficult. In 2016, a friend of mine who was working as a professor at Northeastern University encouraged me to move to Massachusetts. Because Massachusetts has over 180 universities and community colleges, we had hoped I might find a career at a university here. I finally decided to put an academic career on hold and focus on finding a full-time job with a good employer. That led to my current employment with AAA Northeast in January 2017, where I was initially hired as a Member Services Consoler. In November of 2017, I was promoted to my current position of Travel Agent, which I love!
While being a travel agent isn’t what I went to University for, it is extremely fulfilling having a job where I can help someone finally take a dream vacation. I have even found a way to use my Religious Studies background when helping people plan trips to destinations such as Jordan or Israel. Because of my education, when my employer decided to send a few agents to Jordan this September, I was able to successfully argue that I be one of the chosen agents. This resulted in my spending a week exploring an amazing destination rich in ancient religious history. I can now use my educational background with my experiences during my trip to perfectly communicate why people should visit Jordan!
Although I have postponed any future postgraduate studies, I do continue to learn and educate myself both professionally and personally. After years of college it is natural for me to want to continue learning and growing so that I can be the best I can be. I even completed an intensive one-year certification program with The Travel Institute to become a Certified Travel Associate/Agent (CTA).
When my employer decided to send a few agents to Jordan this September, I was able to successfully argue that I be one of the chosen agents. This resulted in my spending a week exploring an amazing destination rich in ancient religious history.
I spent so much time focusing only on my studies that I didn’t travel more while living in Europe. So, I encourage everyone to travel while you can as much as you can!
AAA Northeast (external link)