Career Prospects

Apart from pursuing an academic career, there are numerous (often unknown) career paths for Religious Studies graduates. Every semester graduates of our programme are invited to share their career profiles with an interested audience. In their stories, they focus on the role the Religious Studies course has had on their professional lives. Thereby, our current students can get to know different career perspectives and receive tips and tricks for their own professional career.  

Below you can find our growing archive of career profiles.

Quo vadis II (June 20, 2017)

Perspective 6: The Cultural Mediator (KulturKontakt Austria)

Sabine Forstner-Widter completed her individual diploma in Religious Studies (Mag. 2008) with a thesis on "Religiöse Elemente in Fantasy-Literatur als Bezugsquelle religionskompositorischer Weltanschauungen [Religious Elements in Fantasy Literature as a Source for Composite Religious Worldviews]." During her studies, she already started to work in the cultural sector and earned a great deal of professional experience, which helped her greatly to find a job following graduation. Her crucial advice for everyone who plans to work in the cultural field is to build a comprehensive professional network. Sabine tells that, in general, it is very difficult to gain a foothold in the cultural scene without having access to relevant networks. A first possible door opener could be an internship, which, however, all too often is on a voluntary basis. Generally, she states that the competences she gained through Religious Studies furnished her with a variety of skills that are conducive when working in the cultural sphere; such as the abilities of critical thinking and independent work, but also intercultural and religious expertise.

Furthermore, Sabine stresses the relevance of appealing applications and recommends to directing one's attention on a well-structured and generally aesthetic form; a criterion she herself applies today in her reviewing of job applications. Given that the field of Religious Studies is sometimes understood in a distorted manner, it is worthwhile—especially regarding the preparation for a job interview—to enlist the various competences one has achieved during one's studies and to name them appropriately. Sabine also advises all students to make use of courses in foreign languages offered by the university. Something she, unfortunately, omitted during her studies, and now regrets.

Perspective 5: The Art Historian (ÖAW)

Stefanie Linsboth completed her diploma studies in Religious Studies (Mag. 2011) with a thesis on "Todespersonifikationen und Geschlechterbilder in der Grafik des 20. Jahrhunderts [Personifications of Death and Gender Images in the Graphic Arts of the Twentieth century]" and she also holds a diploma in Art History (Mag. phil. 2012). During her studies, Stefanie began to work at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW)—first in the administrative and, later on, the scholarly area. Currently she is employed as a Ph.D. Fellow in a research project on the representation of Maria Theresia’s reign and works on her dissertation on the topic "Religiosität und Frömmigkeit in der visuellen Herrscherrepräsentation Maria Theresias [Religiosity and Piety in the Visual Representation of Maria Theresia’ Reign]."

Stefanie explains that it was very important for her to explore the vocational world already during her studies. Regarding her current employment, her background in Religious Studies trained her primarily in respect to methodology and theorising, since the discipline is excellent in training the students on how to appropriately handle religious diversity as well as culturality. In particular, her interdisciplinary experience—enabled by her two different degrees—was a most important element in enhancing her profile, which is highly appreciated in the professional arena, especially as an art historian. During one's studies, she stresses the need for a thematic focus on the one hand, and to work on the learning and practicing of "soft skills" on the other. As a student in a "protected habitat," one should thus learn to set aside any fear of public-speaking and making presentations and contribute as actively as possible in the various class discussions and during course seminars. This is especially relevant to students pursuing an academic career, because such skills are often needed in academe. Finally, Stefanie emphasises the importance of expanding any knowledge of foreign languages at an early stage (primarily English, and beyond, according to individual aims).

Perspective 4: The Newspaper Journalist (News)

Valerie Krb completed the individual diploma in Religious Studies (Mag. 2010) with a thesis on "Motive des Religionswechsels zur Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzten Tage [Motifs of Religious Conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]." Already during her studies, Valerie realised that she has a predilection for treating religious topics through the lens of a journalist, wherefore she completed several internships at Der Standard, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, and also at the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF). These experiences confirmed her career aspiration. Presently, following a stop at Wiener Bezirkszeitung, Valerie is an editor for domestic politics at News, where she regularly introduces topics of her field of interest. She explains that during the application processes she frequently stood out because of her relatively uncommon area of expertise, since in journalism pertinent knowledge is of high value. Yet, her journalistic skills were not gained only by practical work; she also visited the Austrian Medienakademie (KfJ) in Salzburg, where she earned her degree following her studies.

Valerie's recommendation for those who are also interested in working as a journalist is to actively generate a network of contacts since many jobs are not being allocated as is common, that is, via public advertisements, but by word-of-mouth recommendations. For the very same reason, she suggests submitting unsolicited applications. As she maintains, in order to properly shape one's own career profile, it is crucial to set a topical focus during one's studies and take additional training into account. Concerning one's résumé, Valerie advises to make sure to list all personal accomplishments, which have been gained throughout one's studies and—where applicable—fieldwork experience. She holds this to be invaluable, for more often than not, Religious Studies is mistaken for Theology and people (among them, of course, also prospective employers) are positively surprised when learning about the actual breadth and identity of our subject.


Quo vadis I (January 16, 2017)

Perspective 3: The Administrator (Microbial Ecology)

Barbara Urbanic completed the individual diploma in Religious Studies (Mag.a 2014) with her thesis "Apocalypse Now-ish: Protestantischer Fundamentalismus in den USA und das Ende der Welt [Apocalypse Now-ish: Protestant Fundamentalism in the USA and the End of the World]" and currently works as administrator at the University of Vienna’s Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science. As a student, she began to work as student representative and at Student Point, which forced her to productively combine working and studying. In hindsight, she sees this as an advantage because it helped her to develop useful organisational skills. Furthermore, she regards internships, working (full- or part-time), etc. as almost indispensable for every student’s career because it allows them to obtain important qualifications for professional areas that complement their studies. It is hard to compensate for this later in life. In Barbara’s experience, employers react very positively to a degree in Religious Studies. It shows them that the candidate is able to be self-organised and work independently; having written a thesis further emphasises this. During job interviews, the degree in Religious Studies often sparked a genuine interest in the discipline itself and herself as a graduate. Barbara would like to recommend to the Religious Studies students to go after the various opportunities at the University of Vienna—for example, the plethora of courses available throughout the University.

Perspective 2: The Radio Journalist (Ö1)

Kerstin Tretina received her degree in Religious Studies (M.A. 2016) with a thesis on "Sehnsucht nach Ganzheitlichkeit: Weshalb sind Formen von holistischer Spiritualität für Frauen besonders attraktiv? [Yearning for Wholeness: Why are Forms of Holistic Spirituality Particularly Interesting to Women]." Kerstin has always seen herself as a journalist (she began to work for the Kurier newspaper at the age of 18), which is why she enrolled in an undergraduate degree in Journalism at the FH Wien. There, the head of the programme drew her attention to the possible avenues in regard to future studies. A university degree seemed very attractive to Kerstin and, after enrolling at the University of Vienna, she quickly discovered her passion for Religious Studies. Internships at a television station and the ORF radio’s information division followed. Kerstin stresses that she always had a job, including while studying. At Ö1 she was introduced to the Religion division, became a freelance employee, and has been a member of the permanent staff since 2015. Among other things, she develops reports and shows focusing on the topic of religion. Her advice to Religious Studies students: Think about and, ideally, practice to present yourself in an effective way. She finds that supplementary qualifications, particularly in the areas of integration and migration, are extremely beneficial for a successful career. Students of Religious Studies are already experts in these fields; they just have to position themselves within these areas in a clear and precise manner. Furthermore, Kerstin emphasizes the need to show initiative, as well as be attentive and receptive. The media industry views Religious Studies very positively, notably regarding the objective way of thinking: students are well-advised to adopt this unbiased approach, to know one’s own position, to avoid drawing hasty conclusions, and instead forge a personal opinion and remain critical.

Perspective 1: The Librarian (Vetmed)

Georg Zippenfenig completed the individual diploma in Religious Studies (Mag. 2012) with a thesis on "Religion am Rand des Feldes? Eine Untersuchung zu funktionalen Elementen von Religion bei Fußballfans [Religion at the Edge of the Field? A Study on Functional Elements of Religion Among Soccer Fans]." He now works at the journal division of the library of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, as well as for several working groups of the Austrian Libraries. His interest in Religious Studies and religions in general emerged when he was very young. His answer to students of Religious Studies who are dealing with their future prospects is to get a clear sense of what this discipline actually is about and what it can be for you: This understanding is what you can build upon, using your own strengths while continuously trying to improve yourselves. Like Barbara Urbanic, he emphasises the broad spectrum of courses available to students at the University of Vienna. Georg stresses the need to have a good command of English for any future career, and advises students to take courses in English or improve their language skills in other ways. Ever since his transition from the University to the professional world, Georg has received only positive reactions to his academic expertise. When it comes to job applications, he recommends to highlight the advantages (utmost objectivity, general knowledge, intercultural competence) and uniqueness of an education in Religious Studies. Ideally, you will also manage to enhance your resume by becoming an expert in an additional field. In his case, this was a degree in Library Studies.