marielle-headshot.pngMarielle Thomas joined Candler’s Office of Student Life staff in August 2022 as the school’s director of Career Services. At the end of her first year in the role, we caught up with her to talk about the abundant resources and opportunities that Candler students (and alumni!) have as they seek out their next steps in the world.

An Atlanta native, Marielle earned her bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University and her master’s in administration with an emphasis in organizational leadership and development from the University of South Dakota. For the past decade, she has worked in higher education career services—including at Georgia Tech and Georgia State University—helping students with their professional development and helping employers develop and enhance their campus recruitment strategy. In addition, Marielle has an extensive ministry background, with over 23 years of experience. She currently serves as director of worship and creative arts at The Faith Community. 

career-services-4-story.jpgWhat led you to this particular call of working alongside seminary students to help them envision their vocation and put it into action?

I have worked in career services for over a decade at various institutions, but it was the work and conversations I would have in a ministry context that started to spark this desire to work with seminary students. I felt that my years of career services experience and my over 20 years of ministry experience could be a good resource and combination to help students do the necessary work to lean boldly into their vocation.

What do you see as the mission of Candler Career Services?

The primary purpose and mission of Candler Career Services is to expand the imagination of where theological education can go. As seminarians, the skill set students are developing is needed in ministry and marketplace. A big piece of my job is simply helping to spark the imagination of the various ways Candler students can show up in the world and live out their purpose. My goal is to walk alongside students from orientation to graduation as they walk out their vocational journey.  

IMG_1437-story.jpgWhat resources and events have you offered this year? How have students responded?

This year, the Career Services office has offered one-on-one meetings, professional development workshops and classroom presentations. The biggest thing we’ve done was to host the Candler Career Fair—the first in the school’s history—which included organizations from ministry and marketplace such as State Farm, The Carter Center, Chris180, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and more!

In addition to events, the Career Services office has posted over 650 jobs on the Candler Jobs Board website this year. We also launched career and vocational tips on the go, where students are able to text me their questions—it has been a great addition to our list of services. Lastly, we started a Career Services newsletter that goes out weekly to Candler students with top jobs, events, and opportunities.

I’m excited to work with more students both in-person and virtually as we launch our hybrid MDiv!

career-services-6-story2.jpgAre there any resources available to Candler alumni?

Yes, yes, and yes! The thing that makes Candler such a unique place is that alumni can still receive assistance from the Career Services office. One, the Candler Jobs Board is open to students and alumni. Two, alumni are able to book one-on-ones with me, and are invited to attend all workshops, professional development events, and career fairs sponsored by Career Services. I always say alumni leave the nest, not the family, so we want to ensure that our alumni still have support vocationally.

As this academic year winds down, what are you looking forward to for Career Services at Candler in the future?

I am very excited about the high-touch strategy for students we have curated in the Career Services office. My goal is that by the time students graduate, they should have a working resume/CV, a marketing profile detailing their skills, and an active LinkedIn profile. I look forward to Candler students expanding how they can impact the world both in the church and beyond.

career-services-1-story.jpgIs there a particular success story you can share?

My favorite moment with a student happened when they were terrified because they came to Candler for one thing, but a class assignment shifted them in another direction vocationally—they felt a spark for what they encountered in their class work. I call that the “Elizabeth Effect,” which simply means when we come in contact with something that gives us a clue about our purpose, it makes our spirits leap in response. Giving that student the room to talk it through, process it, and then watching them own it boldly was such a proud moment. I love students who become “shifters”—meaning they come to seminary for one reason, but God shifts them in another direction vocationally because of what they encounter in the classroom and the community. 

What else do you think prospective students, current students, and alumni should know about the work you do?

Candler really is curating and crafting how career and vocational services can be done in a seminary context as we watch the landscape of ministry shift and change. There are very few seminaries that have a dedicated Career Services office, so I can’t emphasize this enough: take full advantage of this service! Candler is so invested in your vocational journey that there is a person on staff—me!—who is here to help you. I’m here to push you, encourage you and support you, and I look forward to walking alongside you on your journey!