News - Graduates From These Two GU Programs Regularly Find Jobs In Their Fields

Graduates From These Two GU Programs Regularly Find Jobs In Their Fields

By Carla Morris

Worship-Whitlock_3

When colleagues from GU’s records office and music department recently compared notes, they discovered this gem: Last year, nearly 100% of the graduates majoring in worship arts and/or music industry studies secured full time jobs in their fields following graduation. Some secured jobs before they graduated.

While the news bodes well for students preparing for employment in both areas, the statistic comes as little surprise to those who know how the programs work. 

Paul Sunderland, professor of worship arts, and Steve Cook, instructor in music industry studies, represent programs that thoroughly equip students to meet the needs of today’s employers. They routinely create relevant experiences students can put on their resumes and talk about during job interviews.

Sunderland recently outlined the winning approach in worship arts.

“Real-world” Relevance

By design, GU’s Worship Arts program mirrors real-world work scenarios. GraduatesWorship-Whitlock_4 emerge:

  • Well-versed in teamwork. Every course integrates projects that require collaboration, a given for how today’s churches operate.
  • Familiar with “real-world” expectations. Course projects consistently include worship theology, multi-media, and musical arrangements and transitions—elements common to worship planning and leading.
  • Confident to lead. Relevant projects build confidence in the students. “We have a very high ratio of students who actively serve in local churches,” says Sunderland. These include churches that provide dynamic worship experiences.

  • Beneficiaries of excellent leadership. “Over the years, we have learned to identify signs of a healthy church for internships,” says Sunderland. Pastors in his network often contact him about securing interns. The students, in turn, realize opportunities “to shadow and learn from great leaders.”

Pursuit Worship Bands: Guided Practice, Immediate Application

GU’s Pursuit worship bands allow students to implement “lessons learned” as they lead. Pursuit follows a model that develops two student leaders per band as the ensembles guide worshipers weekly in GU’s Chapel and Vespers services. Student leaders make decisions, plan, and put plans into action under Sunderland’s supervision. Throughout, he engages them in discussions about effective worship. 

“Student leaders [also] take responsibility for administrative work,” he says. They become proficient in Planning Center Online, a worship planning resource considered standard among churches. “Students provide leadership, while I routinely check their work and offer feedback about potential improvements.”

Conversations About What Employers WantMusic-industry_studies-2.jpg

Sunderland also coaches students in how to prepare for job interviews, generally scheduling one-on-one sessions with graduating seniors in the final semester of their studies. Together, they review topics that search committees often address and imagine the student’s response to likely questions.  

Sunderland says that he and his colleagues intentionally relate their own relevant career field experiences to students. While he holds a doctorate in worship arts, he also speaks from 15+ years of experience as a full-time worship leader. 

“Students routinely comment on how practical, yet informative the Worship Arts program is,” he adds, a true testament to its design.

For more information about securing a GU Worship Arts major for an internship, contact Professor Paul Sunderland at [email protected]. For information about music industry studies at GU, contact Gary Erickson at [email protected]

Learn More

The Clinic: GU Music Alumni Offer Hope To Exhausted “Roadies
Calling: A Hymn Writer’s Story – GU Alumnus Dan Damo
U2 Meets Courtney at the Top of The Rock
Prepared to Prepare: Rod Kim Talks About Transitioning from College to Career

Scholarships you help fund today help the church leaders of tomorrow. Thank you for giving.

This story was published on May 19, 2020




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