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Where do I begin? The Career Center

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Where Do I Begin? The Career Center
You've heard the quotes: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." "No good ending can be expected in the absence of the right beginning."
Whoa! Wait a minute. You chose a career and now you're faced with this whole job search thing! How are you going to make sense out of all this information?
Fear not. You have a translator and advocate nearby if you are finishing an education program: the career center at your college or university. Even if you graduated years ago and are now embarking on a teaching career, the career center can be your ally. The staff in that office has experience helping students and alumni advance in their careers. They can demystify the job-search process and give you support. If you wait until graduation day to visit, you have missed an incredible resource.

What Does a Career Center Offer?
Most colleges and universities understand that part of their mission is to make sure that graduates are successful and satisfied moving from academic programs to employment and careers. Universities accomplish this objective by maintaining career services for their students and alumni.
Your job search will be simplified and enhanced by working with your career center. When the amount of information available on the Web seems overwhelming, the professional in the career center can help you filter all this data and decide what is going to work for you. It is still your responsibility to get a job or make decisions about your future, but you do not have to do it alone. Career centers keep in continuous contact with employers and can interpret what recruiters are looking for, both in terms of specific positions and overall preferences.

When Do I Tackle All of This?
Ideally, a job search is a seamless continuation from your field experiences, coursework, and internships. Faculty members will incorporate career-related information through the tasks you perform; lesson-planning, assessments, current research. Field experiences and internships give you on-the-job training and connections with teachers and administrators.
Viewed this way, the job search is not a separate, detached activity piled on top of student teaching and classes. It is a natural evolution as you develop coursework portfolios (that will be adapted for job hunting), work in class groups (like team teaching), practice teaching with colleagues (learning from them) and attend meetings (expanding your network of professional contacts).
Your timing will depend on the date you finish your program and are available for full-time teaching. Start your search early because everything will take longer than you think.

--Diana Sanchez
California State University San Marcos and
California Association for Employment in Education

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