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A New Academic Year: Starting Strong

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August signals new beginnings--particularly for education professionals. This month may represent the start of a teaching practicum, the final semester of classes, or a recently secured career-level teaching position. Whatever the situation, if you are beginning a new experience this fall, take time to reflect on how you will make the most of the transition and opportunity.

As a career advisor, I often ask our new, first-year students to consider how their resumes will look in the senior year, four years beyond their fall orientation. Simply put, the resume of a graduating student will be entirely evolved and contain little or no content prior to that point in time. New students begin with a "blank slate" as the experiences of the proceeding four years will matter most to potential employers. As you enter a new classroom experience this fall (as teacher, mentee, or student), how will you use this opportunity to build your reputation, knowledge, and career?

Standing Out

A number of years ago, I began my student teaching experience during the sweltering days of mid-August. I wanted to make a good first impression as a professional, so I still arrived at my first day of class with a button-down shirt and tie. Thankfully, some of the first advice granted by my supervising teacher was that I could relax a bit on my attire. This may seem a bit antithetical to the advice to stand out, however, the experience provided feedback that my effort was recognized and established a comfortable connection with my mentoring teacher. Had I arrived much more relaxed, I may have encountered a more difficult conversation. Consider how you plan to stand out in your job and career. How will you establish yourself as a professional?

Asking Questions

Most teachers love questions. Questions signal engagement and interest. Questions expand the depth and effectiveness of conversations. In a new experience, the balance of questions is critical. As new experiences begin this fall, consider what questions you have and what questions will make you a more effective contributor to your school and classroom.

That said, what questions would you like to pose? What resources or responses would help you start strong and stand out this fall? Thanks for reading.

Mike Caldwell
Director, Career Resource Center
Westminster College
Salt Lake City, UT

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