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Networking Redefined Part II: Maintaining authentic relationships during student teaching, the job search, and beyond

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Last week, I discussed strategies for building meaningful relationships with education professionals both during and after the job search. This week, I transition to focus on effectively presenting yourself to education professionals and maintaining professional relationships once they are initially established.

5. Be able to articulate your skills and experiences in terms that the school district values. Through doing research, you should be able to better understand the school culture and articulate your own experiences in a way that shows you have the desired skill sets listed in the job posting that would make you a valuable asset to the district. For example, if the school values technology and differentiated instruction make sure to incorporate specific examples that provide evidence of your knowledge and abilities during the conversation. It is important to focus on what you can do for a school district rather than focusing solely on the available employment opportunities.

6. Do not sell yourself short.... Always ask contacts if there is anyone else that they recommend contacting. Do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Even if a position looks promising, never assume that you are a lock for that position. During the job search and through a teaching career, one can never have too many quality contacts. With this being said, it is also important to not "burn any bridges" by gossiping or dismissing someone as irrelevant. You never know who you may end up working with someday or who may be able to assist you in future job searches.

7. Follow-up with contacts that you make, while establishing initial contact is important, staying touch is the most crucial part to building a relationship. Make sure to send a follow-up thank you note within 24 hours of meeting or talking with someone. This pertains to both informational and formal interviews. When writing a thank you note, make sure to personalize it based on information covered during your conversation rather than sending the same generic note out to everyone....Everyone likes to feel special! For instance, consider acquaintances who only contact you when they need something versus a reliable friend who you see on a regular basis and can depend on in both good times and bad. School administrators are similar in that they will be less inclined to remember you if a teaching position becomes vacant, if you only contact them once and they do not hear from you again.

In closing, while relationship building can require extra time through having conversations, sending emails, and writing thank you notes. This time will be well spent in terms of expanding your network, improving your chances of earning a full-time teaching position, and creating professional relationships throughout your teaching career.

Joel O'Brien
Career Counselor
Marquette University Career Services Center
Milwaukee, WI

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