It's Never Too Early: Three Tips on Launching the Job Search Process
With the fall semester of the school year underway, most seniors in our nation's teacher education programs are probably gearing up for student teaching. However, the fall semester is also a great time to gear up for your job search. Student teaching in itself can, of course, become a "try-out" for a vacancy that may occur on campus; but even ahead of the student teaching experience, there are some enjoyable actions you can take to launch your job search. Don't wait for the official job fair/recruitment season. Here are 3 steps you can take right now, this fall.
- Attend any available homecoming reunions and tailgate parties on campus. In networking the crowd, you may discover hiring entities or colleagues and relatives of hiring entities in attendance, particularly if there is an alumni reunion event scheduled for graduates of the college of education.
Don't neglect dropping by other types of alumnae reunion events, such as those based around organizations - perhaps alumnae of band, athletics, or service organizations.
If there is a sit-down luncheon opportunity available, such as for an alumni award event, consider it too. Introductions around the table will give you an opportunity to share the fact that you are a senior nearing student teaching and your job search.
- The approach of Thanksgiving is a lovely time to begin to weave your professional network by simply and sincerely saying, "Thank you," to both your university contacts and to the friends and family who helped get you there.
For example, you might pen a short note to those who wrote the reference letters for your college admissions process, something along the lines of:
Dear Mrs. _____,
I can't believe I'm now in my final year of college. It seems only yesterday that I approached you for a letter of reference for my college application packet. In this season of Thanksgiving, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your encouragement, both then and now. I will carry it with me into my upcoming student teaching and subsequent job search. I am hoping to land a teaching position in _____(teaching field) in the general vicinity of _______(desired job location).
Thank you again for your role in preparing me for my upcoming career.
You might even pave the way for a forthcoming request for a letter of reference for your portfolio with a note to a favorite professor. If you need a starter, try something like this:
Time flies! I know you teach an amazing number of students each year. So, although you may not realize it, I am now a senior; and I want you to know that the course(s) I took with you in ______ were some of my most meaningful. For example, I will always remember _____________ and look forward to sharing that with my own students in the near future. I will be student teaching this (fall/spring); and, in the spirit of the season, I find myself both reflective and thankful for the part your teaching played in preparing me.
- You can also begin now, in the privacy of your room or car, to perfect your OES. ("One-Minute Elevator Sound Bite") This will give you great practice for the upcoming campaign of letting everyone know that you have a job search underway. Picture the elevator doors opening to reveal an acquaintance whom you haven't seen in a while. After the usual hello and polite inquiry as to what your acquaintance may be up to, you'll have the opportunity to share some well-rehearsed words such as, "That sounds great! As for me, I'm on the home stretch these days, preparing for student teaching, followed by a job search for a teaching position in ______(teaching field), hopefully somewhere near _______(location). Do you know anyone in the education community there?"
The well-rehearsed short sound bite can also be deployed at holiday social gatherings. Practice it, in front of a mirror if you like. It will become natural, and you will become comfortable in letting everyone know of your desired career path.
All three of these autumnal preparatory job search strategies will take very little of your time but will establish you as a thoughtful, gracious candidate and launch your job search process well ahead of the intensity of the demands of your student teaching experience.