What Does Networking Mean for Teacher Candidates?
I recently attended the American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) national conference. The unique aspect of this association is that the membership consists of directors of university and college career centers and K-12 school district Human Resources directors. We had great conversations between institutions that train and provide teachers with those in school districts who want to hire them.
One topic caught my interest and I thought it was worth sharing in this career corner. School districts shared that teacher networking was valuable in the job search process but in the discussion, it was hard to define what that "networking" was for teacher candidates.
From my perspective teacher candidates could create and utilize their network in a variety of ways:
• Most programs require short field experiences in the junior year to explore a variety of school settings. In these field experiences, teacher candidates are likely to meet interesting teachers and school programs. It would be helpful to stay in touch with these teachers and start developing a network to come back to for possible student teaching experiences.
• Student teaching provides a wealth of networking possibilities. It provides the opportunity to meet new teachers who often are the first to know about future vacancies. Stay in touch with these teachers.
• Many professional organizations have student memberships. Joining an organization as a student member exposes teacher candidates to individuals that are active in their profession. These connections often can be productive in identifying potential vacancies. Active participation in an organization identifies you as a person who is actively engaged in the teaching profession.
• Attend as many seminars, career panels, mock interviews and similar venues as possible. You never know exactly when that right connection is made. As districts "fish in many ponds", be the fish that jumps in those many ponds.
• Consider joining social networks, especially those that have a professional connection like LinkedIn. These networks may connect you to someone who knows someone else.
• Don't be shy. Your personality may be such that you are reserved by nature. In the job search process, be as out-going as possible to let others get to know you.
• Use every advantage. If a friend or colleague knows someone who can assist you in the job search process, make the connection. I know I am repeating myself, however, you never know where that job offer is going to come from.
You have invested four, sometimes five years in the process of becoming a teacher. At the end of this journey, make the job search process a full-time job. Networking is an important process that experienced people utilize in finding new jobs. Use your networking skills to help you find the teaching job that is waiting for you.
Director of Human Resources
Aurora Public Schools, Colorado