Monday, March 2, 2009

Job Fair – Round One

So today I ventured out to a new experience, one that I had heard a lot about but not experienced – the job fair. So this morning I got up and put on my Sunday best and headed out to a school and into the dog pen. I got here, along with a lot of other people, a little early and got registered. Then I stood in line and waited, and waited, and waited some more for the doors to open. Then finally they did and all of us, I would have to guess somewhere around 550 teachers, educators, and support staff all searching for a job.

So there I was, a student teacher thrown into a huge gym full of people. Armed with my resume and a smile I approached my first school district to talk to them. Of course there were lines, but some places were worse than others. Last night I made my short list of schools that I was interested in, so I started off there. The format is that prospective educators have about two minutes to impress the representatives of the district with the few words and ideas that you have. So that’s what I did, I said a few things about student teaching, technology, finishing my degree program, and then trying to ask a question to keep the conversation going. From there they would probably tell me, at least at most places, that they do not have any openings right now. So I would hand them my resume, tell them thank you, and then move on.

That’s what I found in a lot of districts, but in just a few I had a little more luck. If you make it past the first round of interrogation and approval, then they grant you a thirty minute interview later in the day. At first I started to wonder if I would even get any interviews. I kept getting turned down by school district after school district, because of a lack of openings. As I was waiting in line I met a friend who chatted with me for a while and then she encouraged me to throw my plan out the window. My short list, what did it really matter? Of course, make sure that I hit those schools, but other than that I have nothing holding me to Denver. Why not go around to every table and get my information out. So that’s what I did, I hit them all up. Mostly I got turned down, time and time again. One school district in particular would not even look at student teachers. Which, I think is good for the students and parents in their district, but some student teachers are fantastic and I think worth looking at – I am included. However, I guess I somewhat understand the policy. That was frustrating; however this market is hard. The jobs are few and far between, so I kept trying. Then I finally got a huge break with a large district outside of Denver and that made me really excited. From there I tried a few other places and then started getting the line, “We would love to interview you today, but our sheet is already filled up.” They only have so much time to interview so many candidates, it makes sense, but I feel like they fill them on a first come, first serve basis, which I believe they are leaving out some quality candidates. I was excited, though, because even one school district told me, “We’re really interested and if anything opens up today, like someone does not show up for an interview, I will call you.” That was really nice to hear. In addition, I also got an interview at a smaller district that will serve as a preparation for the larger school district. I was able to schedule it right before too, so that was a good thing.

All in all, there were a lot of people, a lot of standing in line, and very little progress. A few interviews, that was good, but overall I’m still not ready for school on Monday and this ate up my day. I understand that finding a job is really important, but I want to make sure that it is worth my time. Many of these districts were like, did you apply online? To which I thought; No, if I had time I might take you up on that. Which leads me to the kicker – It will be this week when I carve out time for me to actually get on the computer and actually get things situated. I am watching a few other school districts and a few other jobs around the state and this week I have to make time to start applying.

So my first interview was with the really small school district. It was good to go in there, see what questions they had, and then move from there. They strongly encouraged me to apply to their open position.

My second interview was with an interviewee that was really excited to meet me and interview me. My interviewer was really impressed with my resume and “everything I had done in my short life.” She said, “It was one of the best resumes I have seen in a while,” which made me feel good about my accomplishments and that my resume was attracting attention. From there she asked me a few standard questions about education, teaching, and then she asked me about publishing relevant material. I took that and ran with it. I showed her how my students were publishing to Wiki spaces, blogging, Fishbowling in class, and really publishing to the world. I also told her about how we are using cell phones in the classroom and really trying to make the content that the students write worth while to the students and publishable to the world. From question three on, I do not think she went back to the “prepared questions.” Instead, we just had a chat about engagement, technology, teaching, and middle school students. At the end of the interview, my interviewer strongly encouraged me to apply for a recent posting of an opening at 7th and 8th grade. I was a little hesitant at first to even think about and acknowledge teaching middle school students, but then my interviewer told me a little bit more about the school district and how it is growing and how it passed a very large bond last year. To that end, they will be hiring many teachers and spending a lot of money on technology and a brand new P-20 school that will open in 2011 I believe. So it was a great interview that actually went over time, but made me excited for teaching and the prospect of a job in the near future.

This whole career fair thing is very daunting at first and even seemed like part of it was not worth it, but I really felt that at the end of the day I had two good jobs to look into and start applying to. I had built up confidence in my skills, resume, and presentation, which all was very helpful, and I had even had some interview experience. Now off to the search for the online applications and the time to fill them out. The search continues, but all in all it was a good day.