Trying to find a job is tough business. Trying to find a job in education is even tougher. Especially nowadays. For one, job openings don’t pop up year-round and for another, there are A LOT of job-seeking teachers out there, unemployed and otherwise. I’ve been at this job hunting business for quite some time, about eight years now. I’ve had some jobs here and there, but I got to say, unless you know someone, unless you’ve got you’re foot in the door, it’s hard to even get called for an interview for a job opening. Here’s how I’ve gotten my jobs…
I started working as a substitute teacher at my Alma Mater during breaks while I was in college. I did this for a couple of years. After I graduated college, I applied for a few job openings; all but one of them resulted in the dreaded, “Thank you for your interest… we’ve filled the position… ” letter. I was fortunate enough to get one interview, but was informed that I just didn’t have the experience they were looking for. After that I worked a few odd jobs as a waitress, a receptionist, a purchasing clerk and a file clerk. Oh, and as a nanny over the summer months.
A year after I graduated, I was called by my Alma Mater and offered a long-term sub position, filling in for my former art teacher. Turns out my old art teacher had requested that I be hired for the position. I was flattered, but I also knew there were some circumstances that existed that weren’t necessarily ideal, so I turned the job down. The superintendent was persistent though, and I ended up taking the job. I was a K-12 art teacher for a little over a year. If you’ve never taught at a K-12 school, I don’t recommend it. It’s a lot of work. At any rate, after the contracted teacher returned from her leave, I was asked to be the long-term sub in the Home & Careers classroom at the same school. I lasted there for about three months. It was part-time, I was driving an hour and a half every day, and it just wasn’t worth it. I ended up taking a job as an office manager that paid $20/hour and offered full benefits.
I lasted a year and a half as an office manager. I hated it. I wasn’t cut out to work behind a desk day-in and day-out. I moved to a more populated part of the state and started working as a waitress by night and a substitute teacher by day in about 7 local school districts. I knew it was important to get yourself known in schools so when a job opened up, the schools were already familiar with you and had a face to put with your name, so-to-speak. I was working 12 hour days, 6 days a week. It was hard. I was exhausted, but I was making money and I was convinced, as soon as spring comes around, I’ll be golden and can walk right into a job.
Well, spring came, and not a single art job opened up. Not one. Knowing that I couldn’t possibly handle another year doing what I had been doing, I applied for a .40 K-6 position that opened up at a school back home. I was shocked when I was called for an interview (I had previously applied for this position right after graduation and had received one of those letters). Long story short, I got the job. I think it helped that I had gained experience as a long-term sub in a neighboring school district and that one of the teachers in the interview knew my sister. So, I was a .40 elementary art teacher and a .60 building sub for about two years. If you’ve never had this experience, let me tell you, it’s not that great. You do all the work of a full-time teacher with none of the perks. No benefits, no union support, no voice…. (If you really want to know what it’s like, check out A Day in the Life…)
And that was the last job I really had. I moved to Virginia for a few months before returning to NY to finish up my Master’s degree. I’m currently working as a grad assistant, and I have my name in for subbing in about five local school districts. I’ve been in the subbing system since October. It’s now March and I haven’t subbed a single day yet. Why? I don’t know. My guess is that there are SO many unemployed teachers out there that there are a plethora of subs. And I’m new to the area, so no one knows my name, or my face.
So the point of this post, GET YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR! Be patient. You may have to suffer through some horrendous subbing experiences before you land that ideal position. Also, network, network, network. Get out there and meet other art teachers. Meet other teachers. Meet anyone. You can’t rely on your resume alone to get you an interview.
Have a similar experience? Have a different experience? Have any advice for job seekers? Please, share!