>Yesterday was the TeachOhio job fair sponsored (I believe) by Ohio State. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, since the Association of Christian Schools International job fair I went to back in November was very different from your typical education job fair experience. I had some doubts about just how useful it was going to be, since many of the schools to which I have already applied were not even going to be at TeachOhio, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go for the experience. Here is a chronicle of my experience, hoping it will help anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation.
10:00 pm Wednesday: Leave the Digital Union after spending 2.5 hours burning my teaching DVD, which I didn’t even need for the job fair but just wanted to finish now so I didn’t have to do it later.
11:00 pm: Fall into bed after stuffing mini-portfolios. Resolve not to wake up before 6:00 am the next morning.
5:54 am Thursday: Wake up.
6:15 am: Finally find link to print paid receipt on TeachOhio web site.
6:30 am: Decide not to wear a grey skirt with my pink sweater because then I would be color-coordinated with my resume. That would just be too much, even for me.
7:20 am: Arrive at the building and see a line of ambitiously dressed people snaking out the door. Contemplate turning around and going to school instead.
7:25 am: See friend Lauren from cohort in line and chat for the next 35 minutes about, among other things, gravity, cohort calling, mavericks, and refusing to wear suits.
8:00 am: Running of the Teachers, second only to Running of the Brides at Filene’s. Again contemplate turning around and going home. Large suburban districts get mauled by ambitiously dressed hordes. I head for small charter school’s lonely table and schedule an interview at 10:15.
8:15-9:15 am: Wander around the auditorium trying to find more schools to pretend to be interested in. Schedule another appointment with a random district at 1:30.
9:18 am: Miss a phone call from the principal of a school in northwest Ohio at which I interviewed last week (I’ll call it District A) and where I am scheduled for a second interview on Monday. Voicemail expresses appreciation for the thank-you letter I sent and asks me to call her back. Leaves office and cell phone number.
9:25 am: I call back and get the answering machine. Thus begins 3 hours of phone tag…
10:15 am: Speak with a representative from a charter school (School B) in central Ohio. I feel like he talked more than I did, which was surprising. It does sound like a place where I would enjoy working, plus it is closer to where I live now than the school I’d already interviewed with.
10:45 am: Wonder out loud to friend: “What do I do if District A makes an offer before School B even calls back?!” Friend’s advice: “Say yes, go home, and take a nap.” My response: “But Iiiiiiii…”
11:00 am: Out to lunch with some colleagues who are awaiting afternoon interviews.
11:15 am: Peruse the Pei Wei menu and think wistfully about real Chinese food.
12:30 pm: Finally hear back from District A principal, who informs me that the committee was unanimous in its decision and would like to offer me a job.
12:32 pm: Regain power of speech, thank principal and arrange to visit the school on Monday.
12:45 pm: Cancel 1:30 interview, go home to take a nap.
I’ve heard from several classmates that they found TeachOhio rather disappointing, and I have to agree that it was rather useless for me except to complicate what should really be a straightforward acceptance decision. (More on that at some point.) Nevertheless, here is my advice for positive job fair and/or interview experiences:
- Research ahead of time the schools that will be there to decide where you want to try and get an interview, looking specifically for districts that are hiring teachers with your certification. Prioritize the list, keeping in mind that prestigious districts will have a long line. Waiting in those may jeopardize your chances of getting any interviews at all.
- Bring plenty of resumes and some mini-portfolios if you have time to assemble them. My plan was to give portfolios to any school/district with which I had an interview scheduled. At the ACSI job fair in November, I had a recruiter follow me out of the building to compliment my professionalism and intentionality because he’d seen the portfolios I brought.
- Bring your own typed nametag with your name and licensure. Our program supplied us with nametags in plastic clip-on sleeves and recruiters could see at a glance whether they were interested in speaking to us further.
- Bring a subtle bag to stash portfolios and resumes in so you are free to shake hands.
- Send real, snail mail thank-you letters, especially after interviews.