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How to Tell if a Career in Education is Right for You

“Is this the right place for me?”

Recruiters see the wheels turning in candidates’ heads all the time.

Many candidates and potential candidates wonder about whether or not teaching and TEAM is right for them.

Our teachers, non-instructional staff, and candidates come from all over the place, including a variety of non-education majors and previous private sector roles.

To answer this question, it comes down to an inward look at yourself and how you view the work that you do, rather than the particular training or career you’ve held.

Here’s a few quick places to look inwardly and figure this out for yourself. We’re just here to help.

You are Aligned to the School’s Mission

Your first step when investigating a potential employer should always be checking out their mission. In schools, it is just as important.

Take a look at a school’s mission. Does it resonate with you? It should if you’re going to switch careers or jobs or roles. It’s also going to be very important in the interview process. You need to know the mission and know whether it works for you.

You have Adaptable Skills

This area gets a little bit tricky. I’ll start by saying, most skills are adaptable into an education-based role. If you have training in a very specific niche (like web development for example), you may have to look at pretty big organizations to find a role for you, but there’s still a position out there somewhere for you.

More importantly, you need to know how to adapt your skills to a particular role.

Schools are complex. The laws surrounding how schools operate, especially in New Jersey, are pretty cumbersome. It takes flexibility and adaptability to learn how to take the skills and knowledge you have from your role and make it work in a school setting. You have to be ready to scrap what you know and figure out what is going to work sometimes, which, personally, can be really exciting.

You and the Organization have Similar Views of Teachers and Schools

This is important. Not all schools, CMOs or education roles are the same. They often have very different views on teachers and kids, which you should think about before you join. At TEAM, we think non-instructional people (like myself) are here to take distractions away from teachers and students. We can’t stand bureaucracy, and do whatever we can to eliminate it.

Other education organizations have different perspectives on their particular role in the education movement. They may resonate with you more than ours does. That’s okay. There is also a big difference between working in a school and working for companies that provide for schools or startups that develop new technology for the classroom. All of them are going to have very different philosophies on their role in education.

You Care About the Impact of Education

Similar to an organization’s mission, their way of having an impact will vary from place to place. Find a place that you can get behind. If you really like advocating for kids at a state level, there are roles that allow you to do that. Working in a small school probably isn’t one of them.

If you want to help students on the ground level, and work with them every day, you should probably look for a job that will allow for that. It really depends on where you fit into the educational puzzle, and how that corresponds to the positions you could land.

Put it All Together

In summary, look for:

  • Mission alignment
  • Places you can adapt your skills
  • A place that corresponds to your view on education
  • A place that will allow you to have an impact in the way you want

Once you figure out what you want to do and where you want to do it, build a killer resume and get the process started! Then, put together a great sample lesson (when applicable) to help you land a job you’ll love.

Did I miss something? Let me know below.

Michael Alderman is a staff writer and content manager for TEAM Schools. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter and interact with him there.

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Michael Alderman

Marketing and Communications Specialist at KIPP New Jersey
Michael is the marketing and communications specialist at KIPP New Jersey. You can contact Michael on Twitter @malderman_.

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  • Juwana Montgomery

    Beautiful writing!!!! I truly agree with your comments on the aligning yourself with the Mission of the school. Great job!