Success Story | Reid Anderson, Art ILP

Name: Reid Anderson977012_4659257211429_1920464999_o.jpg
U of M program: Art Education
When did you graduate? Summer 2013
Employer: Eagle Ridge Academy (Eden Prairie, MN)
Position: Full-time K-6 Art Teacher
1. How did you learn about your current position?
I learned about the job before it was posted through a contact that I had within the school, and once I saw the official posting on EdPost and on the school’s website, I applied.
2. Describe the application and interview process.
I started frequently checking EdPost, K12JobSpot and district websites in March, but I got serious about applications in May when I was done with student teaching and had all of my letters of recommendation in hand. I attended the career fair at the convention center in April, and while that did not directly lead to any job opportunities, it gave me the motivation that I needed to finish my portfolio and gave me valuable experience interviewing and giving my “elevator speech” to district representatives. This experience was helpful, because I was able to anticipate the types of questions that interview committees would be asking and I also tweaked my portfolio after the job fair.
3. How did you make yourself stand out during the job search?
If you are looking for your first teaching job, it can be hard to stand out because employers are looking for “experience”. Beyond my student teaching experiences, I highlighted teaching-related jobs and volunteer experiences in my resume. The hiring committee noted an interest in my experiences as an undergrad with the Children’s Theatre Company and performing in puppet shows for kids at the Minnesota Zoo. I made my experiences relevant to teaching and showed an ability to be versatile, which they liked. Beyond that, I think that the U of M 5-year path that I took helped me stand out. As an undergrad I majored in art and was in DirecTrack to Teaching, and in my 5th year, I was enrolled in M.Ed. coursework.
4. Looking back, what did you find to be the most helpful during job search process?
I talked with a lot of current teachers. They helped me to understand the general hiring timeline of school districts and also gave me some ideas of what to highlight in my portfolio and in the interview. When I got the interview for this job, I researched the school’s website, Facebook account, teacher websites, and principal blogs. I also consulted a job search handbook that I received at a career services event, which had a lot of sample interview questions. Because of my thorough (at times crazy) research and preparation, I felt confident during the interview and was able to anticipate some of the questions that they asked me. Preparation is huge.
5. Did you utilize career services (on-campus interviews, career events, appointment(s), online resources)? If so, what was your experience like?
I frequently consulted the career services website when constructing my resume and writing cover letters and thank you emails to interviewers. I also had career services review my resume with me, which was a huge help.
6. What advice would you like to share with others about your experience finding a position?
Be confident in your education, your abilities, and your experiences. For every position there will be a lot of great applicants, but YOU are one of them…don’t forget that. Think about the things that make you unique, appear versatile and willing, and be persistent. The only jobs that I heard back from were the ones where I emailed principals and stayed in communication with the district. Of course, there is a fine line between being annoying and persistant, but a follow-up email/phone call 5-7 business days after applying is usually acceptable.
Also, if there is a school or district that you really want to work for, keep your eyes on their website, and if at all possible, make an inside connection. Some postings never make it to EdPost, and staff within the district always know about job openings before they hit the general public.