Saturday, November 15, 2014

Diversity Career Fair at Cascadia College

Several weeks ago I got an email asking if I would like to come to a job fair sorta thing at Cascadia College. Since I'll be jumping into the job market, I figured why not and signed up. Cascadia College is one of the many community colleges in the surrounding area.

I'm going to share some highlights from going to this event and remarks on my experience.

Keynote & Networking Tables

The keynote was given by Jason Smith a Dean at Cascadia College. He talked about himself and he was a fun speaker. But he made some good points and one of which was to not think about things that you think would hold you back. For example, he said apply to a job even if you don't think you meet the criteria but that it excites you.

But he also gave some really great pointers on applying to jobs in this field in general. For one he said hiring committees are looking for experience working with teams, people who have cultural competence and who can have fun.  He also said that it's important we align our CV and resume with the institution's we want to work at. All of that makes sense, right!

Networking around the tables was quite productive. Here other colleges were represented either by HR teams or actual coordinators and faculty. Everett College seemed there in force and were really enthusiastic about my resume and interest. I spoke with other deans at other colleges and basically what I was told was to forward over my resume and then when job postings come up apply to them. A lot of them said that the next hiring they will do will be for the spring, which fits perfectly with my schedule. So I guess I might be a little early in my job hunt here, but I'm going to keep an eye out for sure.

Overall, I know I'm not that great when it comes to "working" the tables, but I gave it my best and did hand out a name card!

"What's a teaching demo"
By: Margaret "Peg" Balachowski (Everett College)

This was a good one hour presentation about the teaching demo that happens during the hiring process. It was also wrapped around general things that colleges are looking for in candidates. I found myself feeling really grateful to have been in my MA TESOL program at Seattle University because the presenter mentioned several key points in adult learning and that it helps if we know them, I was like "I know them!" Active-learning, learning styles, assessments, Kolb's Cycle...yep I've studied it!

Another key theme that was in her presentation but also in pretty much every other one, was that of "Do your homework". Meaning investigate the institution and get to know their mission, policies and overall agenda. This gives you credibility and foundations for which to do a teaching demo...etc.

For the teaching demo some good points she made was after you are given your teaching topic to research what would have been taught in the program before and after it. This way you can make sure you are aligned with their standards. Also she said to be prepared, stay on topic and know your audience (not the committee, the students).

I think I would be excited to give a teaching demo, but I would just be excited if they called me back for an interview.

Application and Interviewing Basics

This was put on by an HR person, so it was giving us insider knowledge. I was feeling pretty confident about everything until I came to this workshop. Here I was reminded of the hoops we have to jump through just to get our stuff to a hiring committee. I believe I have a good resume and cover letter built up but I was reminded that a second look is always good.

My lack of 2 solid years of adult education / ESL experience shows on my resume. I hope if I back that up on my Cover Letter and explain it that it moves me past HR. I'll try my best...that's all I can do.

One thing I like that she mentioned was to use key words from the job ad or in the industry in your resume and cover letter. Because HR does a lot of quick scanning of resumes they often use word-finding tools to find keywords. Other good tips were to be accurate in formatting and it helps if you have consistent date months and years for everything.

Start Smart and Stay Strong: Interview Tips for the First and Last 5 Minutes
Jeanne Leader (Everett College)

This was a fun last workshop of the day and I was reminded of how I actually enjoy interviews but it can be quite challenging to talk about yourself. She mentioned how to take special care of the first five minutes and to give a brief and on the point introduction of yourself. She also said to think of 6 values that describe yourself and then see how you can expand those into a story about your skills and experience.

She also mentioned that for the end of the interview to have questions prepared and to even tell a short little story about yourself. Perhaps a "take-away" thought on the whole thing.

What was interesting is her suggestion to make a small handout that has a fun image or design about yourself that they can have to keep. I wasn't sure about this, but it sounds like a workable idea.

Overall, the whole thing was quite invigorating and I feel like I understand better what they are looking for, what the hiring process is about and how I fit in to all of that. I definitely have some revising and editing to do on my own paperwork, but at least it's a step forward.

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