I am a senior and, upon graduating and leaving the comforts of the Purple Valley, I would like to be a teacher. Like many other seniors trying to get teaching jobs this year, I have not always thought I wanted to teach. I mean, who in their right mind would want to return to the academic world after finally completing 17 long, hard years of school? What kind of life is that for a 22 year old? As I realized this summer while leading an adventure trip for high school aged students, it turns out to be a great life for recent college grads. Not only do I love working with children, but I am actually looking forward to returning to school. To be honest, it’s the world that I know best – and you certainly can’t beat the vacation time.
After reaching this decision, I did what any senior does when facing the crisis of real life: I went to the Office of Career Counseling (OCC). I walked in feeling rather satisfied with myself because I knew exactly what I wanted to do and, in this competitive world in which we live, that put me way ahead of most of my peers. Because I had already made a good number of decisions myself, the OCC was rather helpful. They gave me the standard laundry list of things to do during my search and talked me through the process of how to become a teacher. In a rather quick and straightforward meeting, I learned about teacher placement agencies, credentials files, personal school research, and, of course, alumni connections.
Man, I thought as I left, that was easy. Ever since, I have been pacing myself rather nicely through the search process and things are proceeding quite well. Yet how helpful is the OCC for future teachers? When asked this question, I realized that I haven’t really been back there since I received my checklist and made my personal schedule.
For me, the OCC was great for starting me in the right direction. But can they actually help one determine if one would be happy and successful in the teaching world? And furthermore, do they have the resources to support the overwhelmingly large amount of people whom they recommend to teach?
It seems that the field of teaching is an easy suggestion for the OCC to make to the liberal arts student who doesn’t really know what he wants to do with his life. If the senior is uninterested in banking or consulting or graduate school, the only option left seems to be teaching. Or at least that is how many seniors feel. While teaching is certainly an admirable and rewarding profession, and while there will always be a need for qualified and effective teachers, many future teachers at Williams feel that the OCC simply recommends the field of teaching to people in the absence of creative career suggestions. This phenomenon seems to be particularly prevalent this year as a result of the decrease in the availability of other jobs. Does the OCC prepare all the people that they recommend to teach for how hard and demanding the job is? Not really.
Perhaps what is most upsetting is that the OCC cannot support the number of seniors that they advise to teach in terms of on-campus interviews and listings of open positions. While they are encouraging more and more people to search for a teaching job, it does not appear as though they are increasing the resources available.
While the OCC certainly has great suggestions for how to go about searching for a position as a teacher, I have found that, like with most everything in life, it is ultimately up to the individual senior to find himself such a job.