Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Applying for your first job

Three years ago I was in the middle of applying for my first teaching job. I was in my last year at uni, so I didn’t finish my degree yet. Since I wanted to start working right after uni, without a gap year, it was time to get started.

I actually started applying in January of 2014, so during the Christmas holidays I put everything together, ready to start sending applications to schools. We have a great website here in Switzerland, where you can see which schools are looking for teachers in the new school year, what grade they want etc.

I was very happy with my title page and of course also my CV and everything else needed. I got invited for my first job interview in January and the week after I had another one. We learned what to prepare at uni, but I was so nervous. They both went ok and I got more secure. A few weeks later I got a rejection from both schools though. The reason was that I don’t have the experience. Well, how do you want me to have the experience, if I come straight from uni?!

I continued applying and got invited again and again. However, there came rejection after rejection. Experience was a popular reason, sometimes they preferred a man (not many male primary school teachers out there) or they took somebody, who did their internship at that school. That meant that during their studies at uni, they had their practical training at the school. If you’re doing a great job then, it’s an advantage, because you know the teachers, the principal and maybe even the kids. I went to uni in another area, further away from home, so for me the question of applying at these schools never came up. On top of that, these schools didn’t have an open position anyway.

Although I went to uni a bit further away from home, I knew from the start that I wanted a job close by in the state I grew up. I just love the area and the salary is a bit higher. So, it’s no surprise that I limited my applications to that area. At first anyway…

After getting rejection after rejection I started opening up the area and also applied at schools in other states, but still close by.

I knew that I wanted 5th or 6th grades, so I never applied for 1st and 2nd grade and only considered a few jobs for 3rd and 4th grade. A lot of people thought that was a mistake, but I don’t regret it. It’s the grade/level I want to teach and I want to be happy in what I do.

Most of my friends at uni got their jobs pretty fast, after one or two applications and more and more got the yes. This was very hard, seeing all the people around my getting their teaching job and me, still searching. There was a lot of crying, but I never started doubting myself, it’s their loss right?! That’s very important! Never give up and believe in yourself, it’s fine to cry, it’s fine to be disappointed and you need time to get over it, but then get up again and fight.

The process of some school was very disappointing. From one school I got a rejection email an hour after my job interview. Some just took forever to decide and other never answered and after weeks they finally sent back my application. I had one principal, who said I wasn’t ready yet, but I didn’t like the school anyway.

It’s very vital that you yourself have a good feeling about the place and the people as well, otherwise you just won’t feel comfortable.

It was very interesting to see, how the schools did their job interview. In most of them I had the interview with one, two or maybe three people. So there was the principal, maybe a teacher teaching the same grade level and one other teaching, who is responsible for the kids who need more attention.

Well, anyway, I had to wait until the middle of my final exams in June to finally get a job. I had a job interview in May with the big boss of the school and then another one in June with the director of the school and the primary school principal. It’s a private school, so the process was a bit different. A few days later I got the YES and it was the best thing to happen to me.

A job at a bilingual primary school! I always had in the back of my head that working at an International School would be great, because I love languages and the international atmosphere. Now, three days later I’m still there and still very happy with what I’m doing.

So, I guess my main message is that applying for your (first) job is hard, full of ups and downs and not as easy as it looks. The main thing is to stay confident and never give up!!!

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