Or "The Craziest Gathering of Desperate Unemployed Teachers And The Administrators Trying Their Best to Fend Them Off."
I went to my first one ever on Saturday. Nearly every hour since then, I've been wondering how I can write all my thoughts on the thing. I had so many thoughts. I still have so many thoughts on it. Chronological order seems to be the most logical way for me to put down those thoughts so that they make some sort of sense.
6:00 AM - Wake up. The fair is about an hour's drive away from my house. I would like to get there early. Ate breakfast. Prepared some coffee and tea for travel. Made a final check of my portfolio and resume copies.
7:15 AM - Leave the house. Mo wanted me to stay home and play. I did too, but that would have to wait.
7:30 AM - Turned on traffic radio. Big rig jack-knifed on my route to the fair. Awesome.
7:32 AM - Radio people said the back-up was on the eastbound. Yay! I'm on westbound, and I was planning on going a different route to come home anyway. No traffic worries for once.
8:15 AM - Arrive at fair site. It's a high school, a pretty cool one. The school is on a hillside, so the buildings are terraced. Sit in car for a bit to gather thoughts and relax.
8:25 AM - Enter building. Many, many, many people. Ug, crowds. I'm not always at my best in a crowd.
8:38 AM - Arrive at the top of my first line. Introduced myself to woman at table. Awkward pause, since I didn't know what to say next. She helped by asking me what kind of credential I hold. Naively, I say multiple subject. She replies that they weren't hiring for MS but gave me an application to fill out for their files anyway.
8:39 AM - I wait in my second line of the day while filling out the first form.
8:49 AM - Got to top of 2nd line. No go for MS credentials again, but there was an elementary school principal willing to talk - however, not willing to make contact and exchange cards.
9:12 AM - Top of 3rd line. Extra surly handouts and applications "for file." Same story with no hires for MS. By this time, I'm thinking I really should play up my middle school math credential more.
9:27 AM - Had a long conversation at my 4th table with a really nice and energetic man about, guess what! The same story! He talked to three of us job seekers at once, which was maybe why he was so energetic. He could tell the same story two times less that day. One of the other women in my group was extremely loud, with a very grating laugh. She flirted mightily. Table Dude inched a little away from her. I did too.
9:31 AM - 5th table. I changed my story to 7-9th grade math. They are hiring for that! Everything is online, so be sure to check Edjoin! The lady I talked to was a part-time principal at one of the schools I taught art at. Question that went through my mind, but didn't ask: What on earth is a "part-time" principal?
9:32 AM - 6th table. I was pretty tired by this time. Woman at table intercepted me, asked about my credential, and turned me away because they were only looking for special education people. I opened my mouth to ask something and she cut me off before I could make a sound. I tried again, got cut off again. She did not give her name. She did not ask for mine. Thought: well, THAT doesn't come across as a place where teaching talent is nurtured. That is a place where they only want something out of you and won't be willing to provide any professional development in return.
9:45 AM -7th table. FREAKING LONG LINE. Finally got to the table.....and snagged a spot on the interview schedule for middle school math teachers! w00t! It's at 11:45. Crap. I have to hang out for another two hours. Potty and stretch break.
10:00 AM - Returned to the gym (which is where the fair is held). Many people have left by now. I stop by the county office of education table (needs staff for things like adult school and such). Scan all the various for-profit "universities" lining the room. Wondered what the requirements for special education credentials were and asked at the credentials table. They told me to ask at each of the "universities" table. Which means each one will have something different to tell me so I might as well look it up on the CCTC website. Killed some time filling out the applications I had picked up along the way and returning them to the tables I got them from.
11:15 AM - On the advice of a fellow job seeker, I meandered back to Table #1 and asked about their math teacher openings. The math person overheard me talking to their front-person and offered to interview me right there and then. Had a pretty nice conversation.
11:30 AM - Got back to the table where my appointment was. Many people were there. People without appointments. Two dudes in suits and messenger bags were ahead of me. They did not have appointments. They could have been metrosexual twins, except one dude was Black and the other whiter-than-paper.
11:50 AM - The interviewees finally got to me. They all knew my name from the list. Had a nice conversation too. I could have used more academic teacher terms, but I was tired. I was cranky at the two non-appointment dudes who cut in front of me, even though I had been asking the staff that were walking around if they could show me to my appointment spot - and the non-appointment dudes heard me. I know they did. They looked right at me, and STILL went ahead of me.
Anyway, it was a pretty teacher-teacher conversation. Something you would find in a professional, polite staff lounge than in an interview. I'm sure they were pretty tired too. They invited me to visit their school. I think I will.
12:10 PM - Left the fair happy to have learned tons and to have landed two talks with real people who were involved in the hiring process. Don't think I actually have a chance, but at least I wasn't rude to anyone, like the Non-Appointment Dudes. Or obnoxious, like the Loud Laugh Woman. Or Unprofessional Gossipers like nearly everyone else, especially the ones who haven't graduated yet.
I overheard a lot of things at the job fair. Some things I learned:
- Keeping it real and sincere is my style. I'm looking for a job placement, yes. I'm also looking for a place where the people are friendly and helpful, and where I can fit in. I want to present myself in a way that won't make me cringe later.
- I'm pretty lucky that I'm not in any rush to find a job. Well, no, I WANT to find a full-time position as soon as possible. But I'm fortunate enough to not feel the urgency that being unemployed brings. I'm thankful that there are more opportunities for me outside of this one job fair.
-I'm also thankful that there are more opportunities for me outside of any one location or position or time.
- I would definitely NOT have been so relaxed and laid back if I went to my first job fair this time last year. I would have been a nervous wreck, making all sorts of professional and personal faux paux. I'm glad I had an extra year to mature into a comfortableness with myself.
I'm planning on going to another job fair about two weeks from now. Definitely will play up the middle school math thing first thing. Won't even talk about the MS until someone asks specifically what credentials I hold.