Have a looming service gap on an otherwise stellar teaching resume? Spend your summer or holiday break gaining valuable experience in mentoring, tutoring, or volunteering. These activities will help guide you toward your career goals, while filling any empty spots in your resume. Here are a few ways you can round out your resume and gain career-building experience.
Determine Where You Want to Go
Because new roles are opening up every day, honing skills that make you successful in any job can pay off. According to an article in Forbes, service learning helps develop skills that all employers want, including critical thinking, people management, negotiation, oral and written communication, and cognitive flexibility. Before you begin your service project, it's important to develop your long-term career goals. Once you know where you want to go, you can find service opportunities that can help you get there.
Single-subject degrees in math, science, business, or teaching can provide a great foundation. Some service opportunities allow you to further develop your skills in these subjects by teaching young students science, for example, or running coding workshops for young entrepreneurs. These opportunities help you achieve your career goals by strengthening your subject-specific knowledge and gaining real-world experience.
Join a Service Organization
Service is a critical, but often neglected, part of a teacher's resume. My colleague, Carmen, joined AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs that seeks to improve lives and foster civic engagement. Members address critical community needs by increasing academic achievement, mentoring youth, and fighting poverty. During her time in AmeriCorps, Carmen worked in three different schools, ultimately realizing that she wanted to be a full-time teacher. Through AmeriCorps, Carmen learned how to manage projects, coordinate with others, and make decisions—skills that helped her shine during interviews for teaching positions.
City Year is another service program that works to close gaps in high-need schools by supporting students' academic and social-emotional development. Similarly, Job Corps, which helps train students for careers, uses employment platforms to find opportunities for students, while the Peace Corps is a two-year commitment to boosting economic development around the world. Joining a service organization allows you to help others while gaining unparalleled experience for your teaching resume.
STEM teachers are in high demand, and volunteering can be a great way to enter this teaching area. My colleague, Don, worked in finance, but after a layoff, he decided to pursue his first loves: science and teaching. He worked as a volunteer at the Museum of Science and the local aquarium to gain valuable experience that helped boost his resume. Similarly, my friend Cathy worked as a tour guide on the Freedom Trail in Boston, which certainly helped when she applied for a social studies position. In fact, museums and sightseeing routes across the country always need volunteers. If you're hoping to get a teaching job in history, you could be a tour guide at Independence Hall in Philadelphia or work at the 9/11 Tribute Museum in New York City. If you're looking for a position in art, working at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City would be perfect. Each of these options will fill the service gap on your resume and help steer you toward your career goals.
Become a Tutor or Mentor
During college, my friend Lesley mentored and tutored students at a summer youth camp, which is a common and helpful addition to any career plan. The experience required her to be creative, and it increased her emotional intelligence, improving both her teaching abilities and her resume. From outdoor activities to skill-building workshops, summer camps have countless volunteer opportunities and are popular across the country. Code for Fun and freeCodeCamp, for example, are nonprofit organizations that use interactive online platforms to teach kids web development and how to code. These organizations are always looking for volunteers, and this kind of service helps you stay connected with students while building your resume.
Teach Abroad or Online
Career planning doesn't always work out the way you think. After graduating from Harvard, my friend Denny, now a middle school English language arts teacher, took a job teaching English in Japan, a place he had visited during high school. Denny told me, "Though I would never have imagined it at the time, it did give me a skill set that helps to this day."
Further reading: Nail Your First Teaching Job Interview and Demonstration Lesson
Like Denny, many teachers can improve their instructional practices while teaching abroad, and there are a number of ways to get involved. My friend Justin applied to places like HESS International Educational Group, the single largest provider of English education in Taiwan. Carney Sandoe and Associates has also placed more than 32,000 teachers and administrators in independent schools all over the world.
If traveling isn't an option, consider teaching online as a way to boost your resume. My colleague, Keaney, is taking time off from her full-time teaching job and working with VIPKID to help children in China learn how to speak English. Programs like these allow you to work flexible hours from home while gaining experience that looks great on a teaching resume.
Through these programs, Denny, Justin, and Keaney gained impressive experience that would make them stand out in teaching interviews, such as language proficiency, cultural immersion, and time management.
Learn About (or Live in) Another Country
Teachers who want to teach a foreign language typically spend a semester abroad in a country where the language is spoken. But academic time is not the only time to gain valuable language experience. Time working the surf stand in Costa Rica, where you honed you Spanish-speaking skills, is valuable to any employer. Making crepes in France while practicing your French-speaking skills is also perfect for your resume. Having spent time immersed in a language looks great on any teaching application, whether or not you're a foreign language teacher. Building cultural awareness and sensitivity is valuable to all employers, especially schools.
Further reading: Highlighting Your Past Teaching Experience in Interviews
There are a ton of ways you can boost your teaching resume while gaining unparalleled experience and having fun. The first step is identifying your career goals. Once you've done that, find a service or volunteering position that will help you get there.