The hiring season is in full swing for many school districts across the country. If you’re anything like me, this means a strange mix of stress and excitement. You might be overwhelmed by the application process, or you might feel strange competing with your friends and colleagues for the same positions. I know a simple blog post isn’t going to offer much relief, but I’d like to share some of my experiences over the past couple of years.
- Dedicate yourself. Finding a job can and should be a full-time job in itself. If you’re serious about wanting to work in music education, you need to be serious about seeking opportunities. Job openings aren’t just going to fall into your lap, so you need to set time aside every day to search. Check your state’s music education association website for openings, contact former professors, talk to instrument sales reps, everything.
- Think outside the box…or state. If you’re willing to move, you’ll open up many more opportunities for yourself. I went to college in Michigan, but plenty of my classmates found work in places like Texas and Illinois. Even if you love your hometown, you’ll find that other areas of the country have a ton to offer.
- Make time for yourself. Even though you should be dedicating a good amount of time to finding a job, you’ll go insane if that’s all you do. Take some time each day to step away from the stress and do something enjoyable. For me, this meant running and playing soccer.
- See every interview as an opportunity. Sure, if an interview leads to a job offer, it’s easy to interpret it as an opportunity. But there’s something to be gained from rejection as well (take it from somebody who suffered many rejections before landing a job.) Each interview is a chance to hone your interview skills and make connections. If a panelist likes you, they may pass your resume along to another school district.
- Think positive. Do not let yourself worry about what the other candidates are doing in their interviews. All you can control is how you interview, so focus on knocking that out of the park. You put in the work in college, you’re a good musician…there is definitely a job out there for you. A positive mindset goes along way toward reducing the stress of the job hunt.
- Not finding work is not the end of the world. After graduating college, I spent a summer searching for jobs, and then a school year working as a substitute teacher. Subbing was a valuable experience; it helped me gain a year of teaching experience, and I made lots of connections. If you end up subbing, reach out to the music teachers in your area and let them know you’d love to work with their kids in the event of a sick day. I subbed for a pair of band directors 15-20 times over the course of the year, and it was their recommendation that helped me land my current job.
- Don’t limit yourself. In college, my goal was to work with high school students. I’m currently teaching 7th and 8th grade. During the job search, I applied for everything from grades 4-12. If you focus on a narrow age range, you’ll limit your opportunities.