Hunting the Smaller Jungle: The Search for Teaching Positions at Two-Year Colleges

In the market for a teaching job? Need some advice? Read  this post by MAE student Sabrina Martin about her own struggle looking for teaching jobs at two-year colleges.

For some newly admitted graduate students, this winter term will be the first in their journey towards their MA here at DePaul. For others, such as myself, it will be a time to juggle thesis research, requirement completion, and the dreaded job search, which will inevitably overtake our every waking moment.

If you’re like me, you will sift through hundreds of job postings online, hoping to find a position that you’re qualified for.

The first step: Don’t be discouraged. There are jobs out there, if you are willing to do what the schools need you to. So here are some helpful beginning tips that I’ve learned as I’ve stumbled through the application process.

  • Apply EARLY. This means now. If you go to HigherEdJobs.com or The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Job page right now, you will see hundreds upon hundreds of institutions whose deadlines have already passed for the Fall 2011 term. The earlier you apply, the larger your job pool is, and the higher chance of you finding a job that fits.
  • Ask for your letters of recommendation (LORs) EARLY. I waited until nearly the deadline to ask for my letters, and then frantically bit my nails to nubs until they were submitted. If you notify your professors and professional acquaintances of your upcoming applications, it gives them that much more time to prepare a statement that adequately expresses their beliefs in your abilities.
  • INTERFOLIO is a God-send. Yes, it will cost you money. But this is your career, and their rates are reasonable. Interfolio is an online portfolio service. Essentially, you pay the service to maintain confidential LORs for you. When it comes time to submit the supplemental documents to your application, simply head off to Interfolio.com, input the contact information, and viola! they will send them. The service allows your recommenders to write ONE confidential letter of recommendation (which, by the way, is much more powerful in an application than a non-confidential letter) for the 30+ schools you are applying to. Yes, your teachers adore you. No, they do not want to write the same letter for you 30 times. It’s just efficient.
  • Address your cover letters to the person who will be viewing your applications. While it may not always say a specific person to whom you should address the application, (in fact, many times it will only say “Search Committee” or “Human Resources Director” at best) it is better to do a little digging to put a real name on the top of that letter. Often, it is as simple as making a call to the Human Resources department of the institution and asking for the name of the Director. This small step takes 3 minutes tops, and will instantly make your letter appear more thoughtful than the 100’s of form letters that will read “To Whom It May Concern.”

These tips merely serve as an introduction to job searching. However, I can tell you that this approach will not only present you at your best, it will also make the process go much more smoothly for you. Planning is essential—that’s why starting early and asking for recommendations in advance of deadlines are so critical to applicants’ success.

In my next installment, I will be discussing how to make the most of your internship and professional experience—even if you’ve never had a full time teaching position before. In the meantime, you might want to check out HigherEdJobs.com, or The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Job page to see what is available.

Please comment if you have any questions on this process. I’m no pro, but as someone who is going through it, I can offer any advice I have.

3 thoughts on “Hunting the Smaller Jungle: The Search for Teaching Positions at Two-Year Colleges

  1. Thanks for this post, Sabrina. Soon enough I’ll be applying for an academic position. Advice like this is very helpful. As a first-year MAWP student, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on the internship.

    Good luck in your search!

    1. Once you’re graduated, I would also encourage you to respond to the emails the English department sents out with last-minute request for teachers. Our program has a great rep, and I was able to land an adjunct position by responding to one of these requests. In my career, I’ve found it’s much easier to find a job within your field while you’re working in it. Great post!

  2. Thanks everyone for your responses. And Ashley, what a great suggestion. Adjunct positions are a great place to begin, and can sometimes develop into full-time positions.

    Shane, good luck to you when you begin applying. The search can seem daunting at first, but I can tell you it’s best to just apply to every position you are qualified for. Even if it doesn’t result in a full-time position, the interview and application experience is invaluable.

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