Hunting the Smaller Jungle: How to Make the Most of Your Part-time Experience

Sabrina Martin continues her series on applying for teaching positions at two-year colleges. In this installment, she discusses how to apply your part-time work experience to a teaching job. Read her first article, “The Search for Two-Year Teaching Positions.”

Now that you’ve started looking for two-year college teaching positions, you might be wondering, “How can I make the most of my part-time experience?” If you’ve never had a full time teaching position, you can still obtain a full time job- you just have to know how to present your experiences.

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way encouraging the use of falsification on your applications. This post isn’t about how to fluff up your experience, but about how to make the most of the experience you do have.

As I’ve written before, I’ve already been applying for teaching positions whose due dates have passed, even though I haven’t officially started my internship at Harold Washington College. When describing my internship in an application, I explain what I intend to do. However, one excellent internship is not enough to fill a whole page of a resume. Then what?

Look at instances where you may have taught, but perhaps didn’t categorize it as such.

For example, as an undergraduate, I was hired as a private tutor for a family with three children, assisting with homework and projects ranging from elementary to high school level work. Yes, this isn’t specific teaching in the classroom, but it does give a search committee more insight into who you are capable of teaching (the larger the age range that can benefit from your teaching, the better). Another example: I tutor a graduate student from South Korea. I am not an ESL instructor, but any experience you have with English as a Second Language is helpful.

Make the most of your professional experience, even if it is not in academia.

I work as an office manager for a small architecture and engineering firm in Chicago. Answering phones, responding to emails, scheduling meetings, and arranging executive travel may not seem like experience that would make me a good faculty member. Yet now they know that I am willing to help with any task, big or small, and that I do not limit myself to my office and my classroom.

Acknowledge in your cover letter how these experiences will make you a more helpful and committed faculty member.

The search committee wants more than just a great teacher, especially at a two-year college. They want someone who is willing to lend an extra hand, whether that means serving on committees, writing grant proposals, or even sponsoring a student group. To the search committee, a good applicant is someone who would make a good colleague.

I know that these experiences do not apply to everyone; however, if you think back to your undergraduate years, I would bet there are experiences that demonstrate your teaching abilities and strong communication skills that you may have overlooked.

For some helpful hints on resume and cover letter writing, check out the Purdue OWL.

Next time, I’ll be discussing some quick tricks to make your applications stand out.

Please leave any comments and questions you may have for me!

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