About two years ago, I drove by the Lake Elsinore bloom on my way to Anza Borrego. The bloom looked pretty but not spectacular. So, when my best friend Sarah, who lives nearby in Temecula, invited me out for an early hike on a Saturday in Lake Elsinore to see the flowers, I shrugged and said yes because I hadn’t seen her for a while and I also haven’t hit the trail for quite some time.
It was an absolutely spiritual experience. Nothing can come close to describing the beauty of millions of golden poppies opening up for the gentle morning sun with flocks of painted ladies alighting gently on said flowers. Sitting up high overlooking this spectacle, I felt hope that even though we see so much darkness and death in the world everything was going to be okay. After years of drought and fire and death, here is Spring dancing and alight with fresh life and beauty.
Here are some pictures that don’t do it justice:
This year for Inktober, I will be working on my artist biography in comic book form. Besides that I will be working on putting together my storyboarding portfolio and continuing my Clown President pages as well as developing my other story ideas.
What are you all doing for inktober?
This is a series for aspiring teachers (particularly those who wish to work at community colleges)
There are millions of resources out there for teachers for writing your resume or CV. The cover letter is just as important (if not more important) than your CV.
What’s the difference between a resume and a cover letter?
The CV/resume tells your potential employer that you are qualified for the position. Your cover letter is your elevator pitch that explains why you are the best person for the job. Your cover letter should be the lovechild of a narrative essay and the copy of an advertisement. A strategically told story with a call to action. In short, your resume shows what you are and your cover letter shows who you are and how you got there. So how do we make this happen?
Start simple, work smarter
When you are fresh out of grad school looking at different job openings, everything can start to feel overwhelming. Most job resources will tell you to write a new cover letter for each job posting. Going through the whole writing process for each and every job you apply for is wasted effort. I recommend creating generic templates for different categories of jobs, then tailoring them to specific job postings. But before we even begin drafting, we are going to:
- Categorize the types of jobs we are aiming for
- Research ! Research ! Research !
- Look at common descriptors that each category of job is searching for
- Make a list of those descriptors for each category
- Compare with our resume
Thinking through the eyes of a potential employer is a powerful tool we can use to get our first job. They are looking for specific things. For teachers, we are going to be highlighting our core teaching philosophy and praxis, our competence, and our humanity. We will tailor this to specific English programs, depending on what their mission is. For example, if I am applying for a summer job teaching vacation English to tourists, I’m not going to highlight my rigorous academic writing syllabus in my cover letter. This cover letter will not be appealing for a summer program for tourists that want to learn speaking and listening for traveling around the States.
Get to the point!
I mentioned that cover letters are like elevator pitches: they should be short enough to be understood within the time it takes to ride an elevator. So, unlike an essay that has an elaborate introduction, we will start with a short and to-the-point introduction:
- Greetings, explaining who or where you found the information to contact the hiring manager/committee
- Who you are, what you are applying for, and why you are the best person for the job
Here’s an example from one of my own cover letters:
Dear Hiring Committee,
I am applying for the part time Non Credit ESL instructor position at Community College. I graduated with my MS TESOL Master’s degree at Cal State Fullerton in 2016. I have been teaching noncredit ESL grammar classes at Community College as well as credit classes at Community College. I believe that I have the knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm necessary for this position.
Back it up!
Now that we have our main thesis, we will need to back it up in short paragraphs. Structure is paramount to a short, punchy paragraph. Here’s a refresher on paragraphs:
- Topic sentence that refers back to a specific quality you mentioned in the thesis.
- Specific evidence/examples supporting that quality
- Explanation as to how this has improved your skills as a teacher
- Transition into more specific evidence/examples
- More explanation
- Transition to next paragraph
If you are fresh out of grad school, you may not have teaching experience to fall back on. Tutoring also will help you get a teaching job. It shows that you are still working with students, and hopefully applying what you are learning in school to the real world. You will have to show what you learned in class, and how that will help you as a future teacher. Here’s another example showing the knowledge part of my thesis:
Besides the core classes of the MS TESOL program which include speaking/listening and reading/writing, I have taken two relevant elective pedagogy classes offered in my program: Pedagogical Grammar and Teaching Vocabulary in the ESL/EFL context. I received A’s in both of these classes and immediately started applying the knowledge gained in these classes to my own teaching and tutoring jobs. Celce-Murcia’s book on grammar will never leave my possession since it taught me how to teach articles and verb tenses. At my job as an ESL tutor at Coastline, students will wait for me with their most complicated grammar questions, and even the other tutors love to ask me to settle grammar disputes. The vocabulary class has also been an asset to my professional development. As an ESL tutor, I can quickly diagnose the root vocabulary issue that students may have. Moreover, I do a lecture on vocabulary word knowledge for my Freshman English class, as well, to help them become more aware of the intricacies of their own word knowledge.
Don’t forget your manners
At the end of your cover letter, you should be sure to thank the hiring manger/committee for their time, and ask them to contact you should they have any questions.
Thank you for taking the time to review my application. I look forward to going over my qualifications with you in person. If you have any questions regarding my application, please feel free to contact me via phone or email.
If you are an aspiring teacher, or looking for a job, and have questions you would like me to answer, please let me know.
I have always been a fan of dystopian novels and stories. I actually started with the Utopia by Thomas More in high school, which is an old classic that considered what a perfect society might be like. After that, I started devouring any kind of Utopia/Dystopia I could find: Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange, The Giver, the list goes on. The dystopian novel that has really haunted me, however, has been The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
I was 19 and overconfident in my knowledge of feminism. Despite this, I had only ever read the “classics” (focused on white male dystopias). This was assigned reading in my Women in American Society class(I dove into the deep end of critical theory and struggled greatly). Besides the other challenging, mind-blowing revelations in that class, this book focused on the fragility of women’s rights and how easily rights can be taken away. Reproductive rights, property rights, the right to not be sold as property in marriage, the right to participate in the same virtues and vices as men (jury duty, smoking and drinking in bars, running marathons, etc). Not only this, but also that many of these rights were only granted within living memory. I remember the novel mentioning women not being allowed to have credit cards without a male co-signer up until the 1970s. At first, I thought this was an alternative history timeline until I asked my mother about it and then proceeded to research it. This is the truly haunting part of the book, especially for those not the most well versed in recent history. I recommend this book for everyone, but especially young women, as often we can take for granted rights and liberties that were fought hard for.
Walking under ladders, crossing paths with a black cat, and the number 13. These are all things that are said to bring bad luck. Today is Friday the 13th! This is a day where many people, especially in the U.S., have anxiety about going about their daily routines. It is also a day to watch scary movies and get cheap tattoos. I have always been a contrarian, however. I have found that 13 has been my lucky number.
I often had the number 13 for my soccer jersey as a child, one of my favorite jobs was off of 13th street, and my boyfriend and I first moved in together in an apartment #13. A few years back when I was flying RyanAir, I looked for a seat on the 13th row and found that right after 12, they had 14! This is apparently very common as some buildings also skip the 13th floor and go directly to the 14th.
I found when I lived in Italy, 13 was lucky:
It seems that I am not alone in my love of the number 13. What is your lucky number?
I have mentored many people who are just about to graduate college or are lost about getting into the job market. Many people ask to pick my brain about what to do in an interview or have me look over their cover letters or resumes. Here’s another new blog series especially for aspiring teachers or teachers looking for new jobs.
Before you start searching:
If you are still in school:
- Start networking with your professors and volunteering to help with club duties/activities/research projects etc. Professors with clout will remember you if other companies ask about new graduates looking for work.
- Interning is good experience, but often does not lead to employment (in my experience). Don’t put all your eggs into this basket.
Create a Generic Resume: (This could be its own section, tbh)
- Resumes should be 1 page, easy to read, with your most relevant and recent experience at the top of the page. There are hundreds of ways to create resumes.
- CVs (or Curriculum Vitae) are your “life’s work.” A CV is allowed to be long. This might be helpful for those that may just be fresh out of school.
- Use action verbs to describe what you did in each job/experience/project and keep it short
- Use this to populate your LinkedIn Profile
- Have an online presence and make sure you look employable. Jump on Facebook or Linkedin or Instagram (especially if you are in the visual arts)
- Google search yourself. Employers can and will google search you so be ready and scrub your social media accounts so they are squeaky clean. Immediately untag or take down any pictures of you that make you look unreliable(a drunk/druggie/etc), mean(racist/sexist/etc), or lazy.
Finding a Job:
Use your “weak ties” or social network
- This is 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon for employment. If you are a hard worker, nice, and competent, someone will recommend you to their friend of a friend. Put out the word on facebook or whatever social media account you use.
- Start talking and mentioning your job search to everyone you know and ask them to tell you about any job they might come across. Many heads are better than one. Put your search out into your network and some job leads may come back to you.
Job search Engines
- Use generic job search engines: indeed.com, monster.com, craigslist.com
- Find job-specific search engines in your field. For example, if you want to work in higher education in the USA, the best job search engine is higheredjobs.com, but if you want to work in community colleges in California you would want the cccregistry.org. Same with the tech field I believe the site is dice.com for tech jobs.
- Usually there is a way to subscribe to job searches so they will send an email if anything comes up.
Googling Companies you want to work for
- Go to the company website you want to work for. Look for “Careers” or “Employment” or “Work for Us” something like that and try to find open positions. Apply for any open positions you like.
- Failing that, find the company directory, try to find the person who may be likely to hire you. Call or send them an email inquiring about employment or the application process and if there are any open positions available.
Hit the road!
- Start looking for “Hiring Now” signs in the windows of places. Keep an eye out, and hopefully you have a bunch of your friends looking out too.
- Large companies will usually hire you through websites, so even if you meet the hiring manager in person, they will send you to a computer.
- Smaller companies/business may have you submit an application in person, or have you email a resume.