Education Career Fair yields connections and opportunities
A job offer before graduation? It can happen at the annual Education Career Fair!
A high school band director helped orchestrate Jacob Thomas’ career interests and pursuits.
“The director was fantastic and really impacted my life,” Thomas said. “I wanted to follow in those footsteps.”
As a high school junior, Thomas began assisting the director in the classroom, running sectionals and tutoring other students in ideas of music theory.
“I found out that I really liked teaching, and then I came to Radford University to get a music education degree,” he said, looking around the large room filled with scores of recruiters mingling with other job-seekers like himself.
Thomas, a senior from Mechanicsville, Virginia, was one of many students who visited the Spring 2020 Education Career Fair looking to talk – and possibly interview – with school recruiters and land a teaching position.
Sponsored by Radford University’s Center for Career and Talent Development in collaboration with the College of Education and Human Development, the annual career fair brings representatives to campus to meet and network with Radford students, alumni and other professionals interested in working in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educational settings.
More than 145 teaching candidates attended the event. Representatives from 88 school districts came from all over Virginia. Three school districts from North Carolina and three from Washington, D.C. also sent representatives to the career fair. Many of the recruiters – 29 of whom were Radford University alumni – were looking for special education, mathematics, English, Spanish and elementary school teachers, they said.
Students spent the morning making rounds, handing out resumes and meeting recruiters, who were set up in booths in the main court inside the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Many of the students scheduled job interviews for the morning and afternoon. Some were offered positions on the spot. Emma Sarbin was one of those.
“I just received a job offer,” she said, still surprised by what had just taken place. “I was told that could happen, but I did not think that was actually going to happen today. But, I’m pretty excited.”
Sarbin, of West Lake, Virginia, will graduate in May with a master’s degree in special education. She said it was “incredible” that the University brings so many recruiters to campus each year for the career fair.
Emily Skeens agreed. The second-year graduate student from Grundy, Virginia, said the opportunity to meet recruiters on campus was “very helpful.”
“The idea of looking for a job is overwhelming enough. Sending out resumes and not hearing back from anyone can be really scary for a lot of people,” said Skeens, who will earn a master’s degree in English in May. “It’s great that Radford has programs like this where students can talk to people wanting to hire them.”
Hiring teachers to “better educate our students” is the reason Susan Carico and Kristen Quesenberry M.S. ‘14 of Carroll County Public Schools attended the career fair.
We are always looking for qualified teachers who can help our students become good, productive citizens,” Carico said.
Did they find what they were looking for?
“Yes, we have been very impressed,” Carico said. “We have met an abundance of good candidates.”
Many of those candidates hailed from Carroll County and wanted to go back there to teach. That is advantageous for everyone involved, Quesenberry explained.
“This is an opportune time for us to meet possible candidates who love their community and want to stay local,” she said. “We find that many students go to Radford University for its education program, and if we can capture the talent back and have those candidates who are already familiar with the community, it helps them to be more successful when they enter the school system professionally.”
Radford University’s College of Education and Human Development and its School of Teacher Education and Leadership have a well-established reputation for preparing students to become responsive and engaged leaders in the classroom. Brad Haga M.S. ’08 witnessed that firsthand when he served on a professional development workshop panel discussion in December for students who were projected to complete student teaching and graduate during the 2019-2020 academic year.
“I was very impressed with the way students participated in that question-and-answer session,” said Haga, a former teacher and principal, who now serves as director of personnel and human resources for Wythe County Public Schools.
That experience prompted Haga’s return to campus for the education career fair. There, he met many students interested in teaching in Wythe County.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to meet new teachers,” he said. “They’re all very personable, and they have great leadership skills. As an educator, that is promising and exciting.”
The Center for Career and Talent Development is continuing its commitment to connect students with careers through online resources. Workshops, employer webinars and career resources are accessible through the Center’s website where a team of experienced career counselors are available for students virtually. Connect with them at https://www.radford.edu/content/career-services/home.html.