March 12, UW Tacoma’s School of Education will host their 16th annual career fair in William Philip Hall from 10 a.m. to noon. As of March 2, there are 42 school districts signed up to attend.
In past years, the fair was held for graduate students from the School of Education program to interact with school districts. Last year, the fair was expanded to include undergraduates as well. Both undergraduates and graduates are being invited back this year.
Megan Bentley-Moon is an advisor and certification specialist in the School of Education for graduate students. The growth of the UWT education minor and her prior work with undergraduates is what made her to think to invite undergraduates to participate in the fair.
“I used to work in the Office of Undergraduate Education in my previous role on campus so I know that most of our students on campus work at least part time if not full time to afford their education here,” Bentley- Moon said. “So I thought, why not look for a job in education where you are not only helping to pay for your college tuition while you are completing your undergrad, but you are also building the skills that you’ll need and [gaining] experience and advancing your career path to becoming a teacher at the same time.”
Students who are not pursuing education careers are still invited to join the career fair, as it provides students with a chance to ask questions and get advice about potential opportunities.
“I think [students] will find that they have a captive audience that is ready and willing to engage with them,” Bentley-Moon said. “Even if it is a district that you wouldn’t necessarily think of yourself teaching in doesn’t mean that they don’t have a lot of information to share and wouldn’t be a great resource.”
There is also a chance for students to network during the fair and get to know each unique school district.
“There are lots of potential roles and jobs for undergrads to fill that could be beneficial to them in terms of being able to help them pay for their tuition and also gaining experience and making connections with districts,” Bentley-Moon said. “Different districts can have really different work cultures, and the buildings within those districts can be very different as well, so the more experience you have working in different buildings or different circumstances, the more prepared you’ll be when you hit the job market as a teacher.”
According to Bentley-Moon, school districts and teaching programs are working together not only to recruit more teachers, but also to increase diversity amongst teacher candidates.
“The teacher population doesn’t reflect the student population. When you are a student of color and/or male, there is a lack of empowerment there. It can be life changing to see themselves reflected in their teachers. It is definitely something that is missing for tons of kids right now and that is problematic,” Bentley-Moon said.
Bentley-Moon said that despite current efforts, more needs to be done to recruit and retain minoritized teacher. The goal of the School of Education program is to “make sure that all candidates are prepared to teach all kids. There is a huge unfilled need right now.”
The School of Education hopes there will be a larger turn out of undergraduates at this year’s career fair.
“Recruiting undergraduates is a new focus for districts and my hope is that the resulting conversations will lead both to immediate job opportunities and more career options as classroom teachers,” Bentley-Moon said.