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Advice for a newbie: how do I find initial experience?


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After lurking on this forum for quite awhile, this is my first post! 


I am looking to apply to MAT programs for Fall 2016, and I would like to teach high school German. I'm interested in potentially returning to school after teaching for several years to study Higher Education Administration or Education Policy. I earned my Bachelor's in 2014 in German from a small liberal arts school in the Midwest. I first became interested in teaching about a year before I was to graduate. I took some education electives, but I was unable to find time to change my major before graduation, and the school was too expensive to stay for a fifth year.


I've learned a lot about the grad school application process from reading this forum, but I have a few questions left unanswered.


1. How do I find experience to beef up my application? It seems as if many people here have years of education experience. Since I have virtually none, I'm sure I would be a weak candidate. I live in a large metro area (Denver), so surely there are abundant opportunities, but I have struggled to find positions that I'm qualified for. What kinds of jobs can I find in education without having certification? I'm open to all possibilities.


2. Related to the first question: What is the proper way to contact a school or organization to inquire about job/internship opportunities? I know of others who have tried this and never received a response. Many school websites I've searched have little to no information about employment, and I would hate to miss an opportunity just because it wasn't clearly exposing itself to me.


Here's some background on me if it's relevant:

Undergrad GPA: 3.8

Major GPA: 3.95

GRE: 160 V, 167 Q, 5 AW


Thanks in advance for your responses!




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Are you looking only for teaching experience? I'm not sure if it's required to be successful in gaining admission into MAT programs. Your stats will put you above the medians for most MAT programs (maybe all). I would think that experience would only be required for higher education or education policy programs. Someone else may be able to confirm this, but I think your stats alone should get you into a MAT program.


The deadlines have passed for the summer experiences I know of (e.g. http://www.uncommonschools.org/careers/stf and http://www.breakthroughcollaborative.org/teach/apply ). Maybe you could get lucky through doing Google searches with combinations of summer teaching program. Another option could be to look into teaching fellowships. Boarding and private schools have these. Several things came up when I searched boarding school teaching fellowship (e.g. http://www.nobles.edu/about-nobles/teaching-fellowships.cfm You could try to find one of these, but I think the deadlines may have also passed.


I know that many districts have low requirements to become a sub, so that's something you could look into by contacting school districts rather than individual schools. Not sure if that would pay the bills though. Your test scores may be high enough to get you a job at a test prep center as a tutor, which may be as close as you can get to teaching experience given your qualifications. Some charter schools hire people without certification, but you'd likely have to enroll in an alternative certification program, which probably doesn't make sense if you're planning to get a MAT.


Best of luck!

Edited by mpb
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Thank you! It's good to hear that experience may not be necessary, but of course I'd still like to be working in education until I start grad school for many reasons. Right now I'm working a full-time minimum wage job to pay the rent, which I think will be pretty soul-crushing if I do it for too long! I'll definitely be checking out your suggestions for ed jobs.


I'm sure I'd have no problem getting into the most basic/average MAT programs, but what about the truly great ones? Do programs like Stanford's STEP, Vanderbilt, etc. tend to admit students with little to no experience? Since I'm planning on working towards a PhD in the future, I'd really like to attend a top school.

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I'm not really sure about top programs. Here are some stats about Harvard's master's programs: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/masters/life/who-studies


Looks like master's students have work experience, but that includes programs other than MAT and may not be education-specific experience. I'd say read the profiles of admitted students that are listed on websites like STEP, see if you can find admissions statistics, and look through the threads of the schools you're interested in and pm people who applied to your programs. My guess would be that you'd need enough experience to explain/justify your interest in a MAT program in a statement/interview but not much more than that.


Just another thought: if you ultimately want to study policy or do administration, you may be want to consider doing an alternative certification program like Teach For America, Match Corps, or something similar. Plenty of people from these programs move on to policy and administration. That way you would only pay tuition for one program, so it would also be much more affordable. Tuition at top MAT programs isn't cheap, and as I understand it, you likely won't get much of a scholarship. I think having tens of thousands of debt may cause you to hesitate to get another expensive degree (e.g. ed policy) for the career you really want. You wouldn't teach German, but unless German relates to your interest in policy or administration that probably won't harm your long term goals. I did TFA, and it's certainly an intense experience, but it was great for me. It definitely offered insights that would be very relevant to policy and perhaps higher ed if you teach in a high school--particularly if you are interested in issues of access to higher ed.


Perhaps apply to those types of programs in addition to MAT ones to give yourself more options? You know your goals best, but I just thought it is something to consider!

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  • 2 weeks later...

You might be able to gain experience by doing AmeriCorps. This wouldn't necessarily be experience teaching German but you could definitely find educational/tutoring opportunities through AmeriCorps. Another option would be CityYear but the deadlines may have passed.

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