Early in the Program: Career Exploration and Professional Affiliations
The reason I am enrolled in the Educational Psychology program is because I love teaching and aspire to be more than an adjunct instructor. I also want to provide meaningful contributions to the field of higher education. I do not think I am capable of abandoning the calling to teach.
My intentions are focused and well-meaning. However, reality may not include a full-time teaching position. Therefore, exploring other career options is essential for a holistic understanding of my program. I have to allow for a back-up plan. The only way to do that is to utilize the numerous planning tools provided by Career Center at Capella.
Most of the institutions I have researched want at least five years of teaching experience and a doctoral degree. I have two years of experience. My duties as a doctoral Teaching Assistant will help, too.
By enrolling in the Ph.D. program here at Capella, I am working on closing the final gap. Because the university I work for only provides semester-long contracts, my future there is always uncertain. The situation creates stressful circumstances for me and my family. However, there is no reason to assume that I will not be brought back to teach more classes in August.
I began investigating professional associations early in this program. I had been a member of the American Psychological Association, but I let me membership lapse. When I discovered the divisions, I chose to become a member of Division 15 (Educational Psychology) and Division 2 (Teaching Psychology). The publications offered by the divisions feature current research in various fields of study. The membership provides networking opportunities as well as job boards where I can constantly search for work. I can also look at trends and changing dynamics in the workforce.
Mid-Way through the Program: Application Documents and Portfolio
In January 2020 I will be half-way through my program. If the university where I work renews my contract each Fall, I will have five years of teaching experience by that time. I also hope to continue as a Teaching Assistant. The aforementioned will allow me to provide comprehensive Curriculum Vitae (CV hereafter) to a potential employer.
I have already composed a CV. It is thin because I do not have the experiences, publications, and other necessary components that make me a marketable candidate. However, by 2020, that will not be the case. The mid-way point of the program will be an opportune time to send the CV through the critique process as I seek feedback from the Career Center and other professionals. Based on the suggestions of career counselors and colleagues, I will reconstruct the CV accordingly. Having a well-prepared CV will make me a viable contender for employment, raising the likelihood of either getting hired where I currently work or finding employment elsewhere.
The portfolio is fascinating. I was not aware of its importance until I reviewed this unit. I will be adding to it throughout the early part of the program, but the half-way mark provides the perfect time to sort through the documents and reflect on the materials. I will have many more examples of my work, updated reference letters and testimonials, writing samples, and copies of my evaluations. I will be a third-year member of the APA in 2020, so including that information in my portfolio will be very helpful, too. All of the aforementioned showcase my work and give credence to my professional objectives.
Late in the Program: Record Keeping and Networking
Accurate record keeping is a practice that is fundamental during any phase in life. Using proper record keeping during my program will allow for an organized list of positions and employers. By using Microsoft Excel, I will have a quick-reference of the applications I have completed, when I applied for work, and when I completed a follow-up phone call or email. It will also allow me to catalog individuals, such as human resources personnel, department chairs, colleagues, support staff, and many others.
Networking is an ongoing process. Conferences and colloquium provide chances for networking, creating a strong foundation for friendships and career contacts. Moreover, a strong network of individuals can open doors for collaborative research regarding current and future problems in education. Perhaps I will meet someone that would like to conduct research with me, adding to the list of publications for my CV. Publications not only allow me to contribute to the field, but will also help me attain a satisfying career in higher education.
I hope to attend APA conferences before I reach the middle and latter part of my program. Attending opens up more networking opportunities. Furthermore, I hope to present at conferences someday. I will not only have to have my Ph.D., but I will also have to provide useful, groundbreaking research to fulfill that aspiration. Still, goals are the building blocks of success, and speaking for the APA is a personal goal.
Each road that we travel has a destination. Sometimes we have a roadmap. At other times, we wander. However, through the years, I have realized that having the big picture in mind allows for proper preparation. Without it, I cannot determine where I have been, where I am, and where I am going.
Capella University provides numerous career support options. The Career Planning Checklist (Capella University, 2016) outlines everything that learners should consider during the life of their program. I am very grateful that career exploration and planning was the primary focus of this unit. One of my greatest concerns is that I will spend time and money moving toward a doctorate degree, but then be unsuccessful in finding work. This unit addressed those fears, and I feel a little more comfortable with the prospective outcome of my studies.
Capella University. (2016, March). Capella University. Retrieved from http://assets.capella.edu/campus/career-center/career-planning-checklist-general.pdf