Name: Brian Cook
Field of Study: Art Education, with Illustration focus
Year of Graduation: 2007
Current Position: Art Teacher, Portland, Ore.
What was the most important thing you learned about your field while at Kendall?
I learned a lot of extremely valuable teaching techniques and theories at Kendall, but I would have to say the most important part of being at Kendall was the intense focus on actual studio classes in addition to teaching classes. I feel like you can't really teach artistic skills until you have a very comprehensive understanding of them yourself, and Kendall definitely provided me with that.
What was your most shocking realization about your field after graduation?
It is extremely competitive. When I was applying to teaching positions and going to job fairs there would be some 200+ teachers submitting resumes for the same position. It is a very cutthroat field, and those who are hiring have the luxury of being very selective.
Give us your best interview tip.
Make sure you have a question to ask at the end of the interview. Do your research ahead of time. Ask about the program, the demographics, school structure, etc. One of my favorites to ask was if I could see the art facilities. That way I got to chat with someone casually as they were showing me around.
List three ways you network in your field.
- I'm a member of the National Art Education Association and attend conferences with other art teachers around the country.
- I'm a board member of the Oregon Art Education Association. (They were the first people I called when I moved out to Oregon. I got involved and started to network because I had left all the contacts I made in college.)
- Keeping up a school website. Art teachers or illustrators contact me all the time because they have seen stuff I have put up on the Web. It's pretty interesting who happens to stumble upon these things sometimes.
What was the worst interview moment you've experienced?
I have been pretty fortunate in this regard. I haven't had any huge blunders – probably the toughest interview moment was when a principal called me and told me that I was one of their top two choices, but that they had chosen the other. She was very nice to call and said she wanted to let me know how far I had gotten (feedback you often don't get). It was encouraging, but also stung a little, knowing I was so close.
List three résumé "don'ts."
- Don't list every job you've ever had. Keep it related to your field. Being a Taco Bell manager at 15 isn't a bad thing, but it makes it seem like you are stretching for things to add. Keep it relevant.
- Use a professional email address. Set up a new one if you have to. "P4rtyG1rl@yahoo.com" isn't going to cut it.
- Don't go over two pages (teaching resumes can be a little longer because they have specifics, but two pages of information should suffice).
List three résumé "do's."
- Try to design your own resume – make it look different. There are gazillions of templates out there that every business school graduate is going to use. You have an artistic background – USE IT!
- Keep it very organized. Put lots of information in there, but make it clear enough so someone can skip around, or skim and pick up what they need to. Indent, bold, paragraph – they are all your friends.
- Keep it short, but list a place where they can see more (examples of art too!).
Name the most essential skill, tool or software program relative to your field.
Hands down, the most essential program in terms of producing artwork would be Photoshop. I can't count how many times it has come in handy that I know my way around that program. Buy it while you can get the education discount; it is well worth it. A skill in terms of teaching? Practice, practice, practice. There's no way around that one.
How did you make the first connection that led to a job in your field?
In Oregon there is a resume and job application database that they use called EdZapp. It was the bane of my existence when I was applying there, because although my credentials were great, it uniforms everyone's resume, making it much harder to stand out. A few times I applied to jobs on EdZapp only to get error messages after filling out all the paperwork. So, after applying to nearly 20 jobs and only getting two interviews, I decided to send my resume directly to the principal of the school who was looking for a teacher. I told a little white lie about how I had tried to apply using EdZapp but received error messages and I wanted to make sure I got him my resume. That way I could send a much prettier PDF, mention my website, and make sure I mentioned the school so he could tell it wasn't a form letter. I got an email back from him the next day that said he'd love to meet about the job. We set up an interview the next week and I was hired the day after. The last thing you want is to be annoying, but you HAVE to find a way to stand out from the crowd.