Alternative Ed Careers

Posted by Paula Paine on February 8, 2011 in Alumni, education, "School of Education"

Recent college graduates are feeling the pain of the recession just like the rest of the population. They, too, are finding the need to be flexible, think outside the box and look for unexpected opportunities to secure their future. Ottawa University® education graduates are creatively coping with the challenges.

Luke Rinehart struggled to find a position after he earned his physical education degree in 2009. There was no teaching job waiting for him and he found himself discouraged, unemployed and still living with his parents seven months later. But finally, his networking paid off when a friend suggested he apply for a position at the company he worked for.

Rinehart was hired as a customer support specialist at Garmin and is pleased by his unexpected career path. It was a natural transition for him to apply his teacher training to adults rather than high school students. He works over the phone, listening and instructing as he walks clients through problem-solving procedures.

He doesn’t see his job as a detour, but rather as an unexpected gift. He is excited about his future at Garmin. “If I stayed in education, I would have to go to graduate school. Here, I can reach many of my goals with promotions that don’t require higher education,” he said.

Educators know that career advancement requires increasing levels of education. Lack of job opportunities is motivating many educators to go ahead and earn their master’s degree during this hopefully temporary window of opportunity. But for David Birch ’10, the challenge of employment was only one factor in his decision to enter the online master’s in education program at OU™. Immediately following his winter 2010 graduation, he started playing basketball with the Oregon Waves, a semi-pro basketball team.

Since he hopes to play with another team this winter, the online MA in Ed is a perfect fit for him. “It’s nice because I can do my schoolwork online, and I can do it wherever I end up,” said Birch. Graduate school was already in his future since his long term goals involve teaching at the college level or working as an instructional coach. Now he can study, work part time and still be flexible enough to join and travel with a team this winter.

Thinking outside the box can mean thinking outside the borders of the United States for many educators. Ashley Seimears ’09 chose to use her elementary education credentials in China. She refused to be frustrated even after applying for every desirable job in a three-state radius. “The job market is bad for teachers right now, so why not look around the world? I’m not limited to the United States. It’s a big world. I wanted a job, I wanted to be a teacher, I wanted my own students and my own classroom,” she said.

English teachers are in high demand in China. Seimears is finding that as an American and as a teacher, her skills are highly valued. Her new school is eager for her input as they set up a new primary English program. “I get to pick the curriculum, what color the walls are painted, where I want the computers, which room the library goes in, the listening center, the art center… and game room,” she said.

Seimears plans on enjoying a year in China. “I’m having a blast at doing what I love and I’m learning a lot as well,” she said. She then hopes to move either to Japan or Indonesia. Her long term goal is to earn a master’s in library science.

Kelly Faubion also chose to take the next step of her career outside the United States. She moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she is a behavior and educational consultant helping schools to serve students with autism.

She likes the travel her job requires and her new home. “The city is awesome! When the sun is shining, there couldn’t be a more perfect place.”

Faubion earned her teaching certificate from OU™ while studying for her master’s degree in special education from the University of Kansas. She spent the last four years working with children in classrooms, and though she loved it, wanted to gain experience teaching teachers before she goes on to earn a PhD.

Her long-term goal is to train teachers to support students with significant disabilities in inclusive settings, which is more common in Canada than in the States. She said, “When I found a job opportunity that would provide me with the chance to do consulting work with kids, workshops with teachers, some research with colleagues, and an adventure to a new place, it seemed like something that shouldn’t be passed up!”

Education graduates from Ottawa University are finding they are uniquely equipped to meet the diverse challenges of a changing work culture. They are creatively applying their expertise to other fields and their skills are being sharpened by further education. As they widen their job search to include a global economy, many are finding their credentials in high demand.