I want to be the superteacher.
January 21, 2009 8:08 PM   Subscribe

Bad Economy Filter: In college now, will graduate in 2012 and aim to teach art. The caveat is that it will have taken me 6 years to graduate my undergraduate program because of transferring schools and all the confusion that new majors comes along with. So, here's my question... how do I give myself a leg up? Perhaps superfluous details inside.

So, the program I'd really like to participate in post graduation will be teaching art in International schools abroad, namely Paris. They're tough jobs to get in the first place, but especially with the economy and the art education job market as they are, I'm afraid that my record will detract from my capacity to get the really cool jobs.

I transferred from an expensive and wrong-for-me school to a smaller state school in the south. My GPA was not good at my old school (2.3, ugh) but since transferring I have had all As and Bs and it is within my reach to continue my good grades for the duration of my schooling. Unfortunately most of the classes at my old school do not directly translate into the requirements of my new school. There's a slim chance I could get them to change their minds on a few of the classes, but for now it looks I will be in school for the next three years. I considered summer school but am unsure about whether or not I could handle such a consistently heavy courseload (that's 12 classes per calendar year) and I don't want my grades to fall.

So, after accepting that this is the most reasonable path to achieve my goal I realized I should do something productive with my summers. That leaves me 3 more summers during which time I'd like to gain some experience that will help me in my future job search.

So... what can I do? The angles which I feel I could focus on are:

1.I speak French well, though not quite fluently and I would like to live in France.
2.I have conducted/plan to conduct self-guided research on various artists including Salvador Dali and Matisse.
3.I am a practicing artist, specializing in photography, illustration, videography and beginning to tackle painting. I have had two shows.
4. I live in a metropolitan city but am flexible and capable of moving/studying abroad/etc.

So I ask you MeFi, what should I do to make my future boss say wow?
posted by big open mouth to Education (6 answers total)
Whatever you do, do it with an eye towards gaining experience, and doing something you enjoy. Money should not factor into it at all, as the amount of money you'll make in the summer is very little compared to what you might make later.

Once you're out of college, employers don't care about GPA. What they do care about is you being able to tell them, passionately, about experiences you've had, and what you've learned from them. I dropped the ball on this one a bit, graduating with a Computer Science degree, but little passion for it, and little experience in the field.

Go to France. They know enough English that you can find your way home if you get lost, and you definitely will learn more French and become more fluent by being immersed.

Continue practicing your art. Make something every day, even when you're not feeling inspired. All the same, if you do go abroad, make sure to get out. Fortunately, painting, photography and drawing can be done pretty much anywhere.
posted by explosion at 8:29 PM on January 21, 2009

I think you can easily live in France if you get some certificate, likely CELTA, for teaching English as a second language, which is incidentally exactly the sort of job that'll give you time for other artistic endeavors. Also, all the artsy kids moved to Berlin because Berlin is cheap, so check it out too. Btw, artistic normally means advertising these days, you needed accept that immediately, but don't forget it.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:20 PM on January 21, 2009

You don't just have summers: have you considered going on exchange to Paris during the year? You could try and get to know some of the people working at the international schools you are interested in while you are there. Or you could take up a french assistantship during your degree, teaching English in French schools - a Canadian girl I know did this while studying in France. The French department at your university should have more details on programs, scholarships and contacts they have to help you get to France while studying.
posted by jacalata at 10:48 PM on January 21, 2009

Don't worry at all about your GPA or how long it will have taken you to graduate. As others have suggested, spend as much time as you can in France (max out your college's semester or year abroad option).

But most important, start getting teaching experience right now. Start wherever you can, whether it's leading an elementary school field trip to a museum, or tagging along as a volunteer TA for a community college art instructor, or gaining teaching experience in other fields -- tutor fellow students in English or math during the school year, teach beginning French at a summer camp, work in an after-school program at the neighborhood recreation center.

If you're good, you'll have enthusiastic recommendations to go with a collection of teaching experience that will vault you over the four-year graduates with higher GPAs who spent their summers on the beach or working at The Gap.
posted by gum at 7:17 AM on January 22, 2009

I don't have any answers, but I just wanted to say that this is almost exactly my story, but I went south to north (back where I live.)

I will be watching this thread with interest, as I was getting depressed about it all last night.
posted by InsanePenguin at 8:17 AM on January 22, 2009

Thanks everybody for your answers, and InsanePenguin I feel your pain! MeFiMail me if you want to talk more about it.
posted by big open mouth at 1:52 PM on January 22, 2009

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