Plan: first get teaching experience, then learn to be a better educator
January 17, 2012 2:10 PM   Subscribe

career filter:I am thinking of switching biotech research job to a teaching job and would really appreciate any advice and input to my situation.

I have phD in biochemistry and many years of academic research experience afterwards. In recent years, I start to feel more and more that keep doing research in my field is not something I am excited about any more. I want to work with people, teaching, mentoring and counseling. Now I need to figure out how to do this transition.
My plan is to first find a part-time teaching job. I will apply community college, state university and online university like university of Phenix. So that I can have one foot on the door, gain teaching experience and see if I really like it. I will be able to build a network of people who works in education. I hope to focus on improving my teaching skills including how to organize material, how to interact with students, how to manage time and classroom, how to grade and evaluate effectiveness of teaching. On top of actually teaching biotechnology related classes, I want to sit in classes that are offered for free for instructors of the same institution to become better teachers (classes such as education class and psychology class). Then after a few semesters/years, maybe I will get a full time teaching/research position somewhere. During my work in teaching, I will also pay attention to any opportunities to 1. learn how to help students by doing counseling, career advice work; 2. advanced technologies in education and any research projects done by educators to help people learn better. In summary, in 5 yrs, I want to see myself having a stable teaching position. Then in 10 yrs, I want to be doing more research in education area, maybe working in China and Japan to help people their adopt some new education methods, build better school, promote community and cross-culture communication.
You see that my long term goal is not in teaching biotechnology, but because my background and the fact that I need a job to pay bills using my current skills (in stead of me not working, being a full time student again learning education or psychology), I plan to find a job teaching biotechnology. By the way, I am excited about programs like Princeton's molecular biology outreach program, the http://www.hhmi.princeton.edu/ and city college of san francisco's bridge to biotech program. I hope my teaching will make a difference in the student's lives.

My questions for the educators in the metfilter community are: 1. any comment or suggestions on my plan. So far, I only have the above plan, please help me get a reality check of what's missing in my plan. 2. For job hunt, just send out resumes to every college that offers classes I can teach? any tips on job application?
2. what if I can't find any job in college level right now? I suppose I can be a private tutor working for Kumon or college prep kind of teaching, will this kind of teaching experience help my resume? What other teaching opportunities for people like me? I am wondering if there are biotech companies that can hire me to train customer or teach something on a part-time job basis.

I live in the bay area. Thanks in advance for any suggestions and feedback!!
posted by akomom to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
First, you should know that any kind of college-level teaching jobs are extremely competitive right now, including adjunct positions at community colleges and public universities. Things are especially bad in the bay area and there are dozens to hundreds of people with lots of teaching experience lining up for every crappy position that comes open. I have a friend with several years experience who was teaching community college classes in Santa Rosa and Pleasant Hill on the SAME DAY to make ends meet. Oh, and thanks to budget cuts, she no longer has either of those jobs.

I'm not saying you shouldn't try to transition to a career in teaching, but you're going to need to be realistic about how very very hard it is to find a job teaching at a college level. These are not jobs that are just handed out to people who don't feel like doing research anymore.
posted by juliapangolin at 2:48 PM on January 17, 2012


It is not clear from your post if you plan on keeping your full-time research position while you attempt to transition into teaching. But just to be clear, I think you should keep that full-time research position. Most universities send out advertisements for adjunct teaching positions on a regular basis. I think all you can do is apply for any relevant positions as they become available in your geographic area. Some of these adjunct positions are for evening courses (teaching Intro Biology for example) so that could work while you maintain your day job.

I don't think tutoring will help you decide if being a full-time teacher at the college-level is the right move for you. Success in this area depends not only on competence. You've got to have the right personality for it as well. And that is a hard thing to assess in others and yourself. You can't be certain until you have the opportunity to actually do it. But tutoring would show that you have a sincere desire to move into education, so that couldn't hurt on your resume.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 3:05 PM on January 17, 2012


thanks for the feedback. it's discouraging to know from juliapangolin that in bay area, it's going to be hard to land on a teaching job at college level and that budgets are tight. I can only just keep applying and networking and hope for good luck. Seymour's suggestion for me to keep my full time position while try to land a job teaching is not going to work for my family situation, because that's too demanding of my time and energy. I have three young kids, so part time teaching job is what I look for. sometimes I even think that I should just open a afterschool program at home to teach elementary school kids including my own. That actually makes enough money. I am also thinking about volunteer teaching for seniors or immigrants. Well, it's time for me to step out of academic environment and swim in the real world to try to sell myself in a way that fits my goal.
posted by akomom at 7:55 PM on January 17, 2012


Have you thought about teaching at the high school level? Private schools often will take a PhD and real-life experience over state teaching credentials, and its much more stable and obtainable than collegiate teaching.
posted by fermezporte at 7:16 AM on January 18, 2012


« Older Quality essays or investigative pieces about...   |   How to move out of parents house? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.