The Vine: June 13, 2012
I have a question regarding how to handle a sticky situation regarding my résumé.
Upon graduating from Liberal Arts College with a BA in English and not a single clue as to how I planned to use it, I decided to enroll at State College to get certification as a high-school English teacher. Three semesters of educational-methods courses go by uneventfully, but student teaching went poorly for me and I was forced to take an "Incomplete" pending some major overhauls to my portfolio and repeating student teaching the following year. Needless to say, I took that as a clear sign that teaching high school was a poor fit for me and hightailed it out of there.
Six years later, I've found a niche that fits me well: a temporary position in an educational-services-related field where I get to work with student writing and am not in a classroom setting. My question, however, is this: as I apply for full-time employment in this new field, what is the best way to handle my failed attempt at teaching on my résumé? I know I need to include the semesters I spent at State College, especially because the teaching-methods classes I took do establish my credibility in the field, but at the same time I don't want to highlight my only academic failure, either.
I currently have State College listed under my educational credentials, with the explanation "completed three semesters of teacher licensure program, no degree achieved." Is there any need for me to go into greater detail unless pressed for an answer at an interview?
Perplexed English Major
I don't think so, no. And I don't think there's any reason you can't frame it as a positive if you are asked about it — you wanted to explore that aspect of the field, and you found out it wasn't for you, but you're glad you got the practical blah blah identified my weaknesses blah blah better fit in other areas blah blah blah fishcakes. I mean, what's the alternative — become a shitty teacher so your c.v. looks neater?
You did the right thing here, and what's more, people in the educational field will probably look at that line on your c.v. and spot exactly what happened, because it has no doubt happened many times before. Not everybody who, for instance, rocks at test-writing has any business in front of a roomful of fifth-graders — and vice versa. It's different skill sets, within the same sector, and whatever hiring manager or HR person you get in front of surely recognizes that that is…a thing.
It's accurate as is. Unless you plan to apply for teaching positions, which you don't, trust that anywhere you want to work will know what the reference means, and consider it value-neutral — or a positive, since now you're focusing on work you're cut out for.