Success Story | Alexandra Vujovich, English ILP
Name: Alexandra (Ali) Vujovich
Licensure program: English Education
Completed ILP: Spring 2012
Employer: Minneapolis Public Schools - Southwest High School
Position: Ninth Grade English teacher
1. How did you learn about your current position?
I did my student teaching in the Minneapolis district, which was great because that was the district I ultimately wanted to work in. My cooperating teacher and a few of my teachers and supervisors from the University were really great about helping me navigate the system and talk to the right people to line me up with this job.
2. Describe the application and interview process.
I won't lie; the application process was something I kept putting off. My cooperating teacher kept telling me to start the MPLS application but on top of student teaching four classes (2 preps) each day, I was exhausted. It was really something I had to make myself do. The interview process was an interesting one. I was labeled as an excessed teacher. So my interviews were called "matching" interviews to find the best spot for me in the district. I had half hour interviews lined up all day, but I only made it through two before Southwest offered me the job. Going into the interviews I was pretty terrified, but the questions are things that this program prepares you for really well. One HUGE piece of advice, don't let your first interview be with the school you want to work with. My first ever teaching interview was that morning and I was so nervous that I could barely think of reading strategies to provide. Let yourself practice a few first. I had a friend who went to the job fair and she was much more ready to interview than I was.
3. How did you make yourself stand out during the job search?
I really tried to put my all into student teaching because I was student teaching in the district I wanted to work in. My unit plan that I wrote for the program was 79 pages long (and everyone from my cohort makes fun of me, but it really was worth it)! For the first part of spring semester while we were still in classes I was going to my site three times a week (on top of taking twenty credits) and the requirement was to go once a week. I started teaching on my own fourth quarter, but third quarter I think was really what made it for me. I was always there collaborating with my cooperating teacher and asking to plan lessons and observing other teachers. I really wanted to be known in my building and I think all this work paid off. When it comes down to it, you can work and work and work, but a huge part of it is about the people you know. I put in all this work and my cooperating teacher saw just how serious I was about this. Developing a really deep, authentic, and lasting relationship with my cooperating teacher was probably the most important thing I did because then she really helped get me in the right places to meet the principal, vice principal, and people in the district and that was got me labeled as excessed and able to land this awesome job at Southwest!
4. Looking back, what did you find to be the most helpful during job search process? Quite honestly, I didn't fully invest in the job search process--not nearly as much as some of my fellow cohort members. I knew that I wanted to work in Minneapolis for the public schools and I was sort of resigned to long term sub for the year (I had something lined up in the school I was student teaching at) to get into the district and then next year I could apply and interview earlier. I won't say that my parents were too thrilled about that option, but I knew where I wanted to go and what I needed to do when I got there. I think the most helpful thing during my brief job search process was, again, my cooperating teacher. She was telling me what I should bring into the interview (things that would normally make up a portfolio), what I should make sure I clearly articulated, and things that I should ask after the interview was done. Clearly, I owe a HUGE thank you to her because not only did she help me prepare for the interview but she really helped line me up to interview in the first place.
6. What advice would you like to share with others?
Meet lots and lots of people. Work hard at what you do in the classroom so that when you meet these important people you have something to talk about. Talk to your principal at your site. Ask your cooperating teacher lots and lots of questions (even if you're not necessarily meshing with them). I don't think I'd be working as a first year teacher in Minneapolis if I didn't try to meet and talk to as many people in the district as I could have. Most importantly, have fun. I know finding a job is really terrifying, but if you genuinely love what you do when you're in the classroom, some principal or assistant principal or teacher who is interviewing you is going to see that in how you talk about your experiences and they're going to want to bring that spark into their school.