Why Student Leaders Should Consider Joining Teach for America After College
The skills required of successful teachers are also key skills of successful leaders.
Whether you dream of becoming a politician, principal or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, there’s no singular path to becoming a leader.
College gives you the chance to develop your leadership skills through running for student office or taking on a leadership position in a student organization. But when you graduate, how do you continue growing the leadership skills you acquired throughout school? Entry-level roles can be a great way to get your foot in the door, but they aren’t exactly known for nurturing leadership abilities.
Teach for America, a diverse network of leaders who seek to end educational inequity, gives college graduates the chance to continue developing their leadership skills while making a difference, starting with two years of teaching in a low-income community. The organization recruits outstanding and diverse leaders early on, preparing and developing them to become lifelong changemakers. If you’re interested in starting your leadership journey right after school instead of working in a typical entry-level role, here’s why you should consider applying for a position with Teach for America.
Hone your leadership skills while making an impact in the classroom.
“We believe that teaching is a profound act of leadership,” said Hannah Ney, Director of Recruitment at Teach for America. “The ability to lead a classroom of students to make extraordinary growth, personally and academically, is an incredible challenge that shapes and pushes our corps members.”
The skills required of successful teachers, Ney points out, are also key skills required of successful leaders. Management, vision and goal setting, developing relationships with different types of people, organization, public speaking and time management are all skills required by top leaders in every sector, and they’re skills that are developed in a classroom.
It’s true – a survey of more than 300,000 leaders ranked things like relationship-building, developing others, and problem-solving as top skills required for success in a leadership position. Those kinds of skills aren’t learned by sitting at a desk and doing the same thing every day. Those skills are learned by working in a dynamic environment, and during their two years in the classroom, TFA corps members have access to extensive resources and support networks that help them grow as leaders and go beyond traditional expectations to accelerate the academic and personal growth of their students.
Enact Systemic Change Early in Your Career
From policy decisions to a company’s direction, leaders are tasked with driving monumental change. At Teach for America, every member is working to change entire systems in an effort to end educational inequity. The current public education system isn’t designed to give all students equal opportunities – only 9% of kids growing up in low-income communities will graduate from college by the time they’re 25. TFA members understand that there’s no single solution to ending education inequity, and changing entire systems in the long-term will require working inside and outside of education. Becoming a TFA corps member and working inside the classroom gives you the chance to start driving monumental change now, steering the direction of public education and making a difference with one student at a time.
Join an ever-expanding, diverse network of leaders
Not every TFA corps member majored in education in college. In fact, the organization recruits people from all backgrounds, majors and experiences – different people brought together by a deep belief in the potential of children. Diverse backgrounds lead to a diverse alumni network, which currently holds over 53,000 leaders nationwide. With TFA alumni working across sectors including education, policy, law, nonprofits, business, and medicine, joining this organization gives you the chance to develop transferable leadership skills to work in any field.
“Classroom leadership is foundational for long term leadership,” said Ney. “Teaching will accelerate your leadership trajectory and help you achieve systems-level change throughout your career.”
Being the president of student government or philanthropy chair of your Greek organization are great ways to start your leadership journey in college. But if those activities meant much more to you than just a line on a resume, consider continuing on as a leader beyond graduation. Make a difference and develop your skills immediately out of school, instead of going the traditional route of an entry-level desk job. TFA will push you to grow into a better leader while giving you the opportunity to move the needle on educational inequity and enact change every day.