Kent State Career Services hosted its annual Education Employment Day at the Student Center Ballroom on Thursday. School districts from across the nation hosted interviews and extended job offers during the fair.
According to Career Services, 213 people including undergraduate students, graduate students and alumni came to the fair.
The event started with a meet-and-greet at 8:30 a.m. followed by a time for students to walk through the aisles of tables to informally introduce themselves and leave a copy of his/her resume.
School districts spanned from surrounding Ohio areas to North Carolina and Las Vegas.
Kent State graduate student Amanda Harmon studies school psychology and was in attendance at the Education Employment Day in hopes to land a school psychologist position.
“We have to stay in Ohio …” Harmon said. “With my program, you have to commit to one year of serving Ohio because … our internship is funded by a grant, so that’s one of the rules you have to do.”
One distant school district in attendance was the Kent, Washington school district. Jennifer Irwin, a human resources specialist in employment services, was present.
“I work at our district office, so I do all of the recruitment … until someone is hired,” Irwin said. “Our school is a very diverse district, so we are looking for all sorts of teachers that meet the needs or demographics of our students.”
Director of Special Education Deborah Yorko was also present, representing Highland Local Schools in Medina County, Ohio.
Yorko has attended other college career fairs and was impressed by Kent State’s. She said job fairs give employers exposure to students with degrees in areas that they are searching to hire.
“Sometimes the interview process is very laborious. We bring people in and within two minutes you know, for whatever reason, they’re not a good fit,” Yorker said. “This kind of lets you filter through a lot. We had more than fifty people come up to the table and then we’re able to set interviews from that group … For us, it’s a huge time saver.”
Alumni Taylor Thomas graduated in the spring of 2015. She currently works within the Columbus City School District as a high school integrated math teacher. Thomas said she heard about the Education Employment Day through an email sent by Career Services.
“Career Services always send out their email blasts, so as long as you are a current Kent State student who is graduating this semester or if you are an alumni of the teaching program here at Kent, then you are allowed to attend the job fair,” Thomas said.
The State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) is in the midst of changing its retirement plan for teachers in Ohio, which is resulting with many teachers retiring within the next year. This means a great year for students graduating with degrees in education and an increase in job openings in schools.
“The change is that in order to retire, you have to work more years,” Thomas said. “So, like, a teacher who maybe taught for 25 years would have to stay possibly another 10 years as opposed to retiring after 30 years of experience. They might have to stay until 35 now just to be able to get the amount of money that they were expecting to get for their retirement package.”
Even for non-Ohio school districts who are not experiencing a change in retirement plans for teachers, the job market is still a good one for graduating education students.
“Speaking from (a) Washington state standpoint, it is a very good field to be in for graduates. (Teachers) are in high demand,” Irwin said.
Yorko also said education is a good field to get into, although you have to pick and choose what’s going to be needed now and in the future.
“Math and science are pretty high in demand and the other subjects, it just depends,” Thomas said. “But right now it’s kind of a good year for hirings, so everybody’s got a good shot at getting a job.”
The education field is experiencing a high demand, not only for teachers, but other positions within school districts, such as the school psychologist position sought by Harmon.
“As far as school psychology, school psychologists are being sought out actively,” Harmon said. “There is supposed to be a shortage of them and not enough of us to fill the jobs that are supposed to be coming within the upcoming year.”
Alexandria Kobryn is a jobs reporter for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected]