How do I get professional teaching experience?

February 13, 2019

If your goal is to teach in a higher education environment, you need experience.

Without it, a teaching job may seem beyond your grasp. But it might be easier to obtain than you think. These six tips can help you get your foot in the door by giving you the valuable teaching experience you need.

1. Teach at work.

Teaching opportunities abound in the work place. Offer to train new employees or colleagues on a new initiative. Using your expertise, develop lunch-and-learn sessions to help coworkers meet their professional and personal goals. Your initiative will possibly attract the attention of supervisors and garner other opportunities to present.

2. Present at community organizations.

Local organizations can be an excellent source of teaching opportunities. Offer to speak on your area of expertise at Rotary or Lions clubs or similar organizations. Represent organizations at volunteer fairs or fundraising events.

3. Tutor at a local college.

Tutor a subject you excelled in. In addition to receiving hands-on teaching experience, you’ll be able to network and acquire credibility with faculty—a beneficial long-term plan.

4. Be a teaching assistant or substitute teacher.

A local college or your undergraduate alma mater may jump at the chance to have you as a guest speaker, assistant teacher, or group facilitator. Offer your expertise as a volunteer instructor while you gain recognition from other professionals in the field.

5. Look for nontraditional teaching roles.

Share your knowledge and expertise through community education. Whether you are an entrepreneur, master gardener, or a specialist in any field, develop a teaching course and offer it through your local community education department.

6. Present at local, state, or national conferences.

Demonstrate your expertise by presenting your subject matter to others at conferences in your field. Most professional organizations hold annual conferences and provide submission guidelines for proposals on their websites.

7. Develop online courses.

Try your hand at online course development by designing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for a well-known site like Coursera or edX. Udemy is another great option for designing online courses, especially if you’re more interested in serving professional adults. You can start small by volunteering to create webinars in your community or at work. Showcase your work to potential employers by posting your syllabi, teaching demonstrations, and other online course materials to LinkedIn or an online portfolio.

As you gain experience through these opportunities, you’ll build a valuable portfolio, not to mention confidence presenting to a group and leading discussions.

The Career Center’s mission is to empower students and alumni to proactively manage their careers and make meaningful, and effective, career decisions.

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