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Life as a Corps Member

5 Things Young Professionals Should Know About Joining Teach For America

Taking the leap into a new career can be overwhelming—here’s what you should know about making your switch to TFA.

By Theresa Mooney

November 27, 2018

If you’re just getting your feet wet in the working world, it can be daunting to think about all of the steps you might need to take to get to your dream job. You may not know the right career moves to make, or you may not even know just what your dream job is yet.

Even if you’re someone who has your career goals mapped out on a chart, deciding when to take on new challenges and pursue different job opportunities can be intimidating.

Grounding your decision-making in passion and purpose, however, is critical. Pursuing a fulfilling and life-changing career that benefits communities and kids could be exactly the right opportunity for you.

Serving as a Teach For America corps member will allow you to do just this. You’ll teach for at least the next two years in a school that needs your leadership and the experience you bring from the professional world. You’ll work as a full-time employee of your school district or charter school, with the same salary and benefits as other beginning teachers. And at the same time, you will greatly enhance your trajectory.

With close to 60,000 people in our network, corps members have entered the classroom from nearly every background and career sector you could imagine. You won’t be the first person from your professional field who’s entered the corps. Learn five more things to consider in making the career change to TFA.

 

1. YOU’LL FIND A RENEWED SENSE OF PURPOSE

Even if you’re fulfilled in your current day-to-day work, finding purpose in your career can be a continuous challenge for young professionals. At TFA, corps members are lucky to have purpose stare them in the face every morning: their classroom of students. Kids are remarkable at renewing your energy and reminding you what really matters in life.

Being a classroom leader also comes with tremendous responsibility and obligation. Your daily work can have a direct impact on the lives of the students who enter your classroom—by teaching them material in new and relevant ways, pushing them to achieve high academic goals, and giving them the love and attention they deserve. And your impact could be seen for generations to come, whether you choose to stay in the classroom after your two-year commitment or move on to another field that affects children.

2. LEADERSHIP IN THE CLASSROOM WILL CREATE EVEN MORE LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Your experience in the classroom will give you the background and credibility unmatched by other careers. It can lead you in any direction you choose afterward, from school leadership to community organizing to social entrepreneurship, and so much more.

In fact, of the most prominent entrepreneurial education organizations in our country, more founders and top leaders started their careers with TFA than anywhere else. Thousands of other alumni work in policy and advocacy, including more than 170 serving in elected office. At the 2018 midterm elections, around 250 alumni ran for elected office. More than 3,500 alumni are also currently leading schools as principals, assistant principals, directors, and deans. (Read more about the alumni network.)    

Serving as a teacher will open up new opportunities you might not have ever expected, and you’ll be supported in your career pathway—no matter what route you take—by a supportive alumni community.

3. THE WORK WILL BE CHALLENGING

You may hear that TFA is intense. It’s true. From the workload to the responsibilities placed on you to the impact that you’ll have, being a corps member is challenging and transformational.

Depending on where you are in your current career, the corps experience could be just as demanding as your current position, or it could be the new, exciting challenge that you’re looking for. Either way, you will find it to be among the most rewarding and life-changing experiences you’ve ever encountered.

On a practical level, TFA will help you become a strong classroom and community leader through rigorous summer training, extensive coaching, professional development, and other resources, like graduate school opportunities, throughout your two years. (Learn more about corps member training.)

4. YOU WON’T BE ALONE

Among the biggest benefits of joining TFA is that you will begin your experience alongside dozens—in some regions, hundreds—of other first-time corps members. All corps members start their summer training experience on equal footing, with feelings of excitement and nervousness. And as a corps, everyone will learn new skills and strategies, work through classroom challenges, and confront regional issues alongside one another.

You may work in the same school, choose to live with, and/or attend certification courses with other TFA members. Or, you may simply be comforted by having fellow corps members there when your work gets hard. No matter what, the community of support in the TFA corps is unrivaled and enduring.

5. YOU’LL FORM A CONNECTION TO A COMMUNITY—NEW OR FAMILIAR TO YOU

Where exactly you’ll work is probably one of the biggest questions you have in thinking about joining the corps. You may want to move to a new city or you may want to stay put for logistical or family reasons. Either way, location should not be a barrier to you applying to the corps.

We know that landing in a region that matches your priorities is incredibly important, so our placement process is designed to assign you to the regions you’re most interested in to the greatest extent possible. Ultimately, the likelihood of getting one of your most preferred regions depends on several factors, such as the eligibility requirements in the region, your availability for summer training, and the number of placements available. Yet the admissions team does its best to work with your preferences and constraints.

Whether you’re drawn to the city where you grew up or the one where you attended college or one entirely new to you, you’ll find opportunities for community involvement and local engagement in whichever of our 51 regions you call home.

Learn more about being a career changer at TFA, and see the profiles of young professionals who joined TFA.