Before I introduce our Special Guest for this article, I'd like to share with you a really cool program for those in Uniform who might consider a career in education. The Troops-to-Teachers (TTT) program has a few goals and objectives:

Reflecting the focus of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, TTT's primary objective is to help recruit quality teachers for schools that serve low-income families throughout the U.S. TTT helps relieve the teacher shortages, especially in math, science, special education and other high-need subject areas, and assists military personnel in making a successful transition to second careers in teaching.

I'll share more on Troops-to-Teachers at a later date, but recently I spoke with someone who just became a Teacher — my Son! He didn't go through the TTT program on his way to the front of the classroom, but his story about how a career fair resulted in teaching success might be helpful for anyone reading this.

When not working out or trying out for Professional Soccer Teams, he's usually found working with kids. Whether coaching, working as a well-known character at a themed birthday party, or just sweating it out at the gym or on the pitch, I can count on Charles Pratt IV to set the bar high and strive to exceed expectations. But, I'm biased.

Yes, it's Father/Son Day on the GOING CIVILIAN Blog! He comes from a long line of Teachers who love working with young people. Maybe you do too! So, without any further ado, here's what my namesake would like all Military Veterans, Military Spouses, and Military Families to know about career fairs:

Charles "Chazz" Pratt III (CP3): Why did you attend the career fair?

Charles Pratt IV (CP4): I knew that in looking for a legitimate career, I couldn't just rely on online applications and hoping for someone to call me back. I wanted an opportunity to display in person all of my best qualities and show employers what I had to offer.

CP3: How did you hear about the career fair?

CP4: I was searching online for career fairs, and was fortunate to stumble upon the website for the fair I attended.

CP3: How many potential Employers were in attendance? Was this more or less than you anticipated?

CP4: Approximately 25. This was exactly what I anticipated, since the organizers of the event were kind enough to let everyone know exactly who would be at the event. It gave me the opportunity to research the organizations I was interested in and just how many resumes to bring!

CP3: Was this a career fair for a specific industry/profession or a wide variety of career choices available?

CP4: This fair was for the education industry, and inclusive of all professions within that. Teachers, specialists, aids, administrators, etc.

CP3: At the career fair, what did you observe that made you think some people might be missing out somehow?

CP4: The only thing I really noticed was how some of the candidates were dressed. It's no secret that in these settings you want to show that you take pride in yourself and are aware that potential employers are watching!

CP3: What did you do to stand out from the crowd? Did it work?

CP4: As this was my first career fair, I wasn't exactly sure what little things I could do to stand out (someone should write a blog about that!). Right away, I noticed that all of the other candidates wrote three things on their nametags: their name, endorsement (elementary, secondary, administrator, etc.), and any specialties (physical education, foreign language, etc.). I quickly added onto my nametag, and it worked fantastically. One principal stopped me in my tracks after reading my tag (I ultimately ended up making it to the second round of interviews for his school). Another representative read my tag and personally escorted me to the front of the line to speak with the district heads. I learned right away the importance of marketing yourself in every way, no matter how small.

CP3: How did you narrow down your choices for meeting prospective Employers? Did you visit all the booths or were you more selective?

CP4: Personally, I looked at districts that were within an hour radius of where I'd be living. Even then, I figured it wouldn't hurt to give my resumes out to even more employers, if I liked what they had to say or even just had a gut feeling about them.

CP3: If you could have done anything differently, what would that have been?

CP4: As it was my first fair, I wasn't exactly sure how to introduce myself effectively. I quickly found that there's no problem with introducing yourself and immediately letting the employer know your endorsements and specialties. With all the candidates around, you have to make the most of your face time with employers. As such, I would have introduced myself more effectively right from the start if I were to do it again.

CP3: Did you find success at the career fair? Explain.

CP4: Absolutely! I interviewed with several different districts during the fair, and was invited to do more interviews with just about all of them. I ended up getting hired by my first choice, and will be teaching this fall.

CP3: Do you recommend career fairs? Why?

CP4: Definitely. It's not just an opportunity, but several opportunities all at once! With so many organizations initiating the hiring process online, it can be stressful waiting for a response from them. In a career fair, you get to show yourself off in person, and if you notice something you can improve on, you have the opportunity to do so right away in your next interview. Also, career fairs can serve as something of a "jump" in the process for the employers. The districts used this particular fair as an opportunity to feel out who they might call for their upcoming openings. Here, they got a quick, in person glance of the candidates, saving them much more time and effort than if they were to solely rely on online applications without any face time (essentially meaning that just by showing up, you already have an advantage over those that choose to only rely on online applications. Remember, this fair had twenty-five employers!).

Well, let's chalk that up to another success story! If you or someone you know can benefit from this information, please share it!

And, one thing's for sure about Teachers: They do it with class!

I've run out of bad puns, so please feel to share your thoughts and comments on this topic. Thanks!