5 Myths That Prevent Teachers From Pursuing Careers in EdTech
MYTH #1: I'M NOT TECH SAVVY SO I WOULDN’T BE A GOOD FIT.
FALSE! I've worked in education and EdTech for over 18 years and I can count on one hand the people I would consider "tech geniuses". To take it a step further, many of the most successful, talented and impactful colleagues I’ve ever worked wouldn’t even consider themselves ‘tech savvy’. The people that have the most success in the EdTech industry (and in corporate America in general) possess the same common characteristics (and I’ll give you a hint, being tech savvy isn’t one!). They are all hard working, great communicators, effective collaborators and creative problem solvers. Any technology skills you have beyond the basics like using Microsoft Word, using an email system, google docs, etc. are an added bonus. I encourage you to stop putting so much pressure on yourself to know every tip, trick & app out there today and instead start focusing on the incredible foundation of skills you have already gained from your time in the classroom. There is always time to improve your ‘tech savvy’ skills so start making a list of the areas you want to grow (maybe it’s becoming more proficient at Excel, or becoming a rock star at Powerpoint) and set small goals to accomplish.
MYTH #2: I NEED A BUSINESS DEGREE TO GET AN INTERVIEW.
FALSE! Can a business degree be helpful for some EdTech jobs? Sure. Is a business degrees essential for most EdTech jobs? Absolutely not!! To help prove this point, I encourage you to do a little informal research project on your own (that will take you 5 minutes or less to complete!). Ask 5 people that work in EdTech (or corporate America) what their degree was in. I bet you will be surprised at what you hear. In preparing for this blog post I did the same thing and here is what I found. Two people had communication degrees, one person had a political science degree, one person had an education degree and one person had a business degree. Instead of focusing on what your degree is in before you decide to apply for a job, focus on the qualifications you have as a teacher. You are the CEO of your classroom. You make hundreds of important decisions each day. You are responsible for the success of hundreds of students every year. You are tasked with planning, collaborating and presenting on a daily basis. These are incredibly valuable qualifications for roles in EdTech. Don't count your experiences and qualifications short. Don't believe me? Read 5 Reasons Teachers are the Perfect Fit for Corporate Jobs in EdTech.
MYTH #3: A COMPANY WON'T HIRE ME IF I DON'T USE THEIR PRODUCT IN MY CLASSROOM.
FALSE! I want to share something with you that my mentor told me years ago. This small story changed the course of my professional life. I told my mentor (an executive in corporate America) that I was thinking about leaving the classroom and applying for a job in an EdTech company within their Customer Success team (a.k.a the department that delivers the products/services that the sales team sells) but I told him that I didn’t think I would get an interview because I had never used their products. He laughed and asked me if I thought the CEO of most education companies were former teachers who used the products they sell? He asked me if I thought the salespeople working for Nike were all former athletes who wore the products they sell. He asked me if the product designers for Luis Vuitton all owned a luxury bag of their own. He threw out about 10 examples just like this. His point was this…. You don’t have to use the products to be incredibly successful in any industry. You simply have to bring a skill set to the table that can help the organization grow. After having this conversation, my perspective shifted and I immediately applied for (and got) my first job in EdTech. Now, nearly a decade later as a hiring manager myself, I am here to tell you that I would hire a candidate with a positive attitude and strong work ethic any day of the week over a teacher who had used our products in the classroom without other strong intangible skills. It’s always important to do your homework before interviews to be as knowledgeable as possible on the products/services but never let your lack of familiarity or personal experience with a product dissuade you from applying for jobs at an EdTech company.
MYTH #4: MY PERSONAL LIFE WILL TAKE A BACK-BURNER IF I GET A JOB IN EDTECH.
FALSE! I am proud to tell you that I have been a successful executive at a few major EdTech companies and have never had to completely put personal life on the back-burner. Have I had to adjust my thinking around my work and vacation schedule? Definitely. And while that took some getting used to, I love the flexibility and freedom it has provided my family and I! It's true that leaving the classroom means you will have to give up your summer vacation. But guess what that also means? You can now go on vacation when you want, instead of a school calendar dictating your schedule. I'll never forget taking my kids to Disney World during my first year in the corporate world. It was the first week of February and we were able to be first in line on every ride because we weren't on vacation with the rest of the world. It also means that you have far more flexibility with scheduling doctors appointments, attending out of town weddings/reunions/events and even doing family planning (I’ve had many of my teacher friends tell me they’ve tried to plan to start a family around their summer vacations!). Working in corporate America and in EdTech companies gives you the freedom to determine your own work/life balance. There are SO many different types of jobs out there that you can decide what works best for you and your particular lifestyle. If you don’t want to travel, find a job that doesn’t require it. If you want to work from home, find a job that recommends it. I encourage you to sit down with a pen and paper (and a warm coffee) and write down the type of lifestyle you want and the non-negotiables you refuse to compromise on! Once you have that list, it’s time to start finding your dream job! The link below will take you to an incredibly beneficial resource that will help you successfully prepare for AND land your first job in EdTech.
MYTH #5: I'M JUST A CLASSROOM TEACHER.
FALSE! There is no such thing as ‘just’ a classroom teacher and every person whose life has been positively impacted by a great teacher would agree! Classroom teachers are the heartbeat of every strong EdTech company. Classroom teachers are the voice for the customer. Classroom teachers are the sounding board for product development ideas. Classroom teachers are the trusted advisors when big decisions are being made. Classroom teachers are the cornerstone of education and without education…. There would be no ‘Ed’Tech. The greatest disservice you can do to yourself is to undervalue the incredible gifts and the skills you’ve gained from being a teacher. The EdTech industry needs your experiences.