Resumes: What I Meant to Do On My Summer Vacation

A good resume is a combination of what you have to say and how you say it

Resumes: What I Meant to Do On My Summer Vacation

A good resume is a combination of what you have to say and how you say it

Ah, summer – a great time for organizing files, catching up on the back-burner to-do list, and preparing for the coming year. Heh. No, but seriously – summer is a time of resolutions for many of us, and then late August is a time when we suddenly feel rudely awakened. For new teaching artists, the approaching school year prompts fresh searches for jobs and gigs.
 
It starts with the resume update: a process of decisions and revisions about what jobs to include, how much detail to relate, and whether to have one resume or two (artist and teaching). For new teaching artists, it’s often most realistic to stick with one, and to break out a teaching section within your artist resume. Volunteerism, internships, classes in your basement, lecture-demos – these are all teaching. They show that you have experience breaking down the process of creating art, and communicating it to a group of people.
 
Sometimes to build up the content of this part of your resume, it might be necessary to continue to volunteer. Pick and choose settings that really provide you with professional development and networking contacts in your areas of interest. If you’re active in a school, then that could be a good place to offer volunteer services. Don’t stop at asking if they have opportunities – propose a specific activity that’s engaging and interesting, to bring to a particular class.
 
If you don’t already have a relationship, schools can be a difficult place to approach “cold.” Community settings, like arts organizations, camps, senior centers, and so on, might be a better starting point. If you know of street fairs, festivals, or other events, consider offering a brief free art-making demonstration.
 
Another experience-builder is to organize independent classes – something many artists do on their own. Outreach can include every community you’re involved in, from exercise classes to tenant associations. You can maximize the chance to build your teaching skills by consciously setting aside time to do lesson plans, and to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your teaching strategies after each class.
 
When you transfer all of this onto paper, it’s good to include information about your teaching methods, media used, the age groups you worked with (seniors, teens, children), and a summary of what your students learned. Keep highlighting your artistic credentials, as well – if you’re an award winning artist, a published illustrator, or a professional musician, these things add to your appeal as a teaching artist.
 
As with all writing, a good resume is a combination of what you have to say and how you say it. When you’ve built the “what” up enough, you’ll have a separate teaching resume to accompany your artist resume. The “how” is a matter of being both comprehensive and clear. It also involves careful proofreading – it helps to get a friend or colleague to do this, since it’s hard to proofread your own work. You can also make an appointment with me at COAHSI (kkuwabara@statenislandarts.org) if you’d like feedback on your teaching artist resume, or input on where to start.