The Other Side of the Table

This weekend I attended a teacher job fair with members of my team. Each time I attend a job fair in metro Atlanta, feelings of anxiety and sadness enter my mind for a brief moment. It reminds me of the years I’d drive up to Atlanta from Macon or Augusta in search of a teaching position. Dressed in my best suit, with several resumes and cover letters printed on the best paper I could afford. During those days, there was great excitement around job fairs because school districts were scrambling to compete for the best applicants, and contracts were being offered on the spot. Unfortunately, I never was able to land a position…each time leaving the job fair disappointed, wondering why it didn’t work out.

The irony is that the only job fairs I’ve attended since then are the ones where I’m seeking candidates to join our team. I haven’t forgotten what it felt like to be on the other side of the table looking for a position. Engaging with candidates on a deeper level to know what they bring to the table is equally important as experience and certifications. Who you are is as relevant as what you’ve accomplished.

Now, on the other side of the table, as a school principal, I can see that the job fair is a much more complex operation than I’d assumed back then. Principals are looking for the right mix of the 5E’s – experience, expertise, education, extra-curriculars and enthusiasm. More importantly, the doors that don’t open for you now are meant to stay closed because other doors are waiting on you to arrive. Had I secured a job at one of those job fairs I’d attended, I would not have had the experiences I’ve had along the way. I would not have met the people, the opportunities, and the learning experiences that shaped me. Being on the other side of the table has helped me to accept that postponement is not synonymous with failure. Sometimes it’s like a GPS, simply rerouting you after a wrong turn. The trip isn’t over, it’s just sending you in another direction.

Our vision of our lives seems so clear in our minds, but there is a larger, more magnificent plan that we often don’t see as we are envisioning our future. Trust the process, accept the closed doors, and keep pushing. Your journey won’t be an easy one, but know that there is a divine plan working on your behalf. One day you may very well find yourself on the other side of the table, providing opportunities to someone on a journey of their own. I know you probably have your vision board laminated and your yearly goals are written out on a list, but if it doesn’t work out you have to keep going. Don’t allow this moment to defeat you. Let it pull out of you the greatness that has always been there waiting for the right opportunity to arrive. It’s just around the corner on the other side of the table.

Published by Andre Benito Mountain

Andre Benito Mountain is an elementary principal in the metro-Atlanta area. He is the founder of Def-ED Clothing and the author of The Brilliance Beneath (2016), "The Mountain Principles" (2018) and "Principals Don't Walk on Water" (2020) . His forthcoming book is "Virtually Lost" (2021).

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