Name: Steve DaCosta
College & Majors/Minors: Towson University, Class of 2010 B.S. English (Writing Emphasis), Northern Arizona University, Class of 2013, M.A. English (Writing Emphasis)
Current Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Current Form of Employment/Job Title: Full Time English Faculty
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I am currently a full-time English faculty member at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. I teach English Composition I and II in both the traditional classroom and for the online campus.
Tell us about how you found your job! How many places did you apply? What was the application process like?
The job market in my home state of Maryland was very difficult when I finished my bachelor’s in 2010. I applied to well over two dozen jobs in a variety of fields and didn’t have much luck finding anything entry level beyond unpaid or minimally paid internships. I sold cameras at Best Buy for almost a year. During that time, I decided the best way to set myself apart was to earn a master’s degree and some real world experience. My goal was always to teach, but many of my professors warned me I’d have to pay my dues in adjunct or administrative roles for a few years first.
Changing geographical locations helped! I attended graduate school at Northern Arizona University. After I graduated, I literally accepted the first education related job I was offered. Surprisingly, I was employed within a month of graduation. The job was at a large private school as a student recruiter. It was a tedious call-center environment that was outside my wheelhouse, but within a year I was able to internally transfer to the Academic Affairs office, where my duties were split between investigating student behavior/conduct and assisting faculty members with compliance and policy questions. Purely through networking, I was able to join the faculty part time. I taught sophomore level research writing part time for six months and was lucky enough just in April of this year to get hired on at my current school to teach full time. Being persistent, stacking my resume with a variety of administrative and educational experience, and networking with colleagues are the biggest factors that I attribute to my quick success in becoming a full time faculty member within two years of graduation.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
While I was in college, I did everything in my power to gain exposure to the field I wanted to work in. I went to poetry readings and department-sponsored talks, joined the English Club to network with my fellow students, and visited my professors during office hours to chat and get advice. I asked questions and took notes. Finally, I took a job as a student worker in the College of Education.
In graduate school, I took two part time jobs related to education. I worked as a tour guide and public program educator at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona for a year and a half. I also took a seasonal job as a US Park Ranger at Grand Canyon National Park. Having education-related jobs on my resume after graduation helped me prepare for being a strong candidate in the job market.
What has been the most surprising thing about being a teacher?
The first time a student told me I changed her life for the better, I shed a couple tears of gratitude. I know that sounds clichéd, but she told me that nobody had ever believed in her before. She went into my class with no confidence and thinking she’d fail, but she left with her head held high. I was a little surprised at how much stock some of the students placed in my appraisal of not only their work but their character. It made me much more patient and humble to realize that I was in a position of trust. My mentors have taught me a great deal about compassion.