The first five years

The early career network offers events and resources for members in their first five years

By Brian Harkavy 

It is no secret that it is harder than ever to be a teacher or educational support professional (ESP), and the first five years are some of the most tumultuous of the career. Helping our young educators is more important than ever. To aid new teachers and ESPs, NJEA created the Early Career Network for members eager to connect with other members and share their ideas. The Early Career Network offers excellent events and resources to new members of the association.  

What is the Early Career Network? 

The Early Career Network (ECN) is a member-driven organization offering resources, professional development and networking opportunities all geared around members in their first five years. Events run by the Early Career Network are a great opportunity for members who are new to the field of education. The ECN offers opportunities to meet other new members from all around the state and to learn about what it means to be a part of NJEA. 

The network is broken up into four regions: Northeast, Northwest, Central and South. Each has its own team of captains who create events and resources for their region. Events are held throughout the year within each region. Captains are early career members from all over the state who volunteer to serve the Early Career Network.

The Early Career Network also has a major presence at the NJEA Convention. At its booth last year, the ECN had many resources for newer members and had a relaxation corner to enjoy some yoga between convention sessions. The Early Career Network also played a role in hosting the after-hours networking event that included delicious hors d’oeuvres and a stand-up comedian. ECN members were at their booth throughout the convention to help new members navigate the space, share information and get to know each other. 

What to expect at events 

Early Career Network events are a great opportunity to meet other new teachers and ESP in a friendly and supportive environment. Often food and beverages are served and many times there are giveaways. Events are always focused around the needs of NJEA members in their first five years. Past events included workshops such as Member Benefits, Surviving Evaluation, Self-Care and Mindfulness, and How to Read Your Paycheck. The Early Career Network has also hosted cooking classes, end-of-year celebrations, and book clubs. Events are open to all members but are primarily intended for members in their first five years. 

Where can I learn more? 

The best way to keep up with the Early Career Network is to follow it on social media. You can find the Early Career Network on Facebook, Instagram (njea_earlycareernetwork), and Twitter (@NJEA_ENC). Each region also has its own social media. You can also sign up for out for text messages and emails about events. 

Brian Harkavy is a band, chorus and general music teacher at Berkeley Township Elementary school in Bayville. He is also a captain for the central region of the Early Career Network and the Visual Caption Head for the Toms River High School East Marching Band.