April 2021 GPS Career Story: Mr. Pete Echols from Southern Teachers Agency

February 9, 2021
Graduate and Postdoctoral Success
Dr. Pete Echols

Mr. Pete Echols from Southern Teachers Agency

You’ve got ~ a minute or 350 words to give us your elevator pitch. Who are you? What are you all about?

I am a Placement Counselor and Texas School Agent who lives in Virginia. I help teachers find jobs and I help schools fill their open positions. My background is as a classically trained musician and music teacher. I’ve always been passionate about teaching young people and helping to ensure a brighter future. I attended public schools for my entire educational career, but I started my teaching career at a private school. I never saw myself in the private sector, but I found a home in this new world.

While I’m still involved with classical music, my focus has shifted to other authentic forms of music. I am particularly interested in indigenous music, representation, and culture. I am a lover of film and food. I live in a small, but bustling city in Virginia with my wife and two cats. I look forward to travelling once the world opens back up.

Your experience with interviewing for your job? Any advice for people that are preparing for interviewing?

As someone who interviews people every day, one major piece of advice comes to mind. While it is maybe a bit uninspired, I think the most important thing in an interview is to just be yourself. Interviewers want to get to know you and see your personality. They want to know if you would be a good fit at the company or organization. The interview usually isn’t the place to prove that you’re qualified; you are unlikely to get an interview if you are unqualified for the position. Rather, the interview is the chance for you to show them who you are.

Now that I’m sitting on the other side of the proverbial desk, I think back to some of my interviews and cringe. I tried to present myself as an ultra-professional, super-confident person who knows all the answers. While professionalism, confidence, and knowledge are all important traits, they are not my entire personality. Most of all, people like happy people, so it’s not a bad thing to smile and enjoy the conversation.

How do you keep your network up to date? Is this difficult or easy for you?

I am constantly networking, which is hard for me because at the end of the day, I’m an introvert. When I was in teacher school, they told me that a big part of teaching is acting. Mr. Echols, the teacher, is a loud, silly, ridiculous human being who will do anything for a laugh and isn’t afraid to dance or jump around if it will help the concept come across. Pete, on the other hand, is a quiet person who would rather sit and enjoy a film. I channel a bit of Mr. Echols anytime I’m at an event. I’m constantly introducing myself to musicians and other professionals and making sure to learn and remember their names. Don’t be afraid to follow up with a message. Seemingly unimportant interactions can lead to big results.

Mr. Pete Echols presented his GPS Career Story on Tuesday, April 13 at 3 pm. Although you missed the opportunity to ask him questions, you can still watch his Career Story at the Graduate School's YouTube Channel. To find out when the next Career Story will be held, check our calendar.