Virginia teachers...help please!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Teacherella, Jun 27, 2009.

  1. Teacherella

    Teacherella Habitué

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    Jun 27, 2009

    We will be moving to VA in the next few months because of my husband's job. We're probably going to move around Stafford, Woodbridge, Dumfries/Triangle, or Fredericksburg areas and I was hoping for some information about the job market and districts there.

    I live in NJ and have a Masters in Elementary Education and a special education certification. I have not taken the VA certification tests so I don't know if that will automatically disqualify me from interviewing for positions. Do you know of anyone from out-of-state getting hired without taking the VA tests (on a provisional/conditional offer)? I'll be looking for a mid-year job at first (I have to finish up an interim teaching position I got here in NJ until Dec.) and then looking for my own classroom. Are there more job openings in special education? How about any private special education schools? If so, are they more lenient on not having the required tests completed right away?

    Sorry about all the questions, but it's such a confusing process and I want to do my research. Thanks!
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I went in the opposite direction- from Virginia to NJ. Why not pm RainStorm if she doesn't post directly here? She is in Virginia (Norfolk area).
     
  4. lilmisses1014

    lilmisses1014 Comrade

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    I don't live anywhere near where you will move to and know nothing about the local job market, but I can tell you that districts do hire provisionally-licensed teachers. Call HR office for the area districts to find out more information. In VA, when you get your provisional license, you have 3 years to complete the missing requirements. (Though I think if they choose to change those requirements, you would have to comply with the new rules.)

    The other thing is, if you have so many years (I think 3) of contractual teaching experience, you wouldn't have to take the exams.

    Good luck to you!!
     
  5. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    Are you talking about Praxis? Why don't you take them now, so that when you get down here, you don't have to worry about it? Right now, a lot of districts are upping class sizes and reducing the number of teachers needed. Of course, with retirements and teacher transfers, districts are still hiring, just not as much. I would think that in a job market like this, you would want to make your hiring as easy as possible. You probably could be eligible to be hired on a provisional certificate, but if you were a principal, you might be tempted to go with the candidate who is fully certified.

    At my school, in Prince William County, we did have a provisionally-certified SPED teacher. It might help that you have the SPED certificate. If you have any other questions about PWCS me know, or PM me.
     
  6. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Prince William and Fairfax say they mostly hire in July. Most districts will not hire provisionals except in critical areas, including special ed. If you check the state department of education website, all of the routes to certification are spelled out. Virginia uses Praxis II, but not Praxis I. There is a separate literacy exam, VCLA/VRA. I have a friend who teaches spanish in Prince William. She moved from Pennsylvania and has not yet taken the VCLA, so they don't require that immediately.

    For a mid-year position, Fairfax County is probably your best bet. They always need special ed teachers and that is a fairly transient area, not to mention a huge district, so chances are good. They are super strict on provisionals, although they make exceptions for special education.
     
  7. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    I don't believe you have to take the literacy exam if you have taught for more than 2 years. I didn't take it when I moved from Maryland.
     
  8. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    Very true. The destaffs from the budget cuts have been processed. My principal has several interviews lined up this week.
     
  9. MsBee

    MsBee Devotee

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    So I do have a chance for both of these districts!!
    It would be my dream to work at any one!
     
  10. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I would have too, but both told me they wanted to set up second interviews, but not until July. I couldn't afford to wait that long and risk everything else filling up.
     
  11. MsBee

    MsBee Devotee

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    What do you mean? Couldn't you have still set up those interviews and kept applying and then cancel if you found something?
    I have only been on a screening interview for Prince William.
     
  12. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I have a question of my own: do most districts pay VRS for you, or deduct it from your salary (as listed on the pay scales)?

    I've found two districts that specifically say they pay VRS; the rest don't specify. That could be a pretty big difference in pay.
     
  13. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I didn't have interviews scheduled. I did both screening interviews back in February, and was contacted by HR for both at the end of May saying that they would like to call me in July for an interview. I've already had several job offers and am about to sign a contract as soon as I can schedule a time.
     
  14. MsBee

    MsBee Devotee

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    Oh okay. So you did a screening interview with Fairfax as well? They told me I did not need to do one...am I missing something!!!! lol
     
  15. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I subbed in Fairfax for a few years. I've always heard that they have a pretty formal hiring process. I did screening at the job fair, and then they require the Gallup Insight, and then you often interview with HR and they do a lot of open contracts. I'm not sure how often principals do interviews/hiring.
     
  16. MsBee

    MsBee Devotee

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    Oh okay. Thanks. I'm going to call them tomorrow/
     
  17. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

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    Teacherella,
    I can't speak for all of Virginia, but I know in the area where I live, 2 districts will not consider a person who is not completely certified (they won't even consider provisionals, no matter what) and the rest will, but only in critical need areas. (Special ed is a critical need area, here.) Two will consider it, but only in hard-to-fill schools (ie really tough places to teach.)

    July is prime hiring time here. So is early August. Please remember that many localities in Virginia fall under the "Busch Gardens act" (the nickname given to the law that requires we start school the week after Labor Day.) This means our school years start ridiculously late and last to mid June (much later this year, because of a late-falling Labor Day.) Some localities that aren't related to the tourism industry or which operate year-round schools are exempt.

    Someone asked about VRS. Most districts do pay the VRS -- but you want to check specifically to make sure. You have to think about that, because it will be important to you later in life.

    Midyear hires can be tricky, but there are always some midyear retirements (I'm one of those teachers who was originially hired in January, so when my time comes for retirement, it will happen in January.) Also, some people don't make it teaching, and their positions come open. Some areas are military, and they have transfers. You just never know.

    If all you need is the Praxis II, go ahead and set up to take it. It isn't hard, and once you have it done, you have it all taken care of.

    I know in our area, we sometimes have to go out of the country to fill all of our special ed positions. We often recruit from the Phillipines because we simply don't get enough qualified applicants (hmmmm inner city AND special ed -- can't imagine why people aren't knocking our doors down trying to get in?) ;) However, if you are looking for general ed, principals always need general ed teachers who want to do the inclusion classes and co-teach with a special ed teacher. Many new teachers don't want to do it, and your education in both areas will make you more marketable.

    In Virginia, we live and die by the SOLs (Standards of Learning) so if you get an interview here, review them before you come. In elementary school, 3rd, 4th, and 5th are SOL testing years -- and are quite stressful to teach. As a new teacher, you are basically evaluated by how well your students do on the SOLs, so you want to wow them at an interview with your understanding of how the tests work, the standards they cover, and how you'll remediate and teach test-taking strategies. How you are going to get your students motivated to do their best is a point you want to sell, even if the question isn't asked. If schools don't do well on the SOLs, there are serious consequences for the school as a whole -- so it is important.

    Good luck with your job search.
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    See, I told you Rain would have great words of wisdom on this subject!! :p
     
  19. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

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    Here is the current list of districts with job openings in Virginia from teachers-teachers.com. Some are near, some are far -- but this is what is listed right now.

    Elementary Classroom Teacher
    Montgomery County Public Schools
    Christiansburg, VA

    Second Grade
    Calvary Road Christian School
    Alexandria, VA

    Kindergarten
    Calvary Road Christian School
    Alexandria, VA

    Elementary Title I Math/Reading 09-10 SY
    Surry County Public Schools
    Surry, VA

    Early Childhood/Elementary
    Fairfax County Public Schools
    Fairfax, VA

    Science
    Fairfax County Public Schools
    Fairfax, VA

    Elementary Teachers
    Accomack County Public Schools
    Accomac, VA

    Early Childhood/Elementary
    Amherst County Public Schools
    Amherst, VA

    4th Grade
    King and Queen Public Schools
    King and Queen Courthouse, VA

    Elementary PreK-5 2009-10
    Danville Public Schools
    Danville, VA

    Intermediate School Grades 5 or 6
    Manassas City Public Schools
    Manassas, VA

    Elementary Teacher (Grades TBD)
    Manassas City Public Schools
    Manassas, VA

    Early Childhood/Elementary
    Sussex County Public Schools
    Sussex, VA

    Part-Time Gifted Teacher Elem. and Middle
    Buena Vista City Schools
    Buena Vista, VA


    Elementary Grades
    Norfolk Public Schools
    Norfolk, VA

    Elementary Grades
    Norfolk Public Schools
    Norfolk, VA


    Early Childhood/Elementary
    Way of Faith Christian Academy
    Fairfax, VA

    Infant Educator
    Charlottesville City Schools
    Charlottesville, VA

    Elementary Teachers
    Stafford County Public Schools, Inspiring Excellence
    Stafford, VA

    Elementary Teachers
    Loudoun County Public Schools
    Ashburn, VA

    3rd Grade Teacher
    Faith Christian School
    Roanoke, VA

    4th Grade Teacher
    Faith Christian School
    Roanoke, VA
     
  20. MsBee

    MsBee Devotee

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    Jun 29, 2009

    RainStorm thanks for all the info. I am so happy that there is still a chance. Like I said I am banking on Prince William or Fairfax county. I just want to do everything right so I can get interviewed and get a job.
     
  21. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

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    MsBee,
    Here is the proposed salary scale for the 2009 school year. http://www.pwcs.edu/finance/budget/2009/Scale09ProposedBudget.pdf
    You have to scroll down to where it says "195 day employees"
    to see the actual pay scale for teachers. It hasn't been approved yet, but it will give you an idea.

    Be forewarned however, the cost of living in that part of Virginia is higher than in many others -- so while the starting pay seems quite good, you have to take the whole picture into account.
     
  22. MsBee

    MsBee Devotee

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    lol...when I said banking I meant it sarcastic as in I am putting all my eggs in the baskets of fairfax and prince william county.
    All of the other states I have applied to are not hiring AT ALL. My luck has to come from VA.
    Thanks for your help though.
    As for cost of living...yes it is very high but I am willing to commute if needed.
     
  23. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

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    I just checked the cost of living figures for Prince William:

    Estimated median household income in 2007: $87,243
    Prince William County: $87,243
    Virginia: $59,562


    Median contract rent in 2007 for apartments: $1,142
    Prince William County: $1,142
    State: $753


    Estimated median house or condo value in 2007: $435,100 Prince William County: $435,100
    Virginia: $262,100

    County population in July 2007: 360,411 (91% urban, 9% rural)
    County owner-occupied houses and condos: 67,798
    Renter-occupied apartments: 26,772

    As you can see, it isnt cheap to live in Prince William County. It is a beautiful area, but it is quite expensive, as is most of NoVa (what locals call the Northern Virginia area.)
     
  24. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

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    Oh, and that apartment cost is very low for this area. It is doubtful you could even find anything for under $1500 per month. More like $2200 if you want to live in a decent apartment. Of course, if you are planning on buying a home (and can afford one there) then you won't have to worry about an apartment.
     
  25. MsBee

    MsBee Devotee

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    Not planning on buying a home anytime soon but I did pick up an apartment book while I was there during my screening interviews.
     
  26. MissH225

    MissH225 Comrade

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    Ms.Bee-
    Do you have your Virginia license yet? Just wondering b/c now I'm looking into the Prince William schools too.
     
  27. MsBee

    MsBee Devotee

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    No I don't. I just graduated in May with my degree and have not even applied for it yet. They screened me and said I was good to go for now so.....I guess when you get hired you can teach provisionally. I really don't know though.
     
  28. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    You really CAN'T commute to PWS or Fairfax. There is simply nowhere to commute from. You could live in Fredericksburg and get a 1BR apartment for $900, but you would sitting in traffic a solid 2 hours each way, more on Fridays because lots of people do this so it gets to be stop and go traffic starting at 3pm on the dot. There might be more options for PWS, but traffic is horrendous everywhere in Northern Virginia. It is not uncommon for it to take 20 minutes to drive to a grocery store a mile or two from your house. When I subbed in FX, sometimes it would take me 15 minutes in the morning to get to a school and 2 HOURS to get home at 3:00. This was not completely unusual and these schools were only 7-8 miles from my house in Springfield. The areas in Maryland that are within driving distance are as expensive. In order to save money, you would need to plan on 3-4 hours a day round trip.

    I don't want to scare you though. If you are in a critical need area, the county has a great housing subsidy program for teachers, police and fire. It has been a huge issue in FX. A lot of teachers got priced out and flooded out of the county when property values skyrocketed. It was only 4 years ago that I worked there, and I was shocked to discover that almost nobody I knew is still at the schools--and they were long time employees in many cases.

    A lot of apartments with more reasonable sounding rent were built under special financing plans and teachers make too much money to live in them. It is easy to find roommates in the area though because almost every young professional needs to have them, plus all of the colleges around.
     
  29. MsBee

    MsBee Devotee

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    Well I guess I need to do a little more research! lol
    I know someone who lives in DC and commutes to fairfax. I need to ask them more about the area. Thanks everyone for all the info. It really helps.
     
  30. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

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    I was just about to type this exact same thing. The only places close by are more expensive, and the cheaper places are hours away because of horrible traffic.

    If you don't mind sharing with 3 or 4 roommates (I wouldn't be able to stand this arrangement, but some people don't mind) then go for it.

    It is really hard to find a safe place to live -- because the safe places with subsidies -- you will make too much to qualify. The places you can qualify for, are not great. And sharing with numerous roommates brings all kinds of problems I wouldn't want to even begin to consider.

    I'm not trying to scare you -- but unless you have some very compelling reason for moving to this area (near inmediate family, etc) I would look elsewhere. You will never be able to live a good life here as a teacher. You will always be living from paycheck to paycheck and with a gaggle of roommates. To me, that just isn't the way I would want to live -- and I certainly wouldn't relocate to live that way.

    Just my 2 cents worth....
     
  31. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    DC INTO Fairfax is as "against the traffic" as Northern Virginia gets. A nice place to live in DC is even more expensive. You can zip up 95 without too much trouble.

    I would recommend checking out local traffic sites. The radio station WMAL has a good one and they link to all the traffic cams. Basically, you do not want to need the Fairfax County Parkway or 95 for long stretches. People apparently can't drive and there are always delays. I really don't mean to sound doom and gloom. I went to high school and community college in the area, and I like it there. But traffic is a HUGE part of daily life, even if you are driving reasonably short distances. Time of day matters a lot too. I had classes at the community college and never scheduled 9:30 am classes if I could help it. I could get to a 1 pm class in 20 minutes, but a morning prime time class would take over an hour. For most teaching jobs, if you live in the county, morning travel isn't horrific. But afternoon rush hour starts in full force by 3.

    And if you are driving an hour or more in each way, you need to factor in the gas prices, which tend to be high for Virginia (as much as .50 higher than the rest of the state).

    Traffic in PWS is not as bad.
     
  32. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    BTW, FX recruiters will never tell you this because they have a stick up their rear about how great they are and how they can be the choosiest in hiring in the state, but FX has an IMMENSE staff turnover simply because of the cost of living. If you are in a critical shortage area, you can get a great $1500+ 1BR apartment in FX for around $900 I think as long as you make less than $50k.

    I can tell that the schools vary widely, but most of them are very nice, although I hated the big secondary schools. I thoroughly believe that sticking 7th graders in with juniors and seniors is asking for trouble. My opinion though. Even the "rougher" schools like Mount Vernon and West Potomac have good administration and always seemed well run. There were few schools that I did not enjoy taking sub jobs at. I found one of my regular schools had a big gang problem because kids were getting in trouble for wearing coats into the building. In the winter! I thought this very odd since it was snowing. Why make the kids take off coats, hats, gloves before the get inside? But, the school was well run with good safety measures, that I actually never knew this from my few days a month sub jobs. The atmosphere in the school was still relaxed, friendly, and felt safe (to me).

    Actually, now that I have typed all of this, I am sort of glad I have already accepted an offer. I thought I would like Fairfax because of the proximity to things and my familiarity with the schools, but yeah, I think I'm better off!
     
  33. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    Can't get a decent apartment for less than $2200? Are you talking to the OP with the family, or Ms. Bee, the fresh-out-of-college singleton? I lived in Fairfax as recently as last year, and there are tons of apartments in Fairfax for much cheaper than $2200. I lived near Fair Oaks/Fair Lakes, which has every store you could possibly imagine in a 2-mile radius (including heaven on earth...WEGMAN'S), and I was paying about $1200 for a 1BR in a quiet apartment complex. Being young and single, however, you might want a roommate. For the OP with the family, it will definitely be more, but you'll have two salaries, right?

    The traffic does stink in places, but I was doing the reverse commute from Fairfax to Manassas, and it was a breeze. You really need to find your work first, and then your apartment, preferably after you see what rush hour is like for your commute. Whoever said that a drive can take 15 minutes at one time of day and two hours at another time is not exaggerating, depending on where you live. Luckily, I don't live near those places!

    To Teacherella: is your husband working in Quantico?
     
  34. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    You really need to get your license, especially if you're qualified for it. In all the interviews I've listened in on, the candidate has their license, or is a brand-new teacher waiting for the application to be processed. You are putting yourself at a disadvantage if you don't have it. Principals like the peace-of-mind knowing that they won't lose a candidate to some snafu.
     
  35. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    $1200-1500 is definitely doable for a 1BR apartment. It is hard to find much below $1200 without income restrictions. The apartments around Fairlakes or Fairfax Corner are the same ones that Fairfax uses for new teachers, so they are nice places if you can get the subsidy deal. They are not lower income, but nice places that just have deals for fire, police and teachers. But, contrast that with another area (Stafford or Fredericksburg, for example): you might make $3,000/yr less, but you can get a nice apartment and all utilities for under $1000/month. Personal property taxes are a lot less too.

    Fairfax area has Tysons and Whole Foods though. There are definite selling points. I am sad I will not be near a WF.

    Definitely get your license in order for Fairfax. They have a huge HR department, so I bet if you have all the requirements, they will help you push the paperwork through. If you are eligible for the license, that is a different situation than provisional. I would call them now and ask for advice.

    At the job fair I went to, the recruiter would not schedule an interview for me because I will be provisional, but I insisted on leaving my resume since I know full well they have a shortage in my area, she grudgingly said she would pass it along, but warned me they don't hire provisionals except for special ed. Then, a couple hours later, they called me to schedule the screening for the 2nd day. Then they told me AGAIN that they won't hire provisionals, but that they would "be in touch." Then, a month later they called me to say they wanted to do an on-site interview but were not able to schedule until July and last month the job fair recruiter sent me an email saying they wanted to schedule interviews in July and would be in touch.
     
  36. Teacherella

    Teacherella Habitué

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    Wow...I didn't realize this post had so many responses! I have taken the Praxis and passed, it's just the literacy one I didn't take yet (because you have to take it in VA - no out of state places to take it). So far, I applied to Stafford via their online application. They have SO many job postings so hopefully I'll get a call. If they even call this month for me to start in September (wishful thinking), then I still have time to tell my principal that I won't be taking the interim position. Anyway, thanks for the info. I'm applying to Manassas too. :)
     
  37. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Stafford is right near Quantico Marine Base, so I'm sure they have a lot of teachers come and go. Stafford itself is fairly expensive, but Fredericksburg is close enough to commute from.

    I think most (all?) Virginia schools are starting back on the 8th of September this year. Super late.
     
  38. Teacherella

    Teacherella Habitué

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    We start on Sept. 8th so I'm used to it, but we got out on June 24th...super late because of snow days.
     
  39. melissa803

    melissa803 Comrade

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    I used to teach in Stafford and taught in Spotsylvania (which is where I grew up)too. I lived in Fredericksburg. The traffic would be a lot better here than in NOVA but not as much city life stuff to do. There a commuter train (VRE) that runs up to DC. There is a high teacher turnover in a lot of places around Stafford because of the nature of government jobs in DC and the marines. Let me know if you get an interview. I might know people or have insight on some of the schools in Stafford. My mom retired from Spotsy.

    Smurfette, there's a Wegman's in Fredericksburg now!
     
  40. Teacherella

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    Melissa - if you have any contacts still at Stafford, please let me know. I was originally going to apply for mid-year jobs because I was offered an interim position until Dec. But, if I can get a job in VA starting in September, that would be great!
     
  41. Teacherella

    Teacherella Habitué

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    Jul 1, 2009

    Also, do you know how long it takes them to contact you after completing your online application? I just did it today, but I'm curious how fast they respond if they are interested.
     

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