It has now been a year since I decided to engage in the Course Director application process in earnest and I figured I would share my experience of the application process as many have requested. I am not going to spoil the CDTC by talking about that in detail, but I will touch upon it so you have an idea of what to focus on along the way that is of use.
First off, prepping for CDTC application - the guidelines say that it takes about 2 years of prep to get an application ready - thats accurate, but in my case, the first year of that was simply figuring out what ducks needed to be in a row and creating situations where requirements could be met, for instance, planning out Project AWARE activities and documenting them for use later on in the application.
Advice: Print our the CDTC Application and read it - several times - then consider the requirements in planning for the next couple of years.
Webinars: As a benefit of being a PADI Pro, you are invited to attend either in real time or by viewing the recorded webinar. These are available on the Pro Site. Every time that you watch one of these, take notes, summarize it and hold onto it (you may also submit it to Instructor Development to be added to your Professional Record file). These count towards the points necessary to compete with others applying. Up to three years worth count prior to application, so get working on them in reverse order. Not sure what is already on your file - ask Instructor Development at your local PADI Office and they will tell you what they have on file for you.
Advice: Plan on attending DEMA and make contacts with others applying for CDTC
DEMA: Plan on attending DEMA, even if you have never gone before and arent involved in the "retail" side of things - you will attend lots of seminars sponsored by PADI - plan out your attendance at DEMA to maximize the number of the PADI seminars that you attend. Take a look around when you attend the one on becoming a PADI Course Director - its conducted by the people that run the CDTC and the people in that room are the competition for spots at CDTC - they are also the people that you will become fast friends with in the future when you do attend CDTC, so make say hello to them, make contact with them, say "Hi" - when you arrive on the first day of CDTC it sure is nice to see some familiar faces.
IDC Staff Instructor Update: Also at DEMA, but this time in the pool. The pool sessions are run by the same people that will be conducting the CDTC. For me, it had been a while since I did my IDC Staff Instructor - was great to update some approaches to teaching, and it certainly made it easier later on when I started staffing lots of IDCs.
Advice: When you think you have gotten your ducks in a line and have a plan for getting the rest of the requirements knocked out, contact PADI Instructor Development and get into the Mentorship Program
Staffing IDCs: Here was a biggie for me that I wish I had understood the requirement better from the beginning. Of the 2 year process of prepping for application, 1 year out I made contact with PADI to register my interest in enrolling and I was put in the mentorship program. Great! I got Eric as my mentor and it was an excellent experience. They run your file and give you a report on what you need to do to have a competitive application. For me that meant staffing about 7 IDCs - Humm! The application said that you had to have 2 by one of the several different methods available (Assistant Instructors, OWSI's etc.), but that number, as was explained to me, puts you in as a valid applicant, but at the very bottom of the list.
So, in September, in the Northeast USA, where do you find 5 additional IDCs to staff? The answer is to find you friendly local Course Director - your CD knows the other CDs in your area - we meet each other at IDC's meetings, etc. and many work together at IDCs and in organizing Instructor Exams. So, even if your LDS doesn't have an IDC going on, they most likely know where others are going on - that worked for me and I am happy to pass the good will on.
As an IDC Staff Instructor your certification does not only grant you the ability to certify Assistant Instructors, it also grants you the ability to staff IDCs and work with CDs on delivering these programs. From the point, 2 years out, that you decide to work towards CDTC application, budget time and resources to staffing IDCs. You dont have to be affiliated with the 5 Star that is running the IDC to staff, they will welcome you to staff the IDC for in most cases a fee. Spots for staffing are generally very limited. When I started staffing IDCs I was lucky to staff with IDCs that were in DE and PA (my eternal thanks to Gary and Jessica), but the other IDCs I had to go further afield to attend - the expense increases with distance and the time commitment also increases.
Advice: Staff as many IDC's locally as you can in preparation for CDTC application - if you need more, you may need to travel as far as Florida to staff more when winter comes around. Planning to apply to CDTC in a few years? Start staffing IDCs now - 7 years worth of them are considered in your application!
When staffing IDCs, ensure that you get a letter from the CD indicating what you did on the IDC - this is required as part of the application to ensure that the IDC counts. This is a newer requirement and some CDs may not be aware of it as, while it was on the application form when they may have applied, it wasn't enforced - it is now!
Advice: Enjoy the application process - it is as much fun as you allow it to be - you will learn new things along the way, meet great people that you will call friends for a long time after you have gotten into the program, and don't be afraid to ask for help - You will be surprised how many people out there will be rooting for you!
Addendum: If you found this interesting and want to know more about the CDTC application process - post a response to this blog entry - if I get enough comments, likes or shares of the post I will take the frequently asked questions on it and create another post with some more tips and lessons learned.