This guest post comes from Austin Morgan of Foreigner’s Finances. Austin’s currently teaching English in Japan and in his free time works on expanding his Japanese vocabulary from 25 words to 50.
I recommend you all check out Austin’s previous post, prior to reading this: 5 Steps to Get You Hired as an English Teach Abroad
It’s no surprise that the world is getting smaller. This is a good thing if you’re in the market for an ESL job. The demand for English speakers is rising every day, and if you’re willing to make the move and turn your life upside down, you can find a job.
Locating a specific ESL job that fits your wants and needs is a little more difficult. This is where you turn to your college’s network for help. Let’s take a deeper look at how your tuition money can help get you employed in Brazil, India, or Taiwan.
The Office of International Programs
It may have a different name depending on your school, but the Office of International Programs is the the one that runs your study abroad and international programs. They know about the ESL jobs that are a) available and b) legit. They’ve done the networking so you don’t have to.
ESL companies around the world contact colleges and universities with their companies information, the jobs they have available, and the applicants they’re looking for.
Now that you’ve started building your internationally themed resume in school, you’re the candidate these companies are looking for and your Office of International Programs will help get you in the door and into an interview.
Here’s how to utilize them to find you a job abroad…
1) Locate and contact your school’s Office of International Programs
Set up a meeting with someone in the office and let them know you’re interested in jobs abroad as an ESL teacher. Let them know what countries you’re interested so they can do some prep work before they meet with you.
2) Prepare for the meeting and treat it as a job interview (Important!!!)
You don’t have to wear a tie or bring a briefcase, but show the Office that you’re worthy of a job. Show them you’re professional, passionate, and hard-working because the first impression they have of you, will show them how serious you are about teaching ESL.
If you walk in to the meeting with a t-shirt that reads “Female Body Inspector” and say things like, “Yeah, I don’t know, I want a job abroad or something” they won’t go above and beyond for you. They’ll see how apathetic you are and they’ll forget about you as soon as you leave the office.
This is important because the workers in the Office have connections to programs around the world. They know owners of companies, have friends who work abroad, have maybe taught abroad themselves, and are interested in this stuff. If you wow them with your presence, demeanor, and work ethic they will make it their duty to get you a job. They will make extra phone calls for you, they will introduce you to colleagues since they believe in you, and they trust they can put their name behind you in any situation.
The OOIP can get you in the door, but you must do your part to stay as a guest. Don’t expect them to pick up the phone and for you to be on a plane the next week. The most they will do is get you an interview, but often that is the hardest part of the equation.
3) Don’t put too much stock into a companies surface appeal
You’ll be handed tons of brochures and information about potential ESL companies. Don’t judge them by their cover. Take as many leads as you can, because there’s no reason you should pigeonhole yourself to one or 2 potential jobs. Play the odds and get as much information from as many companies as possible.
If you think you’ve found the brochure of your dream ESL job, follow the lead. However, don’t put all of your ESL eggs in that ESL basket. Spread your eggs around to different countries/companies/opportunities because the job you eventually find will almost certainly differ from what your initial expectations were about working abroad.
4) Meet with multiple people in the Office
These people were hired and are in the office for different reasons. Some have connections to different areas of the world, some are better communicators than others, some will work harder for students. My college had 3 workers in the OOIP and they all had vastly different personalities, backgrounds, and connections.
Don’t assume your first meeting is the only one. Schedule a meeting with every person in the OOIP if you can. Spread yourself around and see what they each have to offer. You may want to do this secretly to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, but it’s vital that you get differing opinions from every worker.
One may tell you that teaching in Brazil is the most dangerous and wasteful job in the world, while another may say he or she loved their 5 years in Sao Paulo and has a friend who works at an after-school program that they can introduce you to.
You’re in the networking faze so don’t cut any ties at this point. Your OOIP is your best resource so use every single part of that resource to its full potential.
5) Follow-up and be gracious
Yes, it’s the OOIP’s job to help out students, but it’s always considerate to thank and thank again. The more you stay in their minds, the more likely they are to help you out. This is part of the wowing process and it doesn’t stop after you had your meeting. Send a thank you note if you can because it shows hard work and care. Perhaps, they’ll post it in their office and you’ll be a constant reminder for them to help you locate a job.
These people want to see students succeed, so keep them up-to-date about your situation. Don’t contact them every day because you’ll be deleted quickly, but every couple weeks shoot them an e-mail letting them know how
the process is going. Ask for advice. They handle a lot of meaningless administrative work; you’re journey will be a much-needed break for them.
These are real people you’re school provides for free, so don’t treat them like Craigslist. Create a quality relationship with the workers at your OOIP, and hopefully, they will be your liaison between you and your future job.
The ESL job market is inefficient. There’s high turnover because you’re dealing with teachers who are usually travelers/wanderers/nomads. Often they don’t like to be held down so they maybe teach for a year or 2 and then move
elsewhere. These companies need workers, and your Office knows of jobs that are available. There are more ESL jobs available than you think, but you will have trouble locating them without the help of your school’s OOIP.
Editor’s Note: I’m officially considering trying this out in 2011. I’m a little apprehensive about leaving home for an extended period of time, but I definitely do see the benefits to it. Where do you guys stand? Has Austin convinced any of you to try this yet? Is anyone else considering working abroad?