How a year abroad can be full of discovery and growth, and propel your career
By Arnold Vis
“Does it make sense to spend a year teaching English abroad if I’m pretty sure that teaching is not a career path I plan to pursue?”
It’s a question I hear regularly, and one I also considered myself, as this summed up my own outlook after university. Over the years, about 70% of applicants tell me that teaching isn’t their chosen long-term career path during the initial interview.
I enjoy keeping in touch with alumni of our programs, and based on what I’ve seen, I don’t think teaching abroad needs to hold back your career. In fact, the experiences and skills you gain abroad can propel your career to new heights.
Here are three reasons why.
- Teaching abroad gives you time to think about what’s next, in a stimulating environment.
The final year of university can be stressful and busy, and thinking about what to do next may take a backseat to submitting your coursework and dissertation. After all, finding a career direction and purpose that you’re sure about can be hard, and having some time to think can be a benefit.
The advantage of going abroad is that you’ll be doing your thinking in an interesting, stimulating environment. Soon after you arrive, you’ll likely find yourself in a classroom with 30 or 40 students focused on you and what you have to say. There will be a language barrier, and a cultural one. This process ensures that you’ll learn more about the world, and yourself.
This environment means you get to explore somewhere entirely different to anywhere you’ve been before, try out new things, and start a journey of discovery. You may find yourself questioning cultural norms you took for granted and the career path you had tentatively sketched out.
This new environment gives you the chance to develop new interests and skills that you may have missed out on without time abroad.
- You gain essential transferable skills, it will stand out during interviews.
English teachers take responsibility for the education of often very keen students, that look to them for guidance to master an essential life skill. It’s a big and fulfilling job that allows you to make it a memorable and fruitful time together for you and the students.
You are responsible for ensuring that your students understand your teaching, contribute during your class time, feel safe under your management, and even have fun, as many schools will request that you play games to ensure student engagement.
You may also have to account for the extra time needed for challenging lessons, or perhaps the students get through the work faster than expected. All of this contributes to developing critical skills such as organisation, time management, adhering to deadlines and flexibility.
This means that you gain confidence, tolerance, public speaking skills, time management skills, and to be able to jet off to the other side of the world without friends and, in most cases, without too much grasp of the local language—it’s no mean feat.
It gives the impression of an interesting, adaptable person who doesn’t mind a challenge to prospective employers.
I heard from many former participants that they were asked about their time working aboard in subsequent job interviews.
By spending time working abroad, you show a willingness to explore, a desire to grow, a degree of adaptability and the courage to take a less travelled path.
- The options for personal and professional development are endless, and we’re here to help.
What you make of the environment and the options available are up to you, but living and teaching abroad provides endless opportunities for personal and professional development.
You can learn a new language, be as creative as you want in the classroom, start after-school clubs at your school that didn’t exist before, you can volunteer in your time off– you will be surprised with at how many choices you’ll have.
When writing this, I drew on an alumni guide we did a few years back, in which our participants reflected on their experiences a few years after the program and how they leveraged these to kick start their careers upon their return home.
As a company, we are passionate about a personalised service that helps you make the most of this incredible opportunity. We organise Zoom and in-person meetings where you can meet and hear directly from other people who have benefited from working abroad.
The program itself offers possibilities for this, as you can vlog or blog about your experience for Impact Teaching. Soon, we will add the opportunity to become a peer mentor for someone looking to do the same program as you.
Let the adventure begin and be full of discovery and growth!
Arnold’s email: email@example.com