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Posted by on Aug 18, 2011 in Spring Break, Stories | 0 comments

Teaching Abroad is More than Just Fun

Many college graduates leave campus and head to a big city to work for a company in an entry-level position and work hard for their first few years after graduation.  However, it doesn’t have to be that way, and there are plenty of ways to still be a professional and have fun and make money.

by Jenn Pedde
University of Southern California

As much as that sounds too good to be true, and like some sort of sales pitch, it’s actually true.  Plenty of twenty-somethings are changing the status quo and going off to get international work experience abroad.

If you’re a native English speaker the opportunities to teach abroad are endless, and it is up to you to find the perfect deal.   If you’re solely looking for experience and not concerned about how to fund it, teaching English in South America is perfect.  Jobs don’t pay much down there, but you’ll be just as professionally challenged.  Teaching English in Europe is also another alternative, but as an American you will have an incredibly hard time finding a job because you lack a European Union passport.  The British have this market cornered for obvious reasons.  That leaves Asia – and it is ripe for someone fresh out of college or a young professional looking to get away and still keep working and making money.  Be careful in choosing your countries though.  A third world country like Thailand make look appealing but do your research.  Sticking to modern countries like Japan or South Korea or even China may be amongst your safest choices and most lucrative.

The teaching abroad requirements are different for each country in each continent.  Some require teaching degrees or certificates; others just require you to be a native English speaker.  Seoul, South Korea for example does not require any certification, and it pays amongst the best in the world.  The hardest part may be signing a contract for one year, which is generally the minimum you will find.


Choosing To be Different – And the Benefits Involved

Choosing an untraditional career path is rewarding.  People often regret not going abroad in college, and this experience could more than make up for that. Teaching abroad isn’t just a vacation; it’s a chance to actually gain valuable international work experience.  It also isn’t just something you do to get away; it can severely impact your future choices.  For example, if you were inspired by the experience you could earn your Masters in TESOL to continue teaching around the world.   People also often return home after this experience and want to get an MBA online or become nurses.

If you’re afraid that this may look like you took a year off to a future employer, think again.  The first thing most future employers will zero in on in your resume will be the exotic location you chose to spend a year working in.   So yes, while you may have traipsed through Chinese mountains on weekends, or spent a week during summer vacation on the beaches of Laos, you spent your Monday through Friday working hard for a company.  You will have plenty of bullet points to demonstrate all of the tasks you were charged with as a teacher.

This may be an unconventional career path, but it is how you decide to use the time that will make you the most attractive candidate in a future job interview.  Create a blog, become a travel writer, grow a community and then go work at Lonely Planet or Frommer’s.  Start an adventure travel club while abroad for western foreigners and be an entrepreneur.   The possibilities really are endless, and no one says you need to spend your 20s, or your life in a cubicle.   The choice, and the benefits, are entirely up to you.

This post is written by Jenn Pedde who is the community manager for the Master in Social Workprogram at the University of Southern California, which has one of the nation’s leading military social work concentrations.  She’s an avid traveler and loves photography.

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