Now that your overseas ESL placement is coming to an end, one dreaded question remains:
“What am I going to do next?”
Over the last year or two, you’ve been living it up in an exotic, faraway land.
And although you’ve met stacks of new people, traveled to inspiring places and immersed yourself in a weird and wonderful culture, you may feel it’s time to move on from the TEFL life.
Now it’s time to head back home to the great unknown—unemployed, virtually broke and clueless about your next move.
But don’t stress. Life has a way of working itself out.
And to expedite the process, here are some jobs to consider after an extended teaching stint abroad.
Why come home in the first place?
The truth is… you don’t have to.
Plenty of ESL teachers fall in love with the profession and become “lifers.” Over time, they build an impressive TEFL repertoire and pursue only the most sought-after teaching jobs around the world. Believe it or not, TEFL can be profitable for those prepared to play the long game.
Yet for many of us, teaching was only ever intended to be a temporary gig. We either had a more fulfilling career in mind or we simply wanted to experience an extended overseas jaunt.
Furthermore, to be frank, TEFL can become monotonous over time. After teaching the present perfect tense for years on end, the novelty gives way to the mundane and the excitement turns to apathy.
It certainly did for me.
Things to think about when returning home from abroad
If you haven’t yet acquired a tertiary education, now might be the perfect time to do so. Many colleges have lower entry requirements for students over 21, and your added maturity and international expertise could help you blaze through that degree.
If you’re itching to jump back into the workforce, bear in mind, you’ll probably land an entry-level position at best. Unless, of course, you already had a hefty amount of experience under your belt before leaving to teach overseas.
Remember, job hunting is a numbers game. Sign up with all the reputable recruitment agencies in your area and apply for as many relevant jobs as possible. Don’t forget to customize your C.V. and cover letter for the most promising positions.
Sprucing up your resume after teaching abroad
Your overseas TEFL experience may or may not impress future employers. Some will see it as a lack of drive or ambition, while others will appreciate your international expertise. What is certain, however, is that it becomes increasingly less valuable the further you stray from the education sector.
With that in mind, it’s essential to craft a killer resume that emphasizes your TEFL time.
Quantify as much as possible. Exactly how many lesson plans did you write per week and how much did your average student’s grade increase?
It helps to focus on a few of the following soft skills:
- Expressing complex ideas in a manner that is easily understood by a wide audience
- Presenting engaging presentations in front of large groups
- Fostering effective interpersonal work relationships with co-workers and clients
- Working with people from various ethnic and social backgrounds
Time management and organizational skills
- Demonstrating punctuality and reliability by consistently arriving to class on time
- Creating in-depth lesson plans outside of normal work hours
- Marking and returning large quantities of homework during peak periods within a short time frame
Adaptation skills and confronting change
- Adapting to a fast-paced learning environment and proactively learning while on the job
- Juggling administrative and extracurricular activities with competing deadlines
- Applying a culturally sensitive approach to working in a foreign environment
These are just a few examples of how your TEFL experience could make your resume shine. Add some of your own for optimal impact.
Life After TEFL: 6 Jobs to Consider After Teaching Abroad
Private ESL tutor
An obvious option for those returning from a long-term teaching stint is to keep on truckin’. In most large Western cities, there’s a high demand for skilled ESL teachers due to their sizable immigrant populations.
Your TEFL expertise will allow you to easily snag new clients through websites such as Craigslist and Gumtree. Best of all, you’ll be able to charge big bucks for your time while working on a schedule that’s right for you.
Another worthwhile option is to teach online via a platform such as VIPKID. Remuneration usually exceeds 20 USD per hour, and the application process is easy to ace for those with proven TEFL experience.
Those with a passion for pedagogy could continue their ideal career by teaching at a local school, college or institute.
Tired of explaining our overly complicated grammatical system? That’s no problem, because ESL won’t be the only subject you can teach when you return home. Both the public and private education systems are always on the lookout for talented educators across a number of fields.
Granted, the best gigs usually require a certain level of tertiary education. But if you do happen to have relevant qualifications, then your TEFL classroom experience will work wonders in helping you stand out from the crowd.
Did you enjoy your time overseas? Then international development is an attractive option to keep your global ambitions in check.
The downside is that this field is also highly competitive. The most prestigious positions are snapped up by experienced aid workers who hold high-level college degrees.
Nevertheless, novices could start with an overseas volunteering stint. For example, the Peace Corps and the Youth Volunteer Program sponsor programs for Americans and Australians, respectively. Most other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries have their own plans, as well.
Not only will you get paid a stipend to experience life in another culture, but you’ll be making a tangible contribution to some of the world’s most disadvantaged societies.
Best of all, the international development sector spans a wide array of disciplines, meaning almost anyone could work in development in some capacity. Example positions include doctors, lawyers, teachers, human resource officers, aid workers, administrators, foreign correspondents and economic advisers, just to name a few.
Being a digital nomad is the profession of choice for those who wish to travel the world long term.
The biggest drawcard is that it applies to a whole range of professions, from writers to photographers, to programmers and everything in between. So long as you have skills that could be sold online, being a digital nomad could work for you.
If you’re not yet confident in financing a location independent lifestyle, there’s a number of online jobs you could easily transition into from teaching. Use those newfound language skills to work as a translator, or put that impeccable knowledge of English grammar to use by taking up content writing.
While you build up your client base and skills, you could always hold a few Skype TEFL classes to make ends meet.
International student adviser
As someone who’s spent the last few years living in a foreign land, you’d be an excellent candidate to advise students on a study abroad stint.
Most colleges and tertiary institutes provide a student exchange program that requires administrative staff. And although you may not be well versed on the ins and outs of Erasmus, you’ll be able to offer some insightful advice on how to adapt to a new culture and explain the advantages of spending a year overseas.
International student advisers also look after inbound overseas students and provide assistance with logistics such as accommodation, visas, insurance, sports, language programs and overall student life.
The majority of the positions out there are entry level and can be found through employment websites or the vacancy page of your preferred institution. Applying at the same college you attended helps your chances but isn’t strictly necessary.
The travel industry is famous for extolling the virtues of travel by giving preference to experienced globetrotters during their recruitment campaigns. If, like most ESL teachers, you managed to hit the road extensively during your time away, then landing a position as a travel agent should be a breeze.
Be aware that online competition makes it tough for brick and mortar agencies to profit these days. Nevertheless, if you have the gift of the gab and a predisposition for sales, then the travel industry’s commission-based structure can be highly profitable for you.
If you’re lucky and you know your stuff, you might even get the chance to indulge in an all expenses paid holiday or two!
While you can certainly check out the vacancies page of the largest travel industry groups, positions are typically advertised on major online employment websites. Searching on sites such as Indeed could give you a better chance of finding a travel agent position close to home.
Your time as an ESL teacher abroad may be coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean the adventure has to end!
One of these jobs can provide you with just as much fun and fulfillment as your teaching job. And who knows? You might even stumble across your true calling in life.
Harry is a South American-based freelance writer who covers travel, the arts and culture, among many other things.
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