Moving overseas is an awesome adventure, but behind this awesome adventure came a ton of work, 14 months of work to be exact! I thought it was an important enough part of this process that I needed to take a few moments to document what I learned along the way. Clearly I am not an expert, because this is only the first time I have received an overseas teaching job, but I made enough mistakes along the way to learn a few things.
- The job hunting process starts early, really really early. This was a lesson I learned the hard way. When trying to get an overseas teaching job you really need to start the process the fall prior to when you want to go. What I mean is that I wanted to start a job overseas in August of 2014 so what that really meant is I needed to start the application process in October/November of 2013. It feels crazy early but you have to start applying early.
- Go to a job fair. I went to the University of Northern Iowa’s overseas recruitment fair, twice, and loved it! I chose UNI’s job fair for two reasons 1.) I read that it is the largest overseas teaching fair in North America 2.) I live in Minnesota so it was super close and cost effective for me to get there. Going to the job fair was truly an awesome experience. Hundreds of administrators, representing schools from all over the world, gather at this job fair searching for candidates. It is the only chance I would have had to speak face to face with that many administrators. Let’s be real, Skype interviews are weird and awkward so the more time you have face to face with administrators the better.
- The more contact you make with schools before a job fair the better your chances of finding a job. Once you are signed up for the job fair you will have access to job postings and contact information for a zillion schools. You will be able to look through the jobs (which change on a day to day basis) and make contact with administrators before the job fair begins. This was a huge mistake I made the first year I went to the job fair. I didn’t realize how much work needed to be done on the front end of the job fair. When I got to Iowa, I quickly realized how many interviews had been arranged prior to anyone arriving in Iowa. This year when I arrived in Iowa, I had done at least 12 Skype interviews, had a couple of job offers, and had multiple first round and second round interviews scheduled for my time in Iowa. The difference between the first year I went to the job fair and the second was night and day, and making contact with schools prior to the fair made all the difference.
- Be open. The world is a big, big place. Be open to living and working in a whole variety of places.
- Take every interview that is offered to you. I decided that I was going to use the job fair to connect with as many schools as possible and that meant some really long days of interviewing. You never know where you might find the perfect job.
- Talk to everyone. The job fair is a fantastic atmosphere. It is a large group of people who love travel and exploring the world. Some of my favorite moments were having lunch with complete strangers who had lived in amazing places like Turkey, Eqypt, Peru, and Taiwan!
- Don’t give up. I didn’t get any job offers the first year I went to the job fair, but I used the opportunity as a learning experience and to develop a new strategy for the next year. The second year I went I had multiple job offers, so my new plan must have worked! It was so much fun to talk to Mitch and pull out a map and decide where we wanted to spend the next two years of our life.