A few people have asked how long it took me to get my job teaching abroad and then from there how long it was before I actually moved. So I’d like to share my timeline, which I think in a lot of ways is similar to many others who went the same route.
October & November
I used a company to help me find my international school placement. As a result, I had to complete all of the necessary paperwork for their online database, which schools used to find and recruit me. I started the process around October, and I had to write an essay about myself, add my resume, relevant experience, select my geographical and teaching preferences, and perhaps the most difficult part, get recommendations. I say difficult because I hadn’t taught for a few years and I had to go back and get both supervisor AND parent recommendations. (This can also be hard if you don’t want your current employer to know you’re applying for jobs.) My references had to upload their recommendations on their own (not send them to me first), so I had to wait until this was done for my file to be completed.
Once my recommendations were completed, I started contacting schools directly. I would get a daily list of schools that were hiring in the areas I was interested in/certified to teach. Schools could and did also contact me. I had a few Skype interviews but didn’t commit to anything because I wanted to see how the job fair went, which was all a part of the fee I paid to the recruitment company.
I attended the Search Associates fair in Cambridge, Mass. in early February over the course of a weekend. They generally have some seminars educating everyone on what to expect at the fair, how to navigate any job offers received, where to go for help, sessions led by each school to give additional information on the school, and a mixer so you can meet and greet other teachers, administrators and the school superintendents actually doing the hiring.
The fair started on a Friday and by Friday night I had my first job offer. I was told that I needed to accept or decline any offers I received within 24 hours so that if I did not accept, the school could offer it to someone else. So my evenings consisted of doing lots of research on the schools and the countries they were in and discussing offers with my family before I decided. By the end of the weekend I had 4 offers and I ultimately ended up in Manila.
This is when the excitement begins. You start to get paperwork from human resources, you are introduced virtually to your new co-workers, and you start to research major life decisions, like where to live or what to ship. My first placement was awesome in that I arrived and was dropped off at my apartment. The fridge already had some food in it, it was furnished, and I could get comfortable right away without having to worry about where I would live. Post hiring fair I became obsessed with finding out as much as I could about the Philippines, including creating my list of all the places I wanted to visit. I did easy things like booking my flight (for which I was reimbursed) and difficult things like find someone to take over my lease or resign for the job I was working at the time. But all in all, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was. For a long time I thought it was too good to be true.
Some Things To Note If You’re Looking Now
I first moved abroad 8 years ago almost to the day and things have changed a lot since then.
- Schools are hiring earlier and earlier each year. You may want to start closer to September instead of November.
- Even though I went to a fair, many schools now prefer to do most of their recruitment online. Attending a fair isn’t necessarily a must, though if you’re a first timer and need help figuring out which schools are actually good, it’s still an excellent way to go. There are a lot of crappy schools out there and many people can’t tell one from the other. It helps to have someone to navigate you through the process, which is why I still suggest using an agency.
- I’ve worked at two international schools now and only used the agency the first time. Once you’ve worked at one international school you network quite a bit with people from other schools and get a sense of what you like and what you don’t like in a school. It becomes a lot easier to do on your own after your first placement.
I hope this has been helpful. Still have questions? Drop your question in the comments below.