In order to secure our job in Turkey, we went through a process of deciding if teaching English abroad was a good fit, finding the right TEFL course, enrolling in (and completing) a TEFL course, and of course finding and applying for jobs! So how did we actually secure a teaching position in Turkey all the way from Indiana? Here’s how…
1. Creating a ‘wish list’. This is important because, as we found out (and you will too), there is a high demand for English teachers around the world. Within just hours of posting our resumes on a reputable ESL job board, we received over 15 emails from recruiters (mostly in Asia, but also from other parts of the world). So having a wish list will allow you to evaluate each opportunity as well as remind yourself what you’re truly looking for. Some things to consider are:
- age of students
- type of institution (i.e., language center, public school, private school, etc.)
- benefits package (i.e., healthcare, vacation, flight reimbursement, housing stipend, etc.)
- start date
It is extremely important to think long and hard about your wish list. The goal is to recognize (and then put on paper) your preferences, as well as deal breakers. For us, teaching children was a deal breaker. We knew we definitely wanted to teach adults. Also, we knew that although in some countries it is common practice to look for a job once you’ve arrived, we felt more comfortable signing a contract before we left the US. This is probably the most important step in setting yourself up for success.
2. Searching for Jobs. Obviously you can’t find a job without searching for one, so this is key. Our TEFL certification company offered us lots of job search assistance, which we found extremely helpful. They sent us information about thousands of language schools/centers around the world, reviewed our resumes/cover letters and even reviewed our contracts before we signed them. This was integral in our ability to make ourselves marketable and confident as we moved forward with the job hunt.
3. Interviewing. This was an interesting part of the process. Via e-mail and Skype, we talked to recruiters and language teachers in Hungary, South Korea and Turkey (we could have spoken to more recruiters, but we decided we were not interested in their offers).
The interviews themselves were very different, but usually required us to explain why we were interested in teaching, our prior experience (Chris and I have very different academic and professional backgrounds and they thought we were both qualified, so I think no prior teaching experience is necessary), etc. Most of the interviews were quite informal (i.e., a conversation with the recruiter), but some were more formal. At times we felt like we were just one of many that were being interviewed (read: generic conversation) and other times, we could tell that the recruiter had taken the time to read our cover letter/resume and asked us good questions.
Being aware of how you feel in the interview process is important. Since we were halfway across the globe when we interviewed, all we could go off of was our gut feeling. Although we haven’t left for Turkey yet, I still don’t regret the decision I’ve made. My gut told me this offer was best for us and so far, it hasn’t let us down.
4. Accepting the Offer. This part was the scariest part for us. It mean that we were committing a year of our lives to a company and boss we’ve never met and in a city we’ve never visited. YIKES! It was truly one of the most terrifying and exhilarating experiences of my life. Terrifying because we both knew that we’d be leaving our stable, reliable jobs to try something new and exhilarating because we were leaving our stable, reliable jobs to try something new! As already mentioned, we had an ITA Student Affairs staff member review our contacts and let us know it seemed standard and up to normal standards.
5. Sharing the big news. Our news came as a surprise to most (even us!) but we couldn’t be happier. We submitted our two weeks notices, told our family/friends and are now trying to pack everything up!
All in all, it was a very interesting process. We went from getting TONS of interview requests (from people/places we weren’t interested in) to NO requests (we didn’t hear back from many schools we e-mailed)…and just when we were getting discouraged a few top notch recruiters contacted us and thus we began our ‘serious investigation into the schools and respective job offers.
Expert Tip: Don’t get discouraged. This is not a linear process. If you can be patient and stick with it, you will eventually find the right job for you that meets almost all the items on your wish list. Heck, it only took us 3 months to land this job!