By Hunter Ellentuck, Class of 2012
Hey there SU! Looking for an exciting, challenging, fulfilling, rewarding, and – in some cases – lucrative job? As someone who loves and romanticizes travel and could not imagine life without the thought of a new excursion looming on the horizon, I recommend you consider obtaining certification in and working as a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) instructor outside of the United States.
Not too long ago I was in your shoes, considering the difficulties of living and working in a foreign nation, which are many, and the advantages and attractions, which, in my opinion, easily outweigh the strenuous aspects of such a prospect. I had no idea what I wanted to do for my first “real job” after my four years at Syracuse and even though I was applying to, and hearing back from, a great number and variety of potential employers, none of the positions felt “right”. All I knew for sure was that I wanted to travel, and any job which would facilitate this deep-seated urge to see as much of the world as I possibly could in my short time on this planet would be a step in the right direction.
While browsing OrangeLink, I came across a slew of positions offering certification in TEFL and TESOL, with a range of accompanying services, from bare-bones certification to assistance with visas, accommodations, and job placement. For me, this was the perfect fit: live in a foreign nation (in my case Thailand), experience and learn a new language and culture, improve the communication and survival skills of those less fortunate than me and with less access to high quality education in an increasingly globalized world, meet and become friends with some of the most intensely interesting people I have been fortunate enough to encounter, and have enough pay and vacation days that I could explore the rest of Southeast Asia from my “home base” in Bangkok.
Although I chose to live and work in Bangkok, TESOL and TEFL instructors are needed all over the world, from Argentina to Vladivostok to Samoa to South Korea to Spain to Greece and anywhere and everywhere in between. TESOL and TEFL instructors, in Southeast Asia particularly, have traditionally been older individuals looking to work part time and make a little on the side for disposable income. More and more often however, younger folks – either just out of university or making a transition between jobs – are jumping on board the TESOL ship, much to the delight of employers who prefer young native speakers for their energy, enthusiasm, and flexibility.
Even if you have no desire to make a career out of TESOL/TEFL education (personally, assuming no incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunities arise, I plan to stay in Bangkok another 2 or 3 years before moving on to South America for a few years and then who knows where), such a job is a great resume builder for any career. Being able to pack up your life and move to and work in a foreign nation says a great deal about your survival skills, communication/interpersonal skills, and adaptability – all traits which are highly desirable in any field of work.
If you have any questions about TESOL/TEFL certification, being an English teacher in a foreign nation, Bangkok, Southeast Asia, or life in general, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.