5 Ways Teaching Abroad Makes You Attractive to Employers


In today’s job market, job seekers are looking for every possible advantage over other applicants. Given that even entry-level job openings often receive dozens, if not hundreds, of applications, a resume packed with top-notch experiences will make you stand out.

ma-studentsOne of the best ways to make yourself more marketable to employers is to gain international experience. Living, studying and working abroad provides you with new perspectives on the world, for sure, but it also gives you a number of the soft skills, the intangible skills that are difficult to measure objectively, that employers want from their employees. Spending a semester abroad during college is one way to gain that international perspective, but an even better way to gain that experience is to spend a year (or longer) teaching English in a foreign classroom.

If you have never considered teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) overseas, or if you have thought about it but aren’t sure, it’s important to realize that the TEFL job outlook for MA students is excellent, and the experience has far-reaching benefits beyond the personal satisfaction of helping others learn English. In fact, there are at least five ways that teaching overseas improves your marketability here in the U.S.

Independence

Teaching overseas is not for the faint of heart. Even if you have a basic understanding of the language and culture of the host country, living and working in a foreign land often presents unexpected challenges as well as opportunities. Not only does such work require that you be willing and able to tackle whatever comes your way, it also usually means living and working away from family and friends. To an employer, that demonstrates a high level of maturity and indicates that you are self-motivated and adept at independent work; plus, you will not need hand-holding in order to accomplish your tasks.

Communication Skills

The ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing is one of the most sought-after skills among today’s employers. When you teach English as a foreign language to non-native speakers, you must have excellent communication skills. If you can demonstrate a record of accomplishment of success in working with your students and helping them achieve their goals, you show an employer that you have the communication abilities that they are looking for in an employee.

Cultural Understanding

Even if an organization does not work on a global scale, there is a reasonably good chance that at some point you will need to interact with people from another culture, whether as customers, co-workers or vendors. When you work overseas, you gain not only a deeper understanding of your host country, but also of the overall guiding principles of cross-cultural communication, a valuable skill to organizations who want to effectively meet the needs of today’s globalized business environment.

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Problem-Solving Skills

Anyone who has lived and worked abroad can tell you that things do not always go as planned, and you need to be flexible and creative at times in order to solve problems. Even when working in the classroom, you may need to think quickly in order to solve a problem or develop new strategies when the ones you’ve planned do not work. Employers value employees who are able to identify problems and develop their own solutions, meaning that the skills you gain in a foreign classroom can be put to good use back home in the U.S.

Better Overall Education

One of the most common misconceptions about teaching overseas is that virtually anyone can do it. The reality is that it is not that simple, and most English language schools and companies have strict requirements that their teachers must meet. In general, teachers must, at minimum, be college-educated and be certified to teach English. Some schools even require a master’s degree or higher. Employers recognize that TEFL teachers have achieved a higher level of education and thus seek them to fill open positions.

Your friends and family may question your decision to work overseas, especially if you have never been a teacher before. Some might even argue that a TEFL job won’t help your career at all when you return, unless you plan to become a teacher here. However, they could not be more wrong, as experience in a classroom overseas can give your career a major boost in addition to all of the other positive benefits that come from the experience.

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