Anyone who has googled, “how to travel for free” has by now, like myself, surely gotten the swift reality kick in the face: it is basically impossible. The only viable exception is getting a job abroad. While travel isn’t my only motivation for moving to Korea, I can have to be honest and say that it is a major perk. P.s. Ex-study abroad students, you know who you are and you know you have googled or wondered the same thing.
This is not an exhaustive “how to get a job in South Korea” (or overseas in general) type of post. There are already a billion and one of such posts on the internet. I just wanted to give a run down of how I got a job teaching in South Korea for those who don’t know the process . For those who will quit reading briefly, it boils down to this: a lot of paperwork and FedEx. Boom! There!
For the faithful few, I’ll list the steps as briefly as possible.
- Teaching experience: While studying abroad in Siena, Italy, I taught English at a local elementary school. A lot of people will say that it is not 100% necessary to have this but my recruiter explained that she would not have even considered my resume without it. Act accordingly.
- Bachelor’s degree: Necessary for teaching in Korea and basically for life in 2013 as we know it. The Ohio State University knows what I’m talking about. Get on that learnin’!
- TESL/TEFL certificate: Try and be shady all you want but you need one of these to get a legit visa and I’m not about to be the next star of Locked Up Abroad. I got mine from oxford seminars shout out to Tom! You were an awesome teacher.
- Apply for jobs: Oxford Seminars has a graduate placement service that really came through for me. Basically I said I was interested in Korea and they forwarded my resume/cv to their contacts–one of whom is Madeline Moon from Teacher Tech recruiting.
- Initial interview: Madeline, my recruiter, interviewed me by phone and told me a bit about what I could expect in Korea. Hint: it is important to articulate above all your desire to become a professional teacher and not focus on the fact that it would involve travel.
- Interview with School: This was also a phone interview (although some are by Skype). I found great tips on how to answer interview questions here. My interview lasted about an hour and was very thorough so my advice would be to practice and prepare some answers.
- Accept position: This seems obvious but before accepting a job in Korea or anywhere, you should ASK QUESTIONS! Like those listed here–also, it is better to direct these questions to your recruiter since he/she knows the specifics of the school and the interests of teachers and can better answer your questions.
- Visa paperwork: This could be a post in itself describing my summer of 2013, full of exciting details about legal stuff and FedEx. I guess I’ll save this bundle of joy for another post (it is sure to be a real thriller).
What followed was your regular billion item master to-do list of tasks to complete before international travel (I say this like I’m done, HA!). Anyhow, I’m still working on learning some Korean and checking off the things left on my master list, and on saying my good-byes.