The Long-Term TEFL Plan

What should I be thinking about if I’m planning to go abroad for a long time?

If you are contemplating a life away from your home country, there are a few topics I recommend mulling over before you go.

The first thing I urge you to seriously think about is networking. Not just networking with your new job either, but back home.

Next, I’d recommend taking some time to consider how you can continue your education or improve your credentials.

After that, make a list (mental or on paper) of the other things you would think about if you were NOT going overseas.

Let’s look at the first two of these a little more in-depth.

Your Safety Net Abroad

With the constant barrage of social media, it might be easy to forget that, yes, networking serves a purpose other than to let your friends from grade-school know what you had for breakfast. In fact, networking is the age-old way of lining up great new jobs and accumulating favors that may later be useful to you and them. Contacts and networking are an important part of your job-hunting toolbox overseas.

Any time a colleague moves on to a new job, make sure you maintain their contact information. You might meet up again and when you do you may be able to help each other.

Your Web of Friends At Home

Just because you’re now focusing on your new overseas career, doesn’t mean that you can throw in the towel with your ex-co-workers and pals in the motherland. Keep in touch with them, because one day you may want to head back to your hometown. Don’t forget to invite them to visit you in your new life, and, when they do, play the host with panache! Help them have the vacation of a lifetime!

Don’t Be A Stranger When you Go Home

On the times that you do go home for a visit, make sure to reconnect with your old office mates, supervisors and buddies. Take the time out to have a nice visit and keep those contacts fresh.

In my experience, finding work “back home” is more difficult than it is overseas and if you have a ready string of personal contacts to tap when you go back, you’ll be less stressed.

Continue Investing In Your Education

Another tip that I think is crucial to long-term success overseas is continuing education. Take all the opportunities you can to take training courses, attend symposiums or conferences, or even pursue a higher degree—perhaps through on-line learning.

I’ve seen many jobs overseas that require a fraction of the time commitment most Westerners are used to giving to their careers. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in a position with three days off per week or extra-long vacations, then use that extra time to boost your job credentials. Later, this may mean better salaries, better benefits, increased respect in the workplace, and (best of all?) maybe even more free time!

TED’s Tips™ #1: Out of sight should not be out of mind! Even though you aren’t in your home country anymore, you should continue to tend to your back-home relationships with friends and colleagues. Pay even more attention to this now than you did before you went abroad.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Don’t let important contacts abroad slip through your fingers! If you wish to be overseas for the long run, then networking will be critical to your success in finding well-paying jobs. That doesn’t mean you can just take-take-take, though. Networking is a two way street, and helping a friend in need is always good karma.

Teaching Internships in China