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How I Found My First International Teaching Job

By Lindsay Manzella
How I Found My First International Teaching Job

Lindsay Manzella shares her story about how she found her first job in an international school.
When I make a decision to do something I like to do my research. I jump on the internet and Google all the articles and blogs I can get my hands on so I can really get a feel for what I’m in for before I take the plunge. (Perhaps you can relate as you’re reading this here blog). When I first started thinking about teaching and applying to Teach For America I read countless blogs so that I knew exactly what to expect from the dreaded summer institute and the first trying year of being a new teacher. Years later when I was ready to take another plunge and enter the world of international teaching it was no different. I scoured the internet for first hand accounts of international school teachers to learn everything from how they went about finding a job to what it would be like to live and work abroad.
Through my research I discovered that there were many options for securing a teaching job overseas including signing on with a recruitment agency, attending a job fair, or contacting schools directly. For me, the best option seemed to be attending a job fair where I would have access to a large number of schools from all over the world in one place. While they all would be interviewing me to see if I was a good fit for their schools, I would be interviewing them to see if they were a good fit for me as well. In the end, if all went well, I would come home from a hectic and intense weekend with a great new job and an amazing adventure ahead of me.
Another important thing I took away from all my research was the need to be FLEXIBLE with where I was willing to go. Most of the information I read suggested that I be open to at least three regions when considering where to go--and by regions they mean continents (and with just six inhabited continents, one of them being North America, well, you do the math). Basically, while I could have preferences, I really had to keep an open mind. Okay, message received. The only thing was this: I REALLY had my heart set on going to Beirut. The previous summer I had traveled to Lebanon and immediately fell in love with the capital. I knew immediately that I wanted to return to Beirut to work so I could really get to know the place. That trip was what really kicked me into gear to actually start teaching internationally as I had been dreaming about for so long. And now here I was at the job fair hearing again that I really had to be flexible and consider going to places that perhaps I’d never even heard of. Just as in the blogs I had read, the fair organizers got up one by one and talked about how an unexpected teaching post turned out to be life changing, or their favorite teaching job of their careers.
I soaked it all in, opened my mind and started thinking about where else in the world I was willing (even excited) to go to. I’d almost gone to Morocco to teach English a few years ago; there was a school in Marrakesh at the fair. I had always wanted to visit Turkey; I signed up for several interviews with Turkish schools. It could be useful to learn Spanish; I signed up for interviews with a few schools in South America. There was an interesting display for Mali in Western Africa that caught my attention; heck, why not? I was starting to get the hang of this open minded thing. And yes, I even landed interviews with both schools from Beirut represented at the fair.
I began the Friday afternoon interviews full of excitement and hope. Beirut was still my first choice but I was starting to get really excited at all of the possibilities. At the end of the weekend I could quite literally be preparing to set off to any corner of the globe. The possibilities were limitless. I had two pretty good interviews right away on Friday. Then I had my first interview with a Beirut school and it went really well. I think I had spent the first half of the interview gushing about how much I loved Beirut and Lebanon before we even got started talking about teaching. By the end of the interview I was invited back for a second interview the next morning. I was on such a high that I breezed through the rest of the interviews that day. I could barely sleep that night. I got up early for an 8 a.m. interview on Saturday with the school in Mali. After that I was scheduled for my second interview with Beirut and then a really promising interview with a great school in Zurich that was starting to look like my second choice.
Mali turned out to not be the right fit for me but I was OK with that realization. It was my wild card school anyway. Then I had my second interview with Beirut which turned out not to be a second interview at all. They offered me the job on the spot. I was so thrilled! Was this really happening? Before I knew it I was learning about benefits, pay, and signing a contract. I cancelled the rest of my interviews for the weekend and called home to tell them the good news: I’d been offered a job at my first choice school!
Somehow I managed to go into the job fair and leave with the exact job I wanted. In my research I’d read about teachers agonizing over which job to take and whether to take a chance on an unexpected country. None of that came into play for me this time but that’s not to say that my next teaching adventure might not take me somewhere I’d never imagined. For now I’m thrilled with the opportunity I’ve been given: two years in Beirut. I can’t imagine being any happier.
Other articles in Lindsay's Story:
>>Heading Into the Unknown
>>Welcome to Your New School
Follow Lindsay and learn more about her story of getting a job in an international school:

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04/26/2013 - Expat Teacher Man
Great stuff.

Check out my thoughts on Expat Teaching here:
11/09/2012 - Nellie
Thank you for this wonderful story on your experience with teaching abroad. The services you've provided are a true inspiration to people considering teaching overseas. I help find opportunities for people to teach in Abu Dhabi with my company

You make a very important point about using the internet to research the things other people have had to say about teaching abroad. There's always going to be factors out there which negatively affect it, but the opportunity is truly life-changing.
10/01/2012 - mdobo
I would like to be international teacher so that I can get more experience