Over the past few years, more and more recent graduates have decided to forgo grad school or an entry-level job in favor of teaching abroad. Teaching abroad after graduation is one of the best things you could ever do for yourself and your career; no matter where you teach, the skills you gain and the experiences you have will be invaluable.
If you're at all thinking about teaching abroad, taking a job after graduation is the absolute perfect time. Teaching abroad is genuinely an incredible opportunity for recent college grads, and can lead you towards a totally unexpected career or opportunity in the future.
Personally, I decided to take the leap and teach abroad in China after graduation. What I thought would be a one-year adventure turned into a five-year career that eventually lead to me starting my own business! You never know where teaching abroad will take you, and now is the perfect time.
Here's why teaching abroad after graduation is such an incredible opportunity!
1. You'll Never Find a Better Time to Go
For me, I knew teaching after graduation was the perfect time. With no job, boyfriend, or "stuff" holding me back, I knew it was pretty much now-or-never. My absolute worst fear was finding my dream job straight out of college and never leaving the U.S.
Just think about it: after graduation, everyone moves on to a new job, a new town, or a new apartment. It's a big time for change, which will make it much easier for you to hit the road. Trust me, it's really hard to leave behind a cozy apartment, a great job, or a solid group of friends when you're the only one who is actually leaving.
Teaching abroad after graduation is the perfect time. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to tear yourself away from the nest. Imaging trying to move abroad with a mortgage, a child, or an apartment full of stuff. It's definitely possible, but it's not as easy.
2. You'll Avoid the Job Pressure
While finding your dream job teaching abroad isn't exactly stress-free, it's definitely a lot easier than most of the quarter-life-crisis many recent grads have while trying to find their "dream job" straight out of college.
Many of my friends had panic attacks about deciding what career track they wanted to go down right after college. Finding a good job was difficult, and many of my friends had to move home for a few months (or years!).
By teaching abroad, I had a secure job around the time of graduation. I didn't feel the pressure many of my friends felt, and I could comfortably tell everyone at my graduation party that I had scored a job teaching in China. It was also the perfect way to avoid all of those awkward questions about what I would "do" with my international affairs degree.
3. You'll Support Yourself Right After Graduation
One of the best, most fulfilling things about teaching abroad was that I was immediately able to support myself right after graduation. Come September I was covering my own apartment, insurance, phone plan, and spending.
Many schools, especially in Asia, will fly you over for free and cover your insurance and housing. I have to admit that I felt pretty good supporting myself, especially when many of my friends were still living at home or asking for help to get themselves started.
4. You'll Learn Another Language
Teaching abroad is the perfect time to pick up another language, be it Spanish, Arabic, or Chinese. Use some of your salary to sign up for a language class and use your skills through your everyday interactions. Ask local teachers at your school to practice with you, and you'll be an expert in no time!
Learning a language is great for personal development, and it's also highly respected in the workplace. Through speaking the language, you'll receive a unique window into another culture that a non-language speaker will never experience.
5. You'll Gain Valuable Workplace Skills
You won't believe how many valuable skills you'll learn while teaching abroad. After a year of teaching in China, I had more than one person casually offer me a job working with their Chinese clients. While I'd already decided on heading to graduate school, it was incredible to learn how much my Chinese language and culture skills were valued back home.
Many companies are desperate to find people with cross-cultural communication experience. You may not think that employers notice that you've lived abroad, but many companies take your time overseas very seriously.
6. You'll Seize the Opportunity to Travel
If you've ever wanted to travel, teaching abroad is the perfect way to create a life which makes that possible. Firstly, I believe living abroad is the ultimate form of slow travel. Immerse yourself in the culture, try new foods, explore temples, markets, historic sights, and natural wonders. Living in China, every day was a new experience and adventure.
However, if you want to explore outside of your teach abroad destination, you'll have plenty of opportunities to travel. Many positions have national holidays or vacation days you can take advantage of. While living in China, I used my teach abroad savings to travel all over the country and visit places like South Korea, Vietnam, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, and more!
7. You'll Become a Better Person
While I don't think you need to live abroad or have international experience to be a good person, I do think that teaching abroad can make you a better person if you're open to growth and change.
Teaching in China made me more confident and self-reliant. I used to have problems with patience and anxiety, and after a year in China I (mostly) learned to manage them all on my own. Before I moved to China, I used to pride myself on being tolerant and open-minded, but when I arrived I realized I still had a lot to learn.
I have a friend who was working a dead-end job and was depressed, living at home and made the leap to move to South Korea. He still says to this day that teaching abroad saved his life.
If you're open to the challenges of teaching abroad, the lessons you learn can really make you a better, stronger, kinder, more tolerant person.
Overall, teaching abroad after graduation is an incredible experience for recent college grads. If you've always wanted to have an international adventure, NOW is the perfect time. Give yourself a year to grow as a person, immerse yourself in another culture, and come back stronger and more ready to enter the work environment.
Who knows? Maybe it will be the best decision you've ever made.
This post was originally published in August 2015 and updated in March 2018.