Should you travel after graduation or get a “real” job? Here’s how you can do both!
It’s that time of year again – graduation season!
Chances are that if you’ve clicked on this article, you’ve either just graduated or you’re a soon-to-be graduate. Congrats! You’ve studied hard and gotten that degree under your belt. You’re ready to embark on your new and exciting post-university life.
Or, as it happens, you’re casually F-R-E-A-K-I-N-G out. Not feeling quite so ready? Is the idea of making big life-changing decisions making you break out in a cold sweat? Trust me, I get you on that!
Life right after university can feel pretty scary and feeling some post-grad panic is completely normal. And as yet another well-intentioned family member asks you about your plans for next year (for what feels like the millionth time), it’s only natural to feel pressure to figure things out sooner rather than later.
“Real” long-term employment or diving right into grad school might seem like the only two options available to you right now – but it’s not!
The fact is, that while some students know exactly what is is that they want to do after graduation, many don’t. Maybe the thoughts of working 9 to 5 in an office cubicle for the next few years (or moving back in with your parents) has you building a boat to sail to Bogota. That pretty much summed up how I felt as a new grad, too!
What if there was another option out there? What if it didn’t have to between a boring 9 to 5 job or grad school? The reality is, there’s a sweet spot for traveling – and it happens in your twenties. As a teenager, you were too broke. But when you hit 30, life gets in the way – making it harder and harder to get away. You shouldn’t have to wait until you’re 65 and retired to see the world – so don’t! After graduation is the perfect time to to travel and broaden your horizons. And the best part? You don’t have to go broke doing it.
Wanderlusters, rejoice! There’s a job out there that you actually qualify for right out of university – that will pay you to travel.
This magical unicorn of a job is…drumroll please…teaching abroad!
Teaching abroad ticks so many boxes, especially for new grads. It’s the most popular way to pay off student debt, travel, save money, add to your skills, have some truly unforgettable life experiences and immerse yourself in new cultures.
Are you a native English speaker and have a bachelor’s degree (any major)? Then let’s get down to the good stuff. Here are five reasons why teaching abroad is the best post-grad plan for you:
The teach abroad job market is booming.
The demand for native English speaking teachers around the world is sky high, meaning recent university grads are almost guaranteed a job anywhere that English isn’t the native language – that’s over 100 countries worldwide. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to speak a foreign language to teach abroad. A degree in education or teaching experience isn’t required for most teaching jobs abroad, either. Most schools abroad only ask for a university degree (in any major) and a TEFL certification.
There’s no formal accreditation for TEFL courses, which means that a TEFL certification is only as good as the reputation of its provider. As a new graduate, you’re probably on a bit of a budget, right? In that case, stick with an online TEFL course, ideally one from an internationally recognized university.
One super important thing to watch out for with online TEFL courses – employers generally look for a TEFL course that’s at least 100 hours long, and the savviest of new grads look for a 120-hour cert for the best employment odds. Shorter, bargain-basement TEFL courses are everywhere online – you’ve probably seen a few pop up on deal sites like Groupon. Most employers won’t accept these as valid TEFL qualifications, so save your hard-earned money!
You’ll gain financial independence.
Although teaching abroad is one of the best ways to go abroad after graduation and fund your travels around the world, what really stood out to me about my experience teaching English in Spain was the sense of financial freedom I had outside a cubicle. I went from grad to grown up in hurry – I didn’t have a student loan, line of credit or parents nearby to rely on for the first time in my life.
When I taught abroad in Spain, I was proud to be living on my own, paying for everything myself and saving for travel. I was able to save enough to travel to nine new countries I’d never been to and pay off some of my student debt. Win!
You get paid to travel!
Not only is teaching English abroad a great way to travel the world – it’s also a great way to save up to fund even more travel after your teaching contract ends. Vacation is often paid for teachers abroad – and there’s plenty of it – meaning you can take advantage of affordable flights to the formerly unattainable destinations you’ve been dreaming of all this time! Greek island hopping, anyone?
You can gain international work experience.
Teaching adds some truly marketable skills to your resume – it shows you’re a great communicator, problem solver and public speaker. More than that, teaching abroad shows that you’re adaptable and comfortable with taking initiative and moving outside your comfort zone.
Your international experience can also help spruce up your graduate school application if you choose to go down that route when you get back home. Travel gives you a global outlook and life experience that’s hard to beat. Employers love hearing about travel experiences – trust me on that!
You can learn a new language.
Teaching abroad is a great opportunity for you to learn another language that could even open up a new career path for you in the future. These could be future international employment opportunities or an awesome position back home that involves working with multinational clients.
While learning a new language is no easy feat, it’s almost universally accepted that the only way to do it properly is by immersing yourself in an environment where you’re constantly exposed to a language.
Beyond being able to count to five and say “please” and “thank you’”, I knew zero Spanish before leaving Canada – literally nada. In fact, after years of trying to learn French in the Canadian public school system, I thought I was terrible at learning languages – boy, was I in for a surprise! A year teaching in Spain meant that I was constantly surrounded by the language and it turns out survival is a great motivator. I quickly felt confident communicating in restaurants, the supermarket and while traveling to different cities.
After graduating university, you probably hear more than your fair share of cliches. “The world is your oyster” and “these are the best years of your life”, anyone?
Take it from someone who’s been there – your twenties is the time to travel and see the world. The older you get, the harder it becomes to leave everything behind. The next few years may be the only time that you can travel abroad freely, without a serious career (or life) getting in the way.
Recent grads often think it’s important to get a job right after graduation otherwise you may never get one, or somehow it means you’ve failed, but that’s not true. Jobs will still be at home when you return.
If you want a varied life, getting to experience living in some amazing places around the world, then teaching abroad is most definitely for you. It gives you enough time and freedom to really get familiar with a new place, forge lifelong friendships and have once-in-lifetime experiences you’ll never forget.
Now’s your big chance to see what’s going on in the world – a world you’ve been missing out on while your head was buried deep in all those books. You’ve earned the chance to travel and try something new with your life. Whatever you decide, we wish you the very best of luck with your new life after graduation!
Find out how you can travel the world and get paid to do it by teaching English abroad (regardless of your major!). Join our live info session on April 20th at 2pm EST to find out what you need to qualify for teaching jobs, where you can teach, and why teaching and traveling for a year after university is the best decision for you and your future career!