Three years ago, I finished grad school and got CIEE TEFL Certified. Shortly after, I hopped on a one-way flight to Bangkok, Thailand.
There, I taught Thai children age 10-18, and my certificate proved to be an invaluable resource while I was there. I had never taught young children before moving to Thailand, I had only taught university students. The certification proved to be a life saver for me as I taught abroad — I learned how to lesson plan, engage my students, and prepare discussion activities. I learned the importance of cross-cultural communication, and the importance of empathy in teaching.
Teaching abroad changed my life. I know that’s somewhat of a cliche, but it sincerely did. I gained insights on the world I would have never learned. I experienced foods and cultural aspects I would have never experienced. I met people whom I would have never met if I just stayed in the US and took that job at a large corporation.
I taught abroad for a semester, and my life and experiences and career choices ranged after that. I backpacked Southeast Asia, I moved to Maine to work as a Content Marketer, I moved to Arizona to work as admin for a medical device company, I edited submissions for the FDA, I planned large events for people all over the world, I supported the leaders of my company, I freelanced, I started my book, and I continued my love of travel, to name a few…
Although these all seem random, there was actually a very smooth evolution into all of these choices and career path changes. And somewhere behind all of it: My CIEE TEFL Certification.
My CIEE TEFL Certification and my experiences abroad helped me become the person I am today. I learned how to communicate with people all over the world. I improved my writing and editing skills. I learned how to effectively teach with patience (which also proves to be invaluable in any work scenario, especially if you are training someone new). I learned how to be a leader, and most importantly, I learned resiliency and how to overcome adversity.
When you’re abroad, you have to be both adventurous and resilient. You have to be open to new experiences, but smart about every choice you make. You have to create relationships. You have to go out of your comfort zone. You have to learn how to sleep on the bus. You have to learn how to order your food so the peppers don’t singe your mouth off. You have to be open to change.
And although these may seem like short-term things you have to learn and adapt to as you’re abroad… they stick with you. Even when you return home. Every single thing you do after teaching abroad and getting TEFL certified will be fused with the things you learned abroad.
In today’s world, there’s no substitution for worldly experience. Being able to teach and train either your students or colleagues is invaluable. Being able to communicate with people all over the world is rare to find. Being able to make a small difference in someone’s day? — There is nothing more rewarding. These are all strengths and attributes to put at the top of your resume.
So, if you’re deciding if getting your CIEE TEFL Certification is right for you, or if you should teach English abroad at all — my advice: do it.
Are you worried if this will help or hinder your career? Well, you’ll be making money abroad, making a difference in the lives of your students, and experiencing things you never thought possible. Does that sound like a step-back for your career?
You’ll be able to use that certification and your experiences abroad as invaluable skills in whatever you pursue — whether it’s teaching, or otherwise.
Get CIEE TEFL Certified, and you’ll gain invaluable skills to last a lifetime.