One of the very best things about beginning this blog ten months ago are the friends I’ve made. I have become friends with one woman in particular who is from Texas, like me, and is completing her second year teaching overseas in Taiwan. She found me through this blog and we’ve become confidants and encouragers to one another. She was in my shoes two years ago when she travelled to her first international recruitment fair to simply “check it out”. She was considering the possibility of teaching overseas “someday”. Before the weekend was over, however, she’d been offered a position – and she took it! She remembers what it’s like to be timid and unsure when comparing yourself to others with more international experience, more degrees and certifications and more bells and whistles. Because of her, I have signed up to attend not one, but two international recruitment fairs. In my blog articles titled Should I Stay Or Should I Go, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and Same As It Ever Was, I explained the three most well known and respected fairs: UNI, ISS and SA. With much advise and prayer, I decided to attend UNI, which is being held at the end of this week and Search Associate’s Cambridge Fair, which is being held the following week. I’m excited and scared. Here’s why:
It’s a gamble.
To be realistic, employment-seeking teachers dish out money to buy airline tickets, stay at the large, conference, upscale hotel and rent a car, for an average for 4 days, and sometimes they end up walking away with nothing. Or, they get an offer and have a couple of hours to decide if they want it. It’s tricky because there may be another school that they are hoping invites them to interview, but what if they don’t? Or, they get several offers, but hey, like me, they are planning on attending another recruitment fair the following week that’s already been paid for. Who might extend an invitation to be interviewed there? And then there’s also the possibility that if you can wait it out and be patient, a school often has late spring openings that are not announced until after ALL the fairs have concluded by end of February. Last year I tracked Art positions from March 12 – October 19 and there were an additional 52 jobs posted! Really? And the icing on the cake is that two of those 52 positions were from what I’d consider to be my “dream schools”.
From what I’ve read on International Schools Forum, it is not unusual, at the end of the day, to be at the hotel bar drinking a beer to calm your nerves, with school administrators and employment-seeking teachers and be offered a job there! I’ve read a story about how an offer was made in the elevator! I’ve been keeping up with a few people on twitter who have been at the SA London Fair for the last few days and it’s a well known fact that major networking is done on the “lifts.” And it is not unusual, in fact it is common practice, to be invited up to the hotel rooms of administrators and be interviewed in their room! Doesn’t this sound crazy? But it is common practice. For any of you readers who will be attending one of the upcoming recruitment fairs, here is a super-informative list of the “Top 9 Lessons Learned Regarding International School Hiring Fairs”.
So, my dear readers, wish me luck and send positive vibes my way. People of faith, please include me in your prayers. As Dr. Seuss says, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” I will do my very best to write a re-cap next week of the UNI fair. I may write it from the plane and, therefore, it may be posted late. Good luck to me and good luck to you too!