The (Job) Hunt is On

Well, we already sent our application to seven schools, but we’re not waiting idly. We’re also checking the website for announcements of vacancies. Every time I see one for Music or Computer I would look up the position description, compensation package, school website, reviews about the school, reviews about the city, and maybe a couple of travel sites. These days remind me of the time when I was a grad school student preparing for recruitment fairs. On top of the assignments I have to complete for my two online courses I am also surfing the web for information about other international schools, cities and countries. Things are starting to get warm even as Islamabad is cooling down for the pleasant Fall weather. Two weeks ago the ads for openings for the next school year were so limited, I started to feel depressed. This week the number tripled, and we continue to receive e-mail notices from TIEOnline, a website where international schools post ads and teachers post their resumes.

We’re not the only ones. Many of our friends here and in other countries are doing the same. Sometimes it’s nice to share information and find out where everybody else wants to go, although my husband likes to remind me that job hunting is competitive so we may not want to give away too much. But really I have trouble keeping things to myself, surprise.

At the first two job fairs I attended in Iowa almost 10 years ago I hung out with teachers who have no or little experience teaching overseas. Back then we would tell each other “I want to live in this country” more often than we’d say “I want to work at this school.”

But we quickly learned as a teaching couple during the first Bangkok recruitment fair in 2005 that our number one criteria should be “which school has openings for both of us.” Before we registered for that job fair we had a shortlist of schools we were interested in, all in Southeast Asia and China. But none had vacancies for both of us. Instead we interviewed with schools in African, Middle East, and Pakistan — where we found the best fit.

We never regretted our decision to live in Islamabad, notwithstanding all the alarming news that Pakistan regularly generates. In fact we learned that things can often be deceiving, and it’s best to communicate with teachers and people who have actually worked or lived here, instead of just relying on travel sites, CNN, or the CIA World Factbook.

So where are we off to next? We don’t know. There are a couple of schools we’re interested in, but we’re not telling a lot of people — only those who can give us honest advice about the school, city, or country in that order.

I can tell you that our criteria and priorities have changed since we had a baby. Number one, we both want to teach full-time (and if God answers my prayers, I’ll be teaching Social Studies for the first time) at an international school with 700 or more students. We want to continue achieving professional growth while enjoying ample personal time for family. Second, we want to save as much as we did here in Islamabad, while maintaining a comfortable lifestyle which includes a competent nanny as well as access to good medical care for our precious toddler. This probably means no European or small, remote developing countries. Lastly, it should be in a city and country that we can call home for the next five years or more. So as you can see, we’re not simply job hunting to get out of Pakistan. We are seeking professional growth and a good environment to raise our baby.

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