Going on eight years now here in Budapest, my blog header about being a “semi-nomadic teacher” was starting to lose relevance. BUT, I am happy to announce that that is no longer the case as I have accepted a job in a new school starting in August!
How did we get here? Well…my goal always was to teach and travel around the world, so I really had no plan to stay in one place for so long. I also had no idea that I was going to land at such a great school in such a great city. For the last 8 years, it has been a dream working at a school I love in a city I love. Budapest – and Europe – has really felt like home, and I hadn’t been able to make the leap to seriously thinking about leaving. Early on (maybe year three), I started thinking about doing a so-called “soft search” where I imagined I would browse some vacancies, and if my dream job came up and I was offered the job, I would take it. (“Whoops, guess I’m leaving.”) But each year when fall rolled around and recruiting season started, I would drop that idea immediately because I was just really happy with life where I was at. Towards the end of last year though, I really started to think about moving. I was ready for a change both personally and professionally. In my International Educator Interviews series, I’ve asked a lot of teachers about how they know when it’s time to move on and now it was time for me to really think about that for myself. I guess for me, it was a feeling of having done a lot of what I wanted to do here, friends having moved on, and life becoming pretty routine.
This hiring season turned out to be a lot different for me than what I had previously experienced. Although I enjoyed my two experiences at job fairs in the past, I was hoping this time to be one of the lucky ones to land a great job early in the hiring season so that I wouldn’t have to go to a job fair. In the past, I had been in a position of not needing to give up my current (great) job before the job fair, so I knew this year was going to be extra stressful having to potentially decline my contract renewal not knowing what was coming next.
This year, I started applying to jobs in late September and by mid-December had applied to 16 schools, truly a worldwide search with schools in South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. My hope was for a really great school, location was less important. My very first interview was with an amazing school in Bangkok that was a top choice for me. Being asked to interview so early in the season and with such a great school really gave me a boost of confidence that my resume was looking good enough to be noticed by the kind of school that I wanted to work at. In retrospect, interviewing at one of your top choices right out of the gate isn’t the ideal scenario when you haven’t interviewed in eight years. I definitely didn’t bomb the interview (or even do that badly at all), but I KNOW that I got better as the season went on. I didn’t get called back for a second interview, but it was still really early in the season, so I felt ok about that. And if I am being honest, although this is a top school in my top destination, I was hesitant about the fact that it was quite a way out of the city when I know that I am more of a downtown city girl. There was another top school in the center of Bangkok (NIST), but there was no job opening for my qualifications, so I applied to the other school knowing that I would be thrilled to accept a job at any great school in a city I was keen to live in. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
Fast forward a few months to November. I applied to a lot of schools that I was very interested in, and although I got close, nothing materialized before the contract renewal deadline for my current school at the end of the month. I got a short extension, but in the end, I had to turn in my resignation without having anything lined up. I grappled with the decision during my extension time, but I knew that if I decided to stay in Budapest, I’d just be waiting for next year’s recruiting season to roll along and I might end up in the same position of resigning without an offer in hand. Going through the recruiting process thus far had really solidified my feeling of being ready to move on. I was ready to embrace that unknown period of being without a job and to start preparing for a job fair.
Plot twist. The day before I had to turn in my resignation, a few more schools that I was really interested in posted job openings in my specialty, including the school that I had truly wanted all along – NIST, Bangkok. After submitting my resignation, I quickly got to work on the new applications and continued to have a few more interviews and follow-up interviews from schools I had previously applied to. Then the next week, I got an email from NIST wanting to schedule me right off the bat for two back-to-back interviews on the Wednesday before winter vacation. I prepared like crazy (with the help of a friend who had previously worked at the school) and felt pretty good about how the two interviews went. The next day while on a field trip with my students, I got an email from NIST asking me for contact information for my head of school for a reference check. It felt like this was really going to happen, but still, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Friday morning, I got an official email offering me the job. I immediately went to tell my friend who had helped me prepare (his classroom was down the hall from me) and we did a little celebration jumping up and down in the hall as his students were watching a film in the classroom. I immediately accepted the offer and then floated into winter break 1000 times lighter.
In retrospect, it is interesting to see how two doors (schools I had really been interested in but ultimately didn’t get) had to close to end up where I really wanted to be. It’s also interesting to look back on my last trip to Bangkok for New Year 2018 when I took a walk around the neighborhood where NIST is located and thought to myself, Yeah, I can see myself living here.
Four months left in Budapest now and a little more than five before I land in Bangkok. New adventures await . . .