A New Year With New Possibilities
The last few months I’ve spent a lot of time responding back and forth to e-mails. Most came from young travelers interested in teaching in Thailand.
One of the most common questions I’m asked till this day is, “Can I find a job as a black teacher?”. My response, Hell No! ( Joking!)
Want to know the second most common? I’m sure you guessed it already.
“Are Thais racist?”
From there, the questions really come down to…
“What is teaching really like?”
“How far can your Thai salary go?”
“What areas should I seek work?”
I remember how elated I was the first time someone e-mailed me asking for insight on teaching in Thailand. Now it seems like a monthly thing.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s no better feeling than knowing you helped someone. So anytime I can, I will. I always responds to every single e-mail in 1-2 days.
I’ve always advised people to check out Bangkok first. Reason being it has a massive foreign population. Since English is your first language you’ll make a lot more foreign friends before making Thai friends. Although, my best friend from university is Thai. So I guess that’s a bit off.
So For 2017 I thought I answer this question in a blog post (if I hadn’t already).
Can You find a Job as a Black Teacher?
Of course you can! I won’t sugar coat it though. You’re not being hard on yourself thinking you’ll have to try harder. I checked my old e-mail and took glance from when I first applied for jobs back in 2012. I had sent out over 70 e-mails (got about 5 replies, 3 of them flops). All you need is though is one to reply back saying “We’ll hire you” or requesting to set up an interview.
It’s always a touchy subject when someone asks these sort of questions. With all the political correctness going on it’s pretty easy to be given a negative label for speaking your mind.
What can you do to make yourself more attractive to future employers?
Be as qualified as possible if you can. Have a 4 year degree and get a TEFL. SEE TEFL is hands down the #1 TEFL company in Thailand. They’re well known and offer real-life practice teaching. They’ll also help you get your first job too.
If on-site TEFL isn’t your thing or maybe you just don’t have the time then try out MYtefl’s online course. Enter FARANGDA and you’ll get a more than 1/3rd of the price.
You can always checkout BestOnlineTEFL as well. All kinds of TEFL reviews there.
So let me drop some personal insight
In 2017, being seen as racist is as bad as it gets. It shows you lack a sort of emotional and ethical intelligence which just isn’t cool.
Let me add that it’s not just black people who experience racism in Thailand. Although, when the subject comes up, people usually associate racism with someone of darker skin complexion being discriminated against by someone of lighter complexion.
Still, there are instances in finding a job where it’s quite obvious what’s going on, but nothing gets said, it’s merely implied in a professional back-handed gesture/response/action.
There’s this somewhat age-old saying that, “You can’t change Thailand so don’t even try”.
Requesting a photo from applicants makes it 100 times more likely that your looks will play a role into the decision to hire you or not.
I honestly believe if you asked a school why they prefer white teachers they would tell you it’s not them it’s the parents. Then agencies would say something similar… ” It’s not us it’s the school.” The trickle down effect of passing the blame for discrimination is endless.
I mean how superficial can Thai parents really be? Dare I ask? Do Thai parents not care when a teacher is unqualified and doesn’t really give a damn about his/her job? Is white skin the end all? (can’t help but giggle a bit)
“My daughter’s teacher looks like Tom Cruise! I’m so happy for her!” ( it’s a never ending chase of the magical white dragon at times…)
So What About me?
Sheeeeeet. What about me? Personally, I am no exception. I wouldn’t say I have trouble finding work as much as I have trouble wanting to find work. I was fortunate enough to work for 2 agencies that were the epitome of equal opportunity employment. You’ll notice too that the larger a company is the they don’t care about how you look. Just be qualified and coherent.
As nice as it was ESL is a business and that’s how they ran their operation.
Props to them though as I now have about 4 years of teaching experience in Thai government schools, a bunch of certificates (albeit meaningless).
It doesn’t get any easier though. I still have to send applications just like anyone else and play the part. My resume may help me but it doesn’t guarantee anything.
The Power Of a Referral
Nothing is more powerful then a referral. If you have friends who can refer you for a position that’s 10x powerful than looking for a job on your own. That’s why after your first (or second) year teaching you should have a pretty decent network.
It’s pretty easy for a hiring manager to choose you when 2 or 3 of the current employees speak highly of you.
The best jobs in Thailand aren’t advertised. They don’t need to be. The operation is so sweet that they do fine based off referrals alone.
That’s what will eventually happen for you if you stick around long enough.
I’m trying to stop rambling on so I’ll end it now.
Try not to think so much about it and just go for it. Embrace the “No”. Eventually you’ll find a job and once your foot is in the door then you’ll be fine.
If you have any questions or just want to reach out, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I always respond in a day or so.