Interview With A Former EFL Teacher/Current Attorney At Law, Part 2
Does Chester think that his hiatus from the academic and US work environment had an ill effect on his education or career prospects?
The teaching itself has been mostly irrelevant, he reports, in part because it often just doesn’t come up (or if it does it is in the context of international experience and not teaching per se), but also because although teaching brought him to Japan, it ended up being secondary. Within three months of arrival, he got a job as an editor at an English newspaper. He still taught, but only on the side, so when people ask what he did, he tells them he worked for a newspaper and taught on the side. (“But in reality, the newspaper pay was pretty lean. It was those fat private teaching gigs that gave me beer money”.)
What advice would he give to people thinking about teaching for a year before continuing with further studies or pursuing a totally different career?
“First off, if you do it straight out of undergrad, I don’t think you’ll be setting your career back much, if at all. Sure, everyone’s situation is different, but for most of us, there’s no better time to do something like this than when you’re young and have fewer connections and obligations.
If you’re older, I don’t have as much advice, because I’ve never really left a career to go teach English. My pessimistic side says that if I left for more than two or three years, my career as a lawyer would essentially be over. My optimistic side just thinks of the quote by Sydney Harris: “Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” “
Finally, it seems that Chester’s real world experience gave him an advantage in law school, perhaps best qualified as perspective and confidence. He noticed that he seemed to have more of an ability to deal with setbacks and to realize that even if things didn’t go as planned and he “flunked out and didn’t become a lawyer”, he had great alternatives.
“And I think the process of going to live abroad – setting yourself up, and dealing with all the little frustrations of living as a foreigner – can be a kind of psychological boost. You know … the whole “if I could do that, I can do anything” mentality.”