T Nation

Need Some Education/Career Advice


Some background:

24 years old, dropped out of college at 22 because of some circumstances. Worked between then and now in two different jobs. Nothing special was a personal trainer for one year then an office worker for a year. Relocated states and now am seriously thinking about what I want to do/path to take. Currently self-employed through some part time work.

My plan:

I really want to experience living in another country (specifically France or some other part of Europe). Easiest way for me to accomplish this is through obtaining a degree and teaching English abroad. I have a bunch of courses in liberal arts and I do enjoy English a lot. Majoring in English would allow me to finish in about 2-3 semesters.

However, even though I'd be able to travel and work I have no idea what I would do with that once back in the states after a year or two. Would it be smarter to major in something more useful that would allow me to find work easier after I come back? (Teaching abroad does not require any particular degree, just that you have one).

Just want some advice/evaluation on this plan.


Well, you might find that you like teaching. If you want to do this when you get back stateside, you'll need a degree and a teaching credential (that's how it is Cal. anyways. Not sure about the rest of the country, although I assume you'll need a degree and some sort of credential). It depends on what grade/age level you'd want to teach, along with what subject(s).

If you want to teach English in high school or junior high, I believe you need a degree in that subject, along with a single-subject teaching credential. If you want to teach a different subject, I'm not really sure what you can do with an English degree, but you'll probably have to take some minimum amount of units in that particular subject. You might not have to actually get another degree, in say, math if you want to teach that. I could be wrong though.

So if you want to teach, you won't be too far away once you get back, especially considering you'll already have some experience under your belt.

If you don't want to teach, to be honest, I have no fucking clue what you could do with an English degree. There's always some thread on here about someone who has a degree, or is about to get a degree or whatever, and they are absolutely petrified to the point of paralysis about the possibility that they might not be able to get a job in their field when they graduate or by the possibility that they'll graduate and then realize they have no fucking clue what they want to do in life.

In all honesty, this mindset isn't uncommon at all for people in your position. Keep in mind that you don't have to have some sort of master plan ready to enact once they hand you that piece of paper on graduation day. I hate to say something as meaningless as "you'll figure it out", but........you'll figure it out. Or maybe you won't. Who knows? The point is that at 24 y/o you don't have to have everything figured out and have your life mapped out for you. Uncertainty should be embraced because it represents the unknown, adventure, change, etc etc. With a degree firmly in hand, you'll have much more options at your disposal, so I'd say the most important thing is to get the degree first and worry about what you'll do with it once you have it. As you start going back to school you'll probably start to figure things out more anyways. Attend job fairs at school, talk to some of your professors, talk to your fellow classmates about what they'll do with their English degree (assuming this is the degree you go back to earn).

Just don't turn into one of these whiny motherfuckers totally disconnected from reality who's ready to commit suicide over a lack of good job prospects once you graduate. Stick with it and keep in mind that whatever disillusionment you experience with the job market or your future is easier to come to terms with when you have a college degree.


Do you speak French? If not, I think you've very few prospects of getting a visa. This is just from people I know who have gone to work or school there, but things could have changed. Also, obtaining a teaching job in Europe is difficult because of the visa issue. Essentially, you'll be competing against the Brits who already have a visa. Eastern Europe might be your best bet.


My wife has an English degree and teaching cert. After a few attempts for a number of years at teaching, she moved into sales and customer service.

Her ability to choose words and communicate clearly with people is phenomenal. That is a very valuable skill no matter where you go. Monetizing it is a bit tricky, but if you are creative, you will figure something out.

(for more on this see AC. The dude is one bad mofo when it comes to turning words into money.)


Yeah it's not easy but not nearly as hard as you mention. With a certificate (which I will have) it is easier and on top of that I am not picky about the country. Most people who went over to teach overseas in Europe found jobs pretty easily (the fact that through the program the job is already set up for you while you are here made it much easier for them).


If you have all/most of your G.E requirements attend a Community College CTI program (there are quite a few around the country) to become an ATC, you should be able to finish in 2-3 semseters. Great pay and you can work in another country.


That's cool. Sounds like you're doing your homework. But I'm not sure I understand, how did they first "go over" and then find jobs? Did they go over on a tourist visa? I just mentioned France b/c you did.

Sounds like you are talking directly to people who have done it, and that's the best way to do it. Best of luck.


Education/Career advice: Stick it in her pooper.

I vote for getting your teaching degree and going abroad. It will still be useful when you get back. Also the life experience you have while away might take you in a totally different direction. You have nothing to lose by going away but MIGHT have something to lose by not going.

/ two cents


Five why did your previous jobs have such short-terms? Didn't you enjoy them or what?




Personal training was fun (especially running a strongman competition and class) but the hours were too erratic and the pay wasn't what I needed at the time (me and the gf moved to a more expensive part of town) so I stopped doing that full time and took an office job. The office job was great as well but after a year of working there the gf called it quits. I was only hanging around that state for her so I quit the job and moved down south (family).


Teach exercise science or something pertinent.


Advice: RUN to China to teach English, STAY for as long as you can. Get the hell out of the USA while there's still time.


You'll probably want a PhD for this. Most colleges are only hiring that level and if you see someone that only has a MS then they usually got hired on as a package deal to get their spouse. As well, in the current (and I might guess future) economic climate those with less than a doctorate are getting put on 3/4 pay, losing benefits, or just let go. You might be able to get hired on with a MS if you have some other skills like are an athletic trainer or dietitian. It is one of the most rapidly growing majors at many schools and has been for years but as an extension of that there are also a lot more PhDs entering the workforce every year so the competition is becoming more difficult.

I got my BS and MS in Ex Sci and then switched to biomed for my PhD so that I can keep doors open to Bio and Chem depts as well as Health and Ex sci. But a lot of that freedom depends on the type of research you get into. My gf has her MS in Ex Sci and has taught at the university level for the past two years, the only reason she kept her job this year during this round of budget cuts (instead of people that had been there longer) was because she published 6 articles this past year and participated in many community outreach programs and no one else had anything that could compare to that. Asking around to friends and profs at other schools it's often the same story. So one thing to consider is that it looks like without a doctorate you'll need some sort of extracurriculars on your CV (and even with one, too), it may not need to be scholastic but something outside of the class to set you apart and make you indispensable to the dept if money gets tight.

Not so say it's all bad, though. It's one of the best majors there is IMHO.