How to make your overseas experience work at home
Q: “I have been working as a primary school teacher in London for six years. I’ve worked in some challenging schools, to say the least – in almost every class, I had children from backgrounds where drug and alcohol misuse was rampant. Behaviour was a constant issue in those schools. I have got on quite well. I’ve also done some courses on school leadership. Now I want to move back to my home place in rural Ireland. I’m afraid that what I have done in London won’t really be relevant to rural or small town schools in Ireland, and that I should tone down my CV. Any advice?” (CT, email).
A: We got three of our career coaches to consider your question, CT, in the hope that their views might help you as you prepare for the next phase in your career. Here is what they had to say:
Pearse O’Donnell, Bandon: My advice would be not to dwell on the negatives but to accentuate the positives of your professional competencies as a teacher with some international / broader experiences and perspectives. It is important that you do this as subtly as possible, lest you be seen as coming across as believing you are superior.
Mention the challenging situations that you had to overcome and emphasise the role that you played to deliver successful outcomes. Identify procedures and improvements that you have witnessed in London that could be used in an Irish setting for the benefit of the students and the school management system.
Bring things back to basics by pinpointing the similarities in both educational sectors. The mutual goals are to help young people gain a better education and to create a classroom and school environment where students can express themselves safely and securely.
Tailor your CV in such a way that highlights how your involvement in the UK educational sector has developed you as a teacher who can meet the demands in rural Ireland.
Mary O’Brien-Killeen, Claremorris: What you did there can transfer here, but you just need to make that clear in your CV and / or application forms.
Use phrases like:
“I have extensive experience of working with pupils with behavioural issues, including encouraging them to interact with fellow students during breaks and lunchtime.”
“My leadership skills have been well developed through my education and I have put some of the key learnings from my courses into practice during each school day.”
Rural / small town schools in Ireland have changed a lot in the past six years – what you learned in London will enhance the education that can be delivered in these schools.
Liam Horan, Ballinrobe: Every job application is about matching skills and experience to the needs of the employer.
Look through your experience in London and see what aspects of your experience transfer to the school you’re targeting in Ireland today – there may be other items in your experience, such as leading the choir or training the football team, that will be very relevant here.
Give prominence to what matches or transfers best.
There’s more to your London experience than challenging behaviour. Make sure to bring that home too.