I don’t think I could do a job that I didn’t like; not long term anyway. I know some people have to spend their days doing work they hate and I feel sorry for them if they really don’t have any choice. There are others who are able to separate their work lives and don’t mind how bad it is so long as they make enough money to do other things in their free time.
For me it is important that what I spend the main part of my day doing should be satisfying, interesting and enjoyable. Money is not very important to me as long as I have enough to get by on. I studied at university to be a teacher and I have always enjoyed travel, so the job I have now is a gift.
So what exactly do I do? I work for a company based in The UK which offers specially tailored English courses for school children in Europe. Most of the courses involve intensive one week projects taught by native English teachers. These courses are designed to compliment what the students are already learning or to prepare them for various English examinations. I actually have two jobs within the company. Firstly I am a teacher supervisor. That means I am the senior teacher in a group of between four and twelve teachers who are sent out to teach in particular areas. I have to teach our courses and also help and supervise the other teachers in the group. Secondly I work for the promotions department, visiting new schools, doing demonstration lessons and wining and dining with local teachers and agents to try and get new contracts. I enjoy both aspects of the job and generally my boss seems to think well of me. Unofficially I am the link between the teachers and the management/administration side of our company and I will probably do more on the management side soon.
I can honestly say I get a buzz from all aspects of the work I do.
Firstly there is the travel. Our company operates all over Europe but most of my contracts are in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Eastern Europe; with occasional forays into Italy. I work in all the big cities and in some tiny villages. The travel can be tiring but I do see and experience some spectacular places. In the last few weeks for example I was working in some small tourist towns in the Alps. These were mostly places which spring to life in the ski season and are quieter now, but the scenery is still breathtaking. There is something majestic about being surrounded by mountains and watching clouds form and evaporate half way up their slopes. Mountains never look the same from one moment to the next. Their colours are always changing and if you tilt your head just slightly you see new forms and shapes that didn’t seem to be there before. There is something very invigorating about mountain air as well! While I fly a lot in my job, most of the travel once I’m in Europe is by train which is often the best way to take in the scenery.
I also really love teaching itself. I do think teaching is a vocation and for those of us who have it there are few things more rewarding than being with young people and helping them to learn. I am actually quite strict and “old-school” in my approach but I think the kids realise that I genuinely like them (most of the time!) and I am a big child myself in many ways, so I usually have a good relationship with them. In fact I usually get on best with the most troublesome teenagers. I like seeing their potential and imagining what they are gong to be like when they are adults. Also I think they are naturally funny and I just feel lifted being around them.
I really like the people I work with too. TEFL Teachers (Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) are a strange breed. We are by nature gypsies and vagabonds. We tend to be a bit eccentric. We like travel and teaching but don’t really like being tied to a routine. Some just do this job for a few years of their life, while for others it becomes a profession in itself. We have more than our fair share of misfits and alcoholics, but we also have more than our fair share of amazing characters; all of whom have a book or two in them somewhere. For me it is a privilege to work with such people and go drinking with them at the weekends. And f I can help them a bit along the way that is great too.
I was less enthusiastic about the sales and promotion part of my job at first. In the classroom I feel I am in my natural element and can just be myself, but in promotions I have to power-dress and put on a bit of an act. However I have become much more confident in this part of the job. I have got to quite like the power-dressing element, it is like putting on a mask. But I have found that it is after the official business is concluded, and I get taken out for lunch or dinner that I am at my best. There I can be myself a bit more and as long as I drink a bit less than my hosts, I can usually charm them into trying our company out.
So in my work life I am lucky. If I had been asked to invent my ideal job it wouldn’t be much different from what I am actually doing.