People = Mostly Cool with the Dead-End
I’ve gotten some flack from the netizens in Korea because of my previous posts where I disparaged teaching in a Korean university as a pretty grim prospect at times due to lack of opportunity for advancement (I call it the best dead-end job ever here-Korean University Jobs: The Golden Handcuffs) and the sometimes really, really terrible students (Korean University Students-I Lied, Kind of. Mine are Not all Fabulous). People seemed to be mostly cool with that, except for those who got stuck in a kind of cognitive dissonance warp-world, with the posts hitting a little too close to home and they didn’t like the bad feelings it gave them.
People = Not Cool with the Book
No, what a few people took exception to was the fact that I also have a book on Amazon telling people how to get a university job in South Korea. The irony is not lost on me. But, my whole life seems to be lived mostly in the gray and there is almost nothing that is black and white to me anymore. Maybe it has something to do with living abroad? Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older. Or, maybe it’s just me. Anyway, this post today is an attempt to explain how it can come to be that I would call what I do a dead-end job but then on the other hand tell people how to get the same job.
Let’s Bring Some Order to the Chaos
Basically, it comes down to this: Korean university jobs are excellent, for some, but not for others. If you can use the ridiculous amount of free time that you have to do something to improve yourself, or your prospects in life, it’s great. Consider it a step along the path to something else.
If you’re the type who uses up your vacation time watching TV, well, perhaps consider other options. Or, if you’re planning on dropping $50,000 on an MA TESOL and making a Korean university your ultimate teaching destination, well, I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.
Here are some examples of what I mean when I talk about using your free time to improve your life:
Plenty of people have used their time in Korean universities to do an MA in something, CELTA/DELTA, or a teacher’s certificate. They’ve then gone back to their home countries and gotten a job in business or public schools. Or, they’ve gone to other countries (the Middle East?) to teach English because you’re actually treated like a professional and there are far more opportunities for advancement.
Starting a Business in Korea
Others have used their time to start up a business of some kind. For a very quick example, I think almost all the expat bar owners here in Busan work at unis during the day, as do plenty of other people in Korea who have stuff going on, on the side. Maybe it’s just the people that I’ve been meeting lately (do all the foreign expat entrepreneur types end up in Busan?) but it seems like there are a ton of people who work at a uni but also have a business, in a field sometimes related in no way whatsoever to education.
Starting an Online Business
Want to start a website or blog of some kind and get famous? Well, you’ll have plenty of time when you work in a Korean university. Seriously. This summer for example, I spent hundreds of hours getting this website up and running. How much time did I spend teaching you might wonder? 0.
Writing a Book
If you’re an author type, a Korean uni job is going to be your golden ticket. All the free time you could possibly have while still getting a “full-time” paycheck. Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, teaching in a Korean university certainly isn’t rocket science and there quite literally is nobody looking over your shoulder to see what you do in the classroom or whether you give homework, etc. so you’ll definitely have enough mental energy left at the end of the day to get some writing done. Now that we’re on the subject of books written during free time when working at a Korean uni….It’s me! on Amazon.
Learning some Serious Skills
I also have met plenty of people over the years who used their time to become great, at something. Editing, scuba diving, photography, computer programming, cooking, beer-brewing. Whatever. Often these skills have translated into a job in another country or when they’ve gone back home.
Focusing on Creative Endeavors
There are a lot of artists and musicians working at Korean universities. Where else could they have so much time and energy to devote to their craft while still making a very decent amount of money? If you’re trying to avoid the starving artist thing, I’d certainly recommend getting a university job in South Korea.
Building a Money Pool
If you want to pay off debt, or save up a massive pool of money to invest, buy a house or start a business with, a Korean university is the place for you! Although my 2 uni jobs have both been above average in terms of money-saving potential, even the lesser ones will allow you to put some serious coin in the bank because of the often quite lucrative overtime opportunities combined with the very low number of teaching hours.
Now, Let’s Talk about Who Shouldn’t Teach in a Korean University
So, now that I’ve gone over who really should consider a Korean uni job, there is a group of people who should avoid it like the plague. Who is this group, you might be wondering to yourself? Real teachers. Here’s what I said about that in a previous post:
“Consider yourself a “real” teacher? You know, experienced, well-qualified, passionate, dedicated? Don’t come to Korea. It’s going to destroy your soul, slowly, semester after semester after semester until you end up like me.”
I have a hard time thinking about a teaching situation that would be less rewarding than teaching freshman English in a Korean university. Or, a place where you essentially get punished for being the best teacher. Or, a place where there quite literally is almost no room for advancement.
Anyway, Korean University Jobs
If you really think that working in a Korean university is for you and you want to get those golden handcuffs on, this book is gonna tell you how to do that, better than anything else out there. It was some sweet, sweet job action for me for a lot of years and I’ve had time to write books, and build websites as well as build a pool of money and learn all about investing. These days, the sweet job action is certainly done but onward and upward to try my luck in the Motherland!