A Reader Question: How to Get Experience?
I’m interested in teaching English in a Korean Uni. I have an MA (in English Language & Literature) but most job advertisements say that they require an MA + 2 years experience at a college or university. I would like to know more about what that entails, and what the expectations are. I completed my MA in 2012, and my university teaching experience is limited to the 8 months I was a teaching assistant in a college class back home. My goal is to teach at a university this fall, but I would love to know, how does one get those all-important 2 years of experience?
My Answer: Go out to the Paddies!
These days, it seems like job requirements are getting higher and higher due to some government regulation regarding funding levels for certain tiers of teachers. Almost all universities want the magic MA +2 years experience at a university, with a strong preference for experience in Korea.
If you have an MA but don’t have the experience, you’re still a step ahead of many people competing for the entry-level university jobs (low-pay, unpaid camps, out in the countryside, etc.), which is where you’ll have the best chance, especially at crunch time when the semester is starting in a few weeks and they still haven’t filled all their slots with warm bodies. People always back out at the last minute so it really is entirely possible to pick something up at the last minute. It’s like a game of chicken basically.
University Jobs in Korea: All the Details in One Single Place
Also Consider Uni-Gwons
You could also look for “uni-gwon” jobs, which are hybrid university and hagwon jobs. It will be Something like an English cafe, or language institute at a uni campus and usually will involve around 20-25 hours/week with a month or two vacation. For the purposes of your resume, it still counts as “university experience” and of course, it’s certainly better than working at a straight hagwon or even public school in terms of vacation, hours and stress levels.
Bite the Bullet: Suffer for 2 Years
Apply to these less than stellar jobs and stick it out for 2 years, even if it’s not great. Then, you’ll have the magic number on your resume and can move on to bigger and better things in Busan or Seoul and with better working conditions. Your MA in English lit is certainly going to look great to potential employers.
Don’t Give Up
Of course, this MA + 2 years of experience working in a university is the ideal candidate. Plenty of people without this still get jobs working in Korean unis. That person could be you, so send out those resumes even if you don’t entirely meet the requirements. And, network like crazy. Many jobs, especially the last-minute ones get filled by somebody on the inside.
Even more details about university jobs in South Korea: