Should I get an IT job or travel overseas?
February 2, 2012 3:44 PM   Subscribe

I graduated from college a few months ago with an IT degree, but my heart is not in it. I also just got a certification to teach English overseas. Should I work in IT or travel overseas?

I’m 24 and just I graduated a few months back with a BS degree in Information Technology. The thing is, I don’t know if I want to work in it. I I got my degree from an overseas school in New Zealand. I liked the whole international experience and would like to live overseas again.

Due to this, I got a ESL teaching certification after I got back to The States in December. I have also been studying Russian for a while and would love to teach English in Russia as a way to travel and improve my Russian to fluency level. My concern is that if I go overseas and teach for a year or so, I will not be able to get a “proper job” when I get back.
I’m not concerned about not being able to work in IT as I know my skills will be out of date by that point which is fine with me. I’m concerned that I won’t be able to get any type of decent job. I don’t want to be a teacher for the rest of my life and I would like to have a job where I can earn a decent amount of money. Money was the main reason I went into IT to begin with, but my heart is just not in it. However, I don’t want to risk setting myself up to struggle with getting a professional job once I get back to the US. After teaching abroad for a year or two what kind of job prospects will I have?

Keep in mind, if I do get a teaching job, I will be able to get fluent in Russian which will be a skill to add to my resume. However, I don’t think that’s that useful and I don’t want to set myself up a few years down the road to be poor and unable to get a decent job. Any insight?
posted by deeba to Work & Money (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Go. When you do get back and if you want to work in IT odds are that you can jump back in pretty quickly. You can always take a few months to re-train, get a certification of some sort and you'll be fine.

And also, what's a "proper job?" I'm not sure I've had one yet...
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:50 PM on February 2, 2012

go! as you get older there will only be more reasons to not travel, to not do off beat stuff. you're at a perfect point to go and do this. i don't think you're IT degree will be horribly out of date or anything. besides, the job market isn't spectacular right now. hopefully after a few years things will have stabilized a bit in IT.
posted by nadawi at 4:01 PM on February 2, 2012

It sounds like you want to go. You should. IT will still be there when you get back ...
posted by carter at 4:14 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by Sidhedevil at 4:19 PM on February 2, 2012

Go. Maybe you'll luck out and find what you really want in life. Maybe you'll even find out its related to IT.
posted by advicepig at 4:29 PM on February 2, 2012

Data point - I got a degree in a different field, and went to Japan for two years to teach English, thinking "I won't do this forever, but it'll be an adventure." Fifteen years later, I have loads of teaching experience and a great administrative job in education that pays really well and is very secure. You never know until you try it...
posted by smilingtiger at 4:37 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Teach abroad, definitely, but save up a bit of money before you do so. In many cases, these positions don't pay a great deal and you'd definitely want/need the cash to do fun things on your off time.
posted by oxfordcomma at 4:56 PM on February 2, 2012

Why not do both? These days, teaching EFL is not secure or lucrative, while, generally speaking, IT jobs pay better and are less transient.

Your IT background is a powerful card to play. It gives you greater leverage when negotiating a contract, and greater labour mobility should things not work out.

I taught EFL for 10 years, and I know many, many people (usually people in their first 2 years of teaching) who experienced hardship because of a lousy employer, and were left with little money to get back home in a hurry, and no easy way to find a different job in-country.

But if you can maybe work an IT job parttime, and teach parttime (and get your visa as an IT person) then you're in a much better position.

It can be a cruel, hard world out there.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:04 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Listen to your heart and follow it.
posted by july1baby at 5:21 PM on February 2, 2012

Go. In a couple years you could get some catch-up qualifications for your IT skills and also have fluency in Russian on your resume. That sounds like the sort of combination that could open a lot of doors.
posted by K.P. at 5:24 PM on February 2, 2012

You won't regret having traveled when you're older and have more of these things figured out.

For what it's worth, I graduated with a computer-science degree and worked less than a year in the field. I then went on to do the equivalent of an undergraduate degree in the humanities, followed by a master's, and then when the doctoral route looked a lot like poverty, I did an education degree.

And now I'm a teacher and I love my work. Even though I sort of pissed away a number of years (say 22-30) getting "unnecessary" education, I don't have any real, when-we're-being-completely-honest-about-things-type regrets.
posted by iftheaccidentwill at 9:08 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Go, and cross the bridges as you come to them. When you're 99.99 years old and counting your last breaths, what do you want to remember?
posted by Chutzler at 9:59 PM on February 2, 2012

posted by Ms. Moonlight at 12:06 AM on February 3, 2012


If you take a job -- even an IT job that you hate -- it will be hard to leave. A steady paycheque, steady time off, steady job... all of that is wonderful. It becomes very easy to fall into a routine (not criticising; I love my full time job routine) and very hard to leave it. However, overseas teaching has a finite cut-off, usually. At the end of your year contract, you reconsider. New country? Renew the contract? Go home?

You're young. Go overseas.
posted by AmandaA at 7:05 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hmm you like teaching and like IT, why not try to teach computers in say high school or college? After I graduated from my 2 year associates in network admin (went on to get 4 year management of IT degree) the college actually asked me to become a teacher. I declined because i wanted my four year.

If you like IT and teaching maybe you can combine them?
posted by majortom1981 at 7:31 AM on February 3, 2012

Fly away!
posted by oceanjesse at 8:52 AM on February 3, 2012

As an IT professional, it does get really easy to get comfortable with the amount of money you make in the job, and really tough to leave. I wish I would have done what you're thinking of doing when I graduated.

As a secondary data point, and as KokuRyu mentions, being fluent in another language can definitely help a lot with future employment prospects, since many US companies don't have a lot of multilingual professionals, and a lot of companies won't even consider you for an overseas position unless you've already lived overseas.
posted by KGMoney at 9:23 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Someone with solidified language and IT skills is not going to end up poor. Some government or company will snap you up the minute you get back. Go for it, and if it doesn't work out, come back and do something in IT.
posted by cirgue at 9:26 AM on February 3, 2012

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