Compromises?

I have now met quite a few of Richard and Katy’s friends, all working in Addis for various international development organisations, from Medecins sans Frontieres to CARE to Oxfam to the Clinton Foundation (!).  All that I have spoken to on this agree on some main points:

  • Education is the specialism to focus on, since it’s where my skills and experience lie;
  • Finding work is going to be hard and may take time;
  • Someone out there will definitely see my CV and decide they could use me.  However, it is a case of keeping the faith and waiting for my break;
  • Getting my name known is important, and making contacts and networking vital.

I’ve been given some contacts working in international organisations that are working on education.  Katy has pointed out some interesting ideas and has given me a good list of contacts.  The next step is to send out an email outlining my skills and asking if there is work.  I drafted and redrafted it this afternoon, and got some good second opinions to help hone it.  I find this kind of networking hard – it takes a lot of faith to believe that it is going to work, and is a major contrast to the very structured career entry routes in teaching.  But everyone I have spoken to says that this is the way to go, and indeed many of them found their jobs that way.  You need patience, time, persistence, and a bit of luck.

The problem is that point 2, time, is not something I have a lot of.  I am due to fly back home on the 25th, and spending the whole month in Addis chasing jobs here would mean I would miss out on an awful lot of Ethiopia, including the historical sites in the Northern highlands.  And the more I read my books, the more I want to go and visit those.  The other thing I did this afternoon was plan out and then reject a series of itineraries for trips North by road.  The shortest time in which I could do all that I want to is about 12 days – too much of the time that’s left.  I can shorten this by flying, and by saving some places for another time.  Tomorrow I am going to speak to some tour operators about what might be possible, but it remains the case that unless I extend my stay (a tricky subject), I am going to have to be very lucky to find work in development organisations AND get in some good travelling.

Lurking in the background, though, is an alluring possibility, though I don’t know if it’s the right one.  Some of the people I have met in the last few days are teachers.  They work in Addis’s numerous international schools.  Several of these may be hiring; in fact, one contact, a history teacher from the UK called Ben (!), said he had been contacted the Sandford School, which follows the British curriculum but has a very international cross-section of pupils, including quite a lot of Ethiopian children on scholarships.  Ben didn’t want the job there, because he is happy where he is, but he is pretty sure that Sandford are looking for a history teacher.  This is another item on my list of things to follow up tomorrow, and I am going to go and join him in looking around his school on Tuesday.  The question is whether this would be right for me.  It would certainly be tempting if I could get a teaching job, regardless of the fact it wasn’t quite what I expected to be doing when I got here: standard terms in this kind of job include a salary, a house, annual flights home paid for, long holidays in which to travel around Ethiopia.  But is the tempting option the right one?  Having walked out of one bubble, would I be climbing right back into another one?

3 thoughts on “Compromises?

  1. Why not go for the teaching job? You can always take it and then in the time you'll have for holidays search around for a job that you'd be more interested in. It might be a great way to get your foot in the door and get settled there while you find something you really want to do.

  2. The job at Sandford has gone. I'm hoping to chase up some others and see if there is anything else around….

  3. difficult choice ben! it could seem like more teaching is a step backwards, or a bit too much like the safe option… then again, i suspect you're an exceptional teacher…

    i think, definitely not one to turn down if the opportunity arises. but keep aiming for development work as the preferred option. and perhaps sacrificing a little tourism in the interests of job-hunting is a worthwhile sacrifice.

    can you continue your job hunt once you return to the uk? do any of the ethiopian charities do skype interviews as the first round?

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