I think we mentioned that we had resigned our jobs and were looking for new ones to start in the summer of 2023. The international school job cycle usually starts in around September/October of the year before you want to start a new job. This is when you are asked by the school if you are intending to sign on for another year. In our case we had already informed the school back in July but jobs don’t really start appearing until mid-September so we couldn’t really do anything until then. The whole process is a bit stressful as you usually have to resign before you get another job.
Some schools provide incentives if you indicate that you might be leaving so that they can get ahead of the candidates. It all ends up being a bit of a chicken and egg game where people try to hold out for as long as they can to see if they can get a job before they have to resign meaning that their jobs aren’t necessarily on the market until they do.
Lindsey’s last school in London just happens to have one of the latest times you can resign so we had our jobs in Myanmar long before Lindsey had to give her notice – not so this time. In fact, a librarian had reached out to the head of our school asking for a reference before the job had even been posted and before we knew it was hired. My job was also filled pretty quickly by an internal candidate so we were officially out on our ears quite early in the process.
Although we hoped that we would get two jobs like last time we had planned on the seemingly more likely scenario that we would start with one job (probably Lindsey’s) and then see if I could get something along the way. Both our jobs are quite specialist although Lindsey has a lot more versatility so getting two jobs we thought would be a long shot.
Lindsey, who likes to plan a year ahead, did not enjoy the uncertainty of not knowing where we were going to end up. I was more relaxed feeling sure that Lindsey would pick something up fairly easily. There were mixed feelings as the range of possibilities were so large. We were committed to getting jobs in Africa but Africa is a pretty big place so that leaves a lot of countries we may have ended up in. Then there’s what jobs we might actually get. Lindsey’s skill set meant she could apply for a wide range of jobs so that leant another dimension to the uncertainty. Added to that was the possibility that we might only get one job. Financially, we could survive that scenario but it would have been far from ideal.
We wanted ideally be in East or Southern Africa although not South Africa. Top of the list was Kenya and we had already made contact there as our head of school knew the head of school there. After that were countries like Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique. It seems that the post Covid job market in our world is not very buoyant probably as people watched quite a few job horror stories from colleagues and were nervous about leaving. Although jobs definitely starting appearing from late September, they weren’t exactly ideal.
We have certain priorities like the country, the job(s) and the living situation but it’s unlikely you are going to hit all your priorities in one place. Lindsey got an early interview for a job in one of out top countries tries for instance but the job itself wasn’t ideal, the housing seemed to be school housing where everyone lives in the same apartment building (ew – as Lindsey would say) and there it seemed unlikely there would be a job for me. Added to that is the difficulty schools face with dealing with candidates. Hiring new people is a small part of most people’s jobs and can sometimes get deprioritised. This means that you might get a load of interest over a job and have a really good interview only to then wait weeks for the next step. All very frustrating.
During this time, Lindsey saw an ideal job in Ghana which is in West Africa. Although this wasn’t a part of Africa we had considered before, the school had the added bonus of Lindsey having worked with the middle school principal in London so we had an ‘in’. At the end of her interview, her former colleague threw in a line about there being a possibility of a job for me too!
To cut this rather long story short, we both ended up getting offers for jobs in Ghana and have accepted them. Lindsey will be the High School / Middle School Librarian and I will be the Head of Communications & Digital Marketing. Like Myanmar we would have been hard pressed to accurately identify Ghana on a map prior to getting jobs there but we are now catching up on our knowledge. It doesn’t have anything like the wildlife that can be found in Eastern or Southern Africa but has excellent air links to most of those places. Better still there are direct flights to London which is only six hours away and direct flights to at least two places in America. After South Africa, Ghana is apparently the most industrialised country in Africa with a very cosmopolitan capital in Accra which is on the coast. Dogs are weirdly very popular there and many staff have dogs so that bodes well for Nell. All being said and done we are very excited about our new jobs and are looking forward to the move which is only 6 months away!
Congratulations to you both on landing terrific jobs in such an exciting new location! Yesterday I was hungrily scrolling through the New York Times list of top places to visit in 2023 and noticed that Accra was #9: “Feast first, dance later, in a hub of innovative West African cuisine.”
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I’ve been to Ghana, but it was almost 30 years ago so I’m sure things have changed. I can’t wait to hear your reports of what it’s like now, and see where else you travel in Africa!
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