Melissa Kennedy: The time is right to pursue her overseas dream

Melissa Kennedy knew one day, she’d take her passion as a guidance counselor overseas. Now that Melissa is in a great time of life for living her international dream, she’s accepted a job with BASIS International School in China! Catch up with Melissa and her recruiting success story below:

Hello Melissa! Please introduce yourself and describe why you wanted to teach overseas. What was the compelling call or interesting story behind it?
I have always wanted to travel overseas, and when I found out it was possible to live and work overseas, I thought, what could be better?  I heard about people who taught overseas and loved it, and I knew that I wanted to do that one day when the time was right. I am a 53-year-old guidance counselor in Texas, and now that my children are grown and supporting themselves, the time is finally right for me to pursue my dream of living and working overseas!

What inspired you to sign up with a service like ISS, and how has your experience been?​
​​Eighteen years ago I applied with the Department of Defense to teach overseas, but I never could get even an interview, much less a job.  When I joined ISS in October 2017, my original intention was to just get on the site, see what kinds of jobs were available, and play around for a year or so, because I wanted to wait until the perfect job became available.

Imagine my surprise when a few days later, my first contact came from a recruiter who was interested in me.  While I was not a fit for that job, I interviewed with a couple of other schools over the next two months, and then that very first recruiter contacted me again for a different job…and that’s the job I ended up taking!  I have loved every experience I’ve had with ISS, and if I decide to look again in the future, I absolutely will sign up with ISS at that time.

What excites you most about your new role and/or school? How did you know when you found the right fit?
​​When I first joined ISS, I was not going to take a job anywhere that wasn’t in or near Europe…how shortsighted of me!  My position as a guidance counselor at BASIS is a brand new position for them, so I am going to get to create it as I go. This means I will have lots of flexibility and creativity to make this position a vital one, as well as get to do what a guidance counselor should do: guide and counsel, not schedule and administer tests, serve duty, change schedues, attend 504 and ARD meetings, etc.  I am so excited that our school is a short walk from the beach, that BASIS has fully furnished teacher housing on campus that is completely paid for as well as providing 3 meals a day, and that I will get to live in a new country and learn a new culture all at the same time.  I knew this was the job for me when the school director was interviewing me and I could picture myself at the school working closely with him and the college and career counselor.  He was very easy to talk to and I was comfortable with him, and the prospect of creating a brand new position excited me.  I also like that all of the faculty/staff are in a group chat and are already getting to know each other. Everyone is so helpful to “newbies” like me who have not worked overseas before.  I can hardly wait to get started!

What research did you do before accepting your job?
​​I looked up schools and directors on International Schools Review as well as various other sites, and I talked to my director of guidance and counseling at my current job who put me in touch with others who are or have been overseas.

What advice would you give to educators looking to recruit overseas for the first time?
​​Be open to any and all countries, do your research, and go with your gut; you will know if a position is right for you if you just pay attention to yourself.  Oh, and be prepared for the things you will have to do before you go overseas (like get a work visa, etc) and don’t get overwhelmed – just take it a step at a time.  In the end, you will have the adventure of a lifetime!

Thank you for letting us be part of your recruiting journey, Melissa! We know you’ll love your school community, and that you’ll shape your guidance counselor role into an amazing position. Congratulations again!


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