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Old 04-24-2011, 02:32 PM
 
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I just got accepted as a transfer student to Cornell University as a development sociology major. My goal after graduation is to work in either southeast Asia or Bhutan. I'm guessing that development sociology isn't exactly a valued major in that part of the world.

Most people would recommend engineering as a career option, but that just isn't me. I could possibly switch my major to international agriculture and rural development, but that would likely preclude me from getting a minor. Would that be a valued major? Another option would be to keep my current major and pick up a minor in either international trade and development or applied economics. Would that be a good idea?

At this point I haven't really decided if I want to work for an american business oversees or try to find employment with a local company over there. Any advice you guys have on potential educational or career paths would be appreciated.

Btw, I am white, male, was born in America, and as of now do not speak a foreign language (I might start Thai or Khmer next semester though).
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Old 04-24-2011, 02:54 PM
 
Location: Eindhoven, Netherlands
10,508 posts, read 14,287,415 times
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Singapore!
English is a official language there, it's clean, it's save but also expensive.

10 euro for a pack of ciggarettes (20).
5 euro for a beer.

If you don't know the place very well it can be very boring nighttime.
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Old 04-24-2011, 06:22 PM
 
Location: City of Angels
2,933 posts, read 5,219,306 times
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a white male who wants to work in SE asia? get in the back of the line buddy. theres millions just like you. the most saturated market for expat workers in the world.

it doesn't matter what you major in. it's all networking. your best bet is to just show up, live cheap for a few months, hang out in expat places and try to meet ppl. prolly the best route if you want to land a decent paying job.

development socialogy might be useful for some crappy NGO work in cambo or something
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Old 04-25-2011, 02:26 AM
 
3,543 posts, read 4,632,296 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hinher View Post
I just got accepted as a transfer student to Cornell University as a development sociology major. My goal after graduation is to work in either southeast Asia or Bhutan. I'm guessing that development sociology isn't exactly a valued major in that part of the world.

Most people would recommend engineering as a career option, but that just isn't me. I could possibly switch my major to international agriculture and rural development, but that would likely preclude me from getting a minor. Would that be a valued major? Another option would be to keep my current major and pick up a minor in either international trade and development or applied economics. Would that be a good idea?

At this point I haven't really decided if I want to work for an american business oversees or try to find employment with a local company over there. Any advice you guys have on potential educational or career paths would be appreciated.

Btw, I am white, male, was born in America, and as of now do not speak a foreign language (I might start Thai or Khmer next semester though).
OP, I have been living and working in SE Asia for 16 years. Here is what I can tell you.

As stated, there are many who would like to relocate to SE Asia to live and work. If you plan on working for someone else, you need to distinguish yourself from the crowd of foreigners wanting to move here, and the crowd of locals also looking for work.

Thus, you need something that makes you fairly unique.

English teaching is one popular niche for expat work since native speakers are desired. Take a look at the online forums that specialise in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), second language (TESL), or to speakers of other languages (TESOL). There are sub-categories also, such as Teaching Business English, IELTS/TOEFL exam preparation, and etc.

Move over here once you have figured out a game plan. As stated, one can find work if you are on-site. Very few jobs are filled by candidates who are called from overseas.

Big multi-national companies do post employees overseas, but these are plum positions and go to those well-connected in those companies and have been with the company for a long time.

Learn another language or two. I learned Mandarin for the year that I spent in China, and now have a good grasp of Malay, in which I teach. Many Asians are obtaining sufficient fluency in English to compete with the few Americans who learn an Asian language.

On a personal level, I would skip the NGOs and volunteer positions. Once people figure out that you will work for free, or near-free, they will not value you very much and you will end up working for free....and then going back because you can't afford to do that forever.

And, yes; engineering is still one of the best choices. I didn't find calculus that difficult once I figured out that I had to study. The reward of getting into engineering is worth the effort.

If you can't hack engineering or some other applied science, take a look at starting a business which you can take with you. Many Asian kids study in the west, and then bring franchise ideas to their home country. Daddy helps them get the financing together and then they approach the western company to obtain the SE Asian franchise, or else start a copy of that business. For example, some Malaysian studying in the USA brought the idea for the 1901 Hot Dog franchise business.

Finally, don't spend any more time in academia as you need to get a decent degree and then got out of there. Too many university campuses are hot-beds of Socialism/Marxism with lazy professors expecting the world to give them a wage while they sit on their back-sides and complain about multi-national corporations. If you want to get ahead in life, get away from those dead-beat dinosaurs.

Last edited by Teak; 04-25-2011 at 02:35 AM..
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Old 04-25-2011, 02:33 AM
 
Location: Macao
16,251 posts, read 39,836,517 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hinher View Post
I just got accepted as a transfer student to Cornell University as a development sociology major. My goal after graduation is to work in either southeast Asia or Bhutan. I'm guessing that development sociology isn't exactly a valued major in that part of the world.

Most people would recommend engineering as a career option, but that just isn't me. I could possibly switch my major to international agriculture and rural development, but that would likely preclude me from getting a minor. Would that be a valued major? Another option would be to keep my current major and pick up a minor in either international trade and development or applied economics. Would that be a good idea?

At this point I haven't really decided if I want to work for an american business oversees or try to find employment with a local company over there. Any advice you guys have on potential educational or career paths would be appreciated.

Btw, I am white, male, was born in America, and as of now do not speak a foreign language (I might start Thai or Khmer next semester though).
All of those majors....seems like they would be based on academia? Maybe you could ultimately try to get into a PhD program, and pursuing an interest in those fields with southeast asia as a focus? Otherwise, I doubt the major would mean anything at all to a Thai employer, just in general. I am not sure how much research you could realistically do without knowing any of the language either, and only with a BA in the field.

Some of the other options you mention sound like potential NGO work? Those either pay really well, or not at all. For the ones that pay well, I believe you'd need a MA, or even a PhD. Otherwise, as far as I know, its more on the lines of almost volunteer work.

All that being said. What most foreigners who desire to live in Southeast Asia, predominately do one of these things:

1) Teach English (for low pay).
2) Try to start or manage a small business like hostel, guesthouse, bar, etc.
3) Journalism (also low pay, generally)
4) Live off retirement income/stipends
5) MBA types who are working in the international offices in BKK, etc.
6) Translators

Probably others, but those are the ones that are off the top of my head...

I also want to copy what TEAK said about ENGINEERING. I've met a ton of people into engineering and travel all around the world on assignments frequently. I am quite envious, I never even considered or really understood that they could do that when I was a kid. But when I meet those types on their contracts living in foreign countries, I am always envious.
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Old 04-25-2011, 05:43 AM
 
Location: Earth
24,630 posts, read 26,785,723 times
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Bhutan is high on my list of places to visit.

I've been to Thailand a gazillion times (okay, 20). It's a very easy country to acclimate yourself to SE Asia.
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Old 04-25-2011, 10:43 AM
 
5,473 posts, read 8,945,136 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hinher View Post
I just got accepted as a transfer student to Cornell University as a development sociology major. My goal after graduation is to work in either southeast Asia or Bhutan. I'm guessing that development sociology isn't exactly a valued major in that part of the world.

Most people would recommend engineering as a career option, but that just isn't me. I could possibly switch my major to international agriculture and rural development, but that would likely preclude me from getting a minor. Would that be a valued major? Another option would be to keep my current major and pick up a minor in either international trade and development or applied economics. Would that be a good idea?

At this point I haven't really decided if I want to work for an american business oversees or try to find employment with a local company over there. Any advice you guys have on potential educational or career paths would be appreciated.

Btw, I am white, male, was born in America, and as of now do not speak a foreign language (I might start Thai or Khmer next semester though).
Of the language options you've indicated interest in, I would suggest learning Thai, since Thailand has a better economy and more in terms of international relations/trade, IMO. At least more so than, say, Cambodia. That's not meant to put Cambodia down, but just saying.

I'd also second the recommendations to establish some solid connections by networking. One possibility is through Thai students in the US. A lot of students from Thailand who are studying at universities in the US often do so for as a matter of prestige as well as for more of a boost in terms of seeking employment back home. I don't know how many Thais study at Cornell, but it might be worth doing a little investigation to find out if Cornell has an ESL dept. Students studying ESL generally do so in order to qualify for higher TOEFL scores just to get into regular classes. And it's those students you can and should try to connect with.

There are several ways to develop such networking opportunities. One is that you could volunteer with the ESL dept to help students practice their skills.

Thai students tend to more frequently socialize together. They often hold events that are Thai related. Attend such events as often as you can and try to meet as many Thais as possible. The purpose is that most of the university Thais are able to study in the US because they are from families in higher income brackets back home. Some of those connections may be in a position to provide some good leads to potential opportunities that may otherwise be more difficult, if not impossible, to find any other way. The students might also be happy to help you learn a little Thai, although it won't likely be a substitute for more formally learning the language.


About Teaching English in Thailand
Trying to teach English in Thailand isn't as easy to do as might be thought. For example, most of the better English language institutes in Thailand require at least a BA in English and a TEFL certificate. Most of the starting jobs (if they are available) are not salaried and when available tend to be part-time. In most cases, I think you also have to make your own visa arrangements.

AUA (American University Alumni) Language Center is one with branches around the country, the largest being in Bangkok on Ratchadamri Road. In the past, most of the people working there have degrees and have spouses who earn a lot more. While they describe they offer a competetive salary, it's not much and can be thought of extra income (spending money) and little to no benefits. Currently, it looks like there are no opportunities available at AUA.
::: AUA Language Center: Working at AUA :::

British-American Institute is another option, but again, opportunities (if available) tend to be part-time and on-call. In other words, when needed, you're sent out to businesses, factories, corporations, to teach on location (not at the Institute). If there's enough demand, it coulld keep a person pretty busy, however, you are required to pay your own travel expenses and there are no benefits for part-timers. There could be long stretches with no work at all. They are located on Lat Prao Road in Bangkok.
เรียนภาษาอังกฤษ
Contact info can be found here:
British-American Language Institute - Info | Facebook

There are all sorts of small private language schools around the country, but they are usually so small that they seldom hire anyone.

In the past, almost any native English speaker could find work teaching English. It's a lot diferent now. The Thai government requires teachers to hold degrees and ESL certification. It's possible to work on the sly privately as a tutor in homes, but I wouldn't count on that as a dependable source of income. For that matter, full-timers at the established institutes don't usually provide much of an income and offer little to no benefits. On top of all that, it's also a good idea to be fairly fluent in Thai.



Best bet for working is either through US corporations that have a presence in Thailand, and/or to network with Thais living in the US, some of whom may have good family connections or can provide leads to meet other people who have connections. Regardless, there are no guarantees that any of it will lead to a successful opportunity or position.

To be honest, your best bet initially, would be to spend some time in the country to see if it even appeals to you. Some people (like myself) love the country despite its flaws. But there are other people (many of whom have been assigned by work to Thailand) that hate being there. You really need to know beforehand if you can tolerate the heat, the humidity, the rains, the traffic and noise, the language, customs and habits of people. Once you've actually spent some time there (or anywhere else), you'll have a better idea as to whether or not it appeals enough that you'd want to spend a longer period of time there.
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Old 04-25-2011, 10:48 PM
 
Location: Native Floridian, USA
5,122 posts, read 6,921,223 times
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I loved Thailand and Cambodia when I was there on vacation. I thought all the ideas offered here were really excellent, especially about cultivating some Thai contacts while in school, if possible. Good luck.

May I ask what made you choose SE Asia as a career location ?
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Old 04-28-2011, 11:52 AM
 
134 posts, read 317,947 times
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Thanks for the great answers everyone! To answer AnnieA's question... The food is the best in the world, the cultures are interesting, the cost of living is low, and there is no snow. Ha, I know those sound like odd reason's but it makes the area more attractive than anywhere else for me.
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Old 03-15-2013, 05:45 PM
 
Location: Europe, in the Land of the mean
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Why 's snow a bad thing? I don't like the people where we 're based at but I still stop to stare at it ( not thst we get that much in the plains)¡ Hate the humid, hot climatre I grew up in..
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