Alumni Stories: Keeley Thornton

Keeley Thornton (BA 2006) went recently received her teaching certification abroad.

“I completed my MA in Liberal Studies, with a concentration in Approaches to Modernity, focusing on English and Musicology in January of 2011,” Keeley tells us. “Most recently, I earned my TEFL/TESOL Certification from Maximo Nivel, in San Pedro-San Jose, Costa Rica.”

While Keeley always knew she “belonged in front of the classroom in some form,” her original hopes upon finishing graduate school were to teach at the college level. But, faced with stiff and abundant competition, Keeley changed direction and headed for a new career teaching English as a foreign language (ESL).

For her ESL certification, Keeley spent four weeks in Costa Rica training in methodologies for teaching English. The teaching practicum component to her certification, Keeley admits, was “exciting and insanely intimidating” since she had never taught before. Though she was new to teaching, Keeley got a job right as her training ended: “During the last week of the program, I was hired for a company called Idioma Internacional as a corporate trainer. Our company focuses on teaching English to professionals, as sponsored by companies such as Intel, Hewlett-Packard, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).”

Keeley is currently under a one-year contract at this position and is excited about her ESL work. “So far it has been a challenging, rewarding, and extremely enjoyable start to a career in ESL teaching.”

Having faced the grueling job market, Keeley advises her fellow English majors to  have a back-up plan and to keep in mind all of the skills that an English degree instills. “If you are brave enough to go with your gut and follow your literary passions, then kudos to you! That being said, don’t freak out if you don’t land one of the two jobs “relevant” to your major. You’ve learned so much from presenting, writing, editing, and constantly thinking analytically that you will find an enjoyable job that you are qualified for. Just be prepared to think outside of the book.”

Keeley also has some pointers on how to  best “sell yourself” to potential employers. Keeley advises, “Learn how to write an amazing cover letter. Keep it short, be witty.”

Now successfully employed as a teacher, Keeley is thankful for the skills she learned in obtaining her English degree and the role they played in helping her achieve her goals. “My educational endeavors undoubtedly assisted in my procurement of such an interesting job and such an amazing life experience,” she says. “Being an English major gave me the opportunity to hone my language skills and helped me become a confident public speaker through countless presentations and class discussions.”

Anyone interested in ESL opportunities with Idioma Internacional can check out this link courtesy of Keeley.

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