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Career Make-Over

Siren Song of Thailand Beckons Ex-Music Executive to New Life

December 31, 2000|SUSAN VAUGHN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It's a common fantasy: quitting work, leaving America and starting anew in an exotic land.

Most people only daydream about such a radical change. But Sean Carasov, 40, is taking steps to make it happen. The London-born former music industry executive said that, after 22 years in his profession, he's grown weary of the grind of Los Angeles. He's seeking a simpler, more spiritual existence.

"The perspective of my life has changed," he said.

It's not that Carasov woke up one day with a new mandate. In 1996, after leaving his job as vice president of A&R for Atlantic Records, he began doing freelance music supervision for films and documentaries. Though he earned $70,000 last year from various projects, he worries about his new career's long-term potential.

"This is a highly competitive field, and I go from job to job not knowing if I'm going to work again," Carasov said. "Realistically, I have to look at doing something else. I have tried to go back to working for a record company in my former capacity as a talent scout, but I've been away too long and have had no luck."

The Hollywood resident hunted for other career options. He considered working as a journalist, providing Web content or moving to Pacific Grove to become a Big Sur-area park ranger. He took classes in computer programming. But none of these paths seemed right.

A trip to Southeast Asia helped him realize what might make him happiest: moving to Thailand to teach, write or start a business. "That's where I want to be," said Carasov, who's now taking classes in conversational Thai. "From the first time I was there, I felt really at home."

How can he make the transition overseas successfully? For help, he contacted Career Make-Over and discussed career alternatives with Virginia-based consultant Ron Krannich, an expert on international jobs who lived in Thailand for five years and visits the country annually.

Krannich was optimistic about Carasov's prospects. He suggested that Carasov consider three options: teaching English or taking an administrative position at a Thailand-based school, or working as a journalist for one of the English-language Thai newspapers, such as the Bangkok Post or the Nation.

He put Carasov in touch with the president of Yonok College (http://www.yonok.ac.th/indexe.htm), a 3,000-student private university in Lampang, Thailand. The president encouraged Carasov to visit his campus. In just a few days, after a vacation stop in Vietnam, Carasov will be traveling there for an interview.

During the trip, Carasov also may want to visit several Bangkok-based schools that employ large teaching staffs, including the English and Computer College, Siam Computer and Language Institute and the American University Language Centre.

He also can check Web sites

http://www.ajarn.com and http://www.eslcafe.com/search/Jobs/AsiaThailand

for open teaching positions in Thailand.

Native English-speaking teachers are needed by schools outside of Bangkok, particularly in areas such as Hat Yai and Chiang Mai to the north and Songkla to the south, wrote Susan Griffith in "Work Abroad: The Complete Guide to Finding a Job Overseas" (Transitions Abroad Publishing, 2001).

Should Carasov decide to teach English in Thailand, he probably will want to obtain appropriate certification, which is required in more than 80% of overseas schools. The certification courses typically take four weeks to complete. With certification, he'd have more teaching options available and could command higher wages.

The most prestigious, challenging and widely accepted credential is the Royal Society of Arts/Cambridge CELTA (Certificate Course in English Language Teaching to Adults), offered by a few U.S.-based organizations. Formal certification also is available in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

If Carasov wishes to get certified while he's in Thailand, he can contact New World Teachers, which offers a TEFL training program at Prince of Songkla University in Phuket, at (800) 644-5424; or TEFL International Teacher Training, which has an office in Rayong.

Once he has obtained his credentials, he can run classified advertisements about his qualifications in the English-language Bangkok Post (http://www.bangkokpost.net/classifieds/classindex.html) to attract possible employers.

Many overseas schools hire American teachers through U.S.-based placement services. However, Thai schools prefer that American teachers visit their campuses, go through interviews, take grammar tests and submit to a references and credentials check.

And though a majority of schools abroad require bachelor's degrees, formal certification and at least two years of teaching experience of their new hires, Thai schools are often more flexible in their requirements.

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