My name is Jordan Carlton and I took part in the Teach & Learn program through Instituto Franklin in 2009-2010. I’m sure my experience was similar to many other students from the program, i.e. I absolutely loved my time in Spain, but I wasn’t 100% sure how I wanted to translate my time in Madrid into a career back home. I want to share with you my experience in the program and how it has led me into my current occupation.
When I moved to Madrid in 2009, it was my second stint at the University of Alcala. I had previously completed a summer study abroad program through Instituto Franklin in 2008, which is where I first found out about the Teach & Learn program. My undergraduate degree was in International Business and Spanish, so I assumed that a longer stay abroad would enhance my resume even further. I would gain a degree from an overseas school, I would get the true expat experience while working as an “Auxiliar”, and, perhaps most importantly, I would obtain a more advanced level of Spanish. While my time in Spain certainly met all of those expectations (and more), I think an unexpected result of my time in the program was that it completely changed the trajectory of my professional and personal life.
Before taking part in the Teach & Learn program, I always assumed that I would return to the States to join some large, multinational corporation. I was working in Madrid to obtain a Masters of Education in the Language, Literature, and Culture of the Hispanic World, but I thought I would parlay it into some sort of career working in the Latin American sector (which could certainly still be an option for those of you considering it). However, while living and working in Madrid, the one thing that became extremely clear was my intense love of education.
My experience as an “Auxiliar” was much more intense than anticipated. I was essentially expected to be a full-time teacher, including planning lessons for science, art, and English conversation. It was a difficult and stressful transition into a classroom environment, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It showed me how important it is for students to have a great teacher, it demonstrated that high-quality classroom instruction can have a profound impact on a student’s life, and it made it clear to me that a single individual can make a huge difference through providing education to others. After my year in the program, I loved my school so much that I stayed for an additional year before moving back to the States in August 2011.
Upon my return to the US, I re-evaluated everything in my life to decide how to move forward. I knew that education was my calling, although I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a teacher (although I was open to the possibility). I knew that I was interested in business, although I no longer wanted to work in the corporate world. And I knew that I had many new interests that I wanted to incorporate into my career, such as traveling, speaking Spanish, and working with students.
After taking some time to research job opportunities, I stumbled upon an opening for a Recruitment and Selection Coordinator at the Dallas Independent School District, one of the largest public school districts in the US. The job was essentially to travel around the US, speak with teacher candidates in both English and Spanish, and select the very best educators for the students in Dallas. The position description matched exactly what I was looking for and I was lucky enough to land a dream job with the school system in Dallas.
After spending over 4 years in Dallas, I have worked my way up to manage the entire Talent Acquisition department for the Dallas public school system. I work directly with universities around the country to create new partnerships between organizations, I travel to Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Spain annually to select teachers for our district, and I make sure that every student in Dallas has the absolute best teacher possible. I look forward to my work every day and truly love what I do.
It’s definitely not what I expected to be doing after graduation from undergrad, and I can honestly say that my time in the Teach & Learn program set me on the path to get here. I never knew about my passion for education until I spent my time in Spain, which certainly led me to seek this kind of work. However, I know for a fact that the skills I gained through the program are what opened the door for me. I have real-world experience in the classroom, I can easily hold conversations in Spanish (and many friends and coworkers smile with surprise upon hearing my Castilian accent), and it’s evident through my time abroad that I’m independent and good at problem-solving. All of which led me to be selected over the multitude of other applicants at that time.
If you’re unsure about your career path post-T&L, please know that you are not alone. However, the skills that come from this program extend far beyond the classroom and will prepare you for an incredibly wide range of possibilities. Instituto Franklin has definitely had a profound impact on my life and I assure you that it will have one for you as well.
If you have any questions or just want to reach out, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to discuss potential career paths with you, especially if you’re interested in moving to Dallas!