중앙데일리

With a little help from my network

July 02,2008
Jesse Watt
Every week, as I rummage through my book of business cards to come up with someone to cover in this column, I gain a new appreciation of just how vital contacts are. This is especially true when my deadline rolls around on Monday and I start frantically calling everyone I know to ask if they know someone I can write about for this week’s slot.

Yesterday morning, when I still hadn’t found anyone, I went to my morning job at EBS Radio trying to think of some way to get a photo big enough to fill this space.

Then, right in front of me, salvation appeared in the form of Jesse Watt, who does the show with me.

Watt, to spin in a tangible theme, has used a web of contacts to create an enviable career for himself in the rough-and-tumble world of English education in Korea.

Originally a high school teacher in Canada, Watt left for Korea in 2000 when he found he wasn’t ready to commit to the job. He started out at what he euphemistically calls an “entry-level” hagwon position, later upgrading to a more reputable academy. After three years in the hagwon circuit, a contact got Watt a job at Anyang Technical College.

Later, another connection got him on the air at EBS. There, he met a talented radio host who just so happened to also write a column for a local newspaper, launching Watt to national stardom.

That, perhaps, is overstating things (on several levels), but Watt is doing well for himself. Now working as a freelancer (he is, he wanted to make certain I include, allowed to do this because he has a spouse visa), he edits and writes educational materials, teaches Toefl and does broadcasting among a wide range of other jobs in the field.

“The network gives me that variety,” he said. “After you get an F-2 [spouse visa] ? make sure you put it in that I have one ? there’s such a demand out there that you could easily fill your schedule with English teaching, but the network gives you more options.”

Visa concerns clearly not weighing heavily on his mind, Watt doesn’t mind the running around town that being a freelancer entails.

“My favorite thing about working here is the variety. It’s cool to do broadcasting in the morning, Internet teaching in the afternoon, and then in the evening do textbook editing at home with my wife right there.”

Ever the teacher, Watt has some advice on maintaining a network in Korea. “Some teachers treat this place like their own personal cash machine,” he said, “but you have to be sensitive to the culture.”

Which reminds me, I also have a little network maintenance to do. Do you, or does someone you know, have an interesting perspective to offer on expatriate life in Korea? If so, I would love to hear from you. Please drop me a line at richard@jooongang.co.kr. Who knows, it just may help out your network, too.

By Richard Scott-Ashe Deputy Editor [richard@joongang.co.kr]





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