Nathan Edgerton '07

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Name: Nathan Edgerton
Job: Curriculum Developer and Teacher at The Knowledge
Current City: Bangkok, Thailand
School: Princeton - Class of 2007
Major: Politics; Political Economy
Social Media:

LinkedIn Profile

At Princeton

As the end of senior year approached I was unsure about what track to take. My interests were (and still are) broad and I was afraid that working in banking, consulting or other workload-heavy fields would only narrow my perspective and leave me without the time to explore new things. Luckily I was chosen for Princeton in Asia and shipped off to Vietnam to teach English at a university in the Mekong Delta.

After Graduation

Since then I've lived in 3 different countries and visited about 10 others. I moved on to another teaching position at a secondary school in Singapore, stumbled upon a writing job for a publishing company in northern Thailand, and then took up another teaching position in Bangkok. In between my jobs I've had the flexibility in my schedule to be able to take a 4-month 2000-mile bicycle trip through Vietnam, ride a motorbike through Laos with a friend, try scuba diving in the Philippines, practice kickboxing in Thailand and hike to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal.

Perhaps I've lost a few years of climbing the career ladder and foregone a lot of potential earnings, but I'm happy. I still feel like I'm learning and facing new challenges all the time, and new opportunities arise often. I'm now applying to go back for my master's degree in either international economics or public policy, but I'm planning to study in either Thailand or Singapore since tuition is way cheaper than in the states (about $7,000 per year, plus far lower living costs), I can keep learning new languages, and I can keep building my experience in a part of the world that's certain to play an increasing economic and political role in global affairs.

I was recently talking with a friend who has also been living in Southeast Asia for the past five years about what it is that's kept us both out here so long. For him, one of the top reasons was that it's possible to land interesting positions and take on meaningful responsibility within in a relatively short time compared to climbing the career ladder back in the US. One second-year PIA fellow in Hanoi was called on to give a presentation before a UN committee meeting. My friend started an exchange program between Cambodian and Vietnamese university students and he has also been promoted to be the program director for a volunteer work program in Southeast Asia. I accepted a job offer to research and write an original 200-page guidebook on the history, theory and practice of Thai massage, even though I had only previously published a few travel articles and some news stories in the Daily Princetonian. The bottom line is that as a well-educated English speaker your skills are at a high premium in Southeast Asia, and that can open up a lot of interesting opportunities for you.


There are tremendous opportunities in Asia now, and pretty much all signs say they're going to get even better in the future. For someone willing to learn the local language in a new country and work hard, there are chances to quickly advance to interesting positions that it would take much longer to reach back in the States.



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