Sunday, June 05, 2005

Congratulations on your new job!

If you recall, last week I received another possible job offer at a school in Ulsan. It sounded relatively interesting so I told Ben at Footprints Recruiting to send my file to the school. While I was in Mexico Ben emailed me to tell me that I had been offered the job. My response was this:

Hi Ben,

I’ve received your messages and I’m excited about the opportunity. I can confirm that I will be able to leave as early as the 24th of June. I would like to know about D’Arcy and whether the owner is aware ofher coming in August. Please let me know. Sorry about the strange punctuation, but I am currently in Mexico!

Best, Jessica

To my surprise I got the following response the next day. The subject was “Congratulations on your new job!”

Dear Jessica,

I am very pleased to hear you have accepted a position with ELC. That is great news, and congratulations on your new job! You are about to embark on a life changing experience. I have enclosed a document for you that details what needs to be done…

And it went on with further details. WHAT?!?! Had I agreed to the job? I certainly didn’t think so but in retrospect I guess my email is a bit ambiguous. I nearly had a heart attack when I read this email, though. Had I signed any contracts?? I quickly wrote back to clear up the misunderstanding, stressing the importance of D’Arcy’s ability to join me and also my desire to communicate with current teachers at the school. Ben told me to let him know when I have spoken to them and made my decision. Great, thanks for all the help, buddy. I emailed Mr. Park, the director of the school and haven’t heard back from him yet.

After all of this I looked at the contract that was attached to the “congratulations” email. Turns out the start date is for June 20th, they want me to pay for my own plane ticket which will later be reimbursed (when and where and how it doesn’t specify) and the vacation time is very unclear. I wrote back to Ben to tell him about my concerns with these issues. I think he might be getting annoyed with me, but frankly I’m getting annoyed with him. If he only listened to me in the first place things would be much easier for him.

So that’s where I stand right now. I’m waiting for a response from both Ben and Mr. Park, and D’Arcy for that matter (Darce, where are you?). I wonder if this contract will fall through. It’s okay, there will be others. I haven't heard anything from Shane at Canadian Connection either, but maybe D'Arcy has.


At June 06, 2005 12:48 a.m. , Blogger Blake said...

If they don't send you a plane ticket, don't go. Don't even think about it.

If you were paying for your own plane ticket at the beginning (whether you pay you back or not), you might as well just get a job in Japan.

You WILL have other job offers that will sent you a physical plane ticket (or at least an e-ticket) in the mail. Dont' accept anything less.

Here's a few tidbits, about picking a job, that I dug up from

-try to talk to employees at your future place of employment
-schools with less than 5 permanent employees should be avoided
-try to discover the legal nature of the employer
-find out how many students in the school - less than 150 should raise your concerns
-find out how long your school has been operating - a boom in new schools over the last few years has seen many new operators enter the industry, thus diminishing the student pool per school- established schools tend to have a good reputation and sound capital reserves

Right now I'm looking for a new job. Why? Because I will probably be let go soon. Even if I'm not, the school that I'm in might be shut down by September.

My school employees four people and has just over 50 students. If you do the math, the director isn't making any money at all (based on my guess of 200K won a month per kid). On top of that, when the school has less than four employees, the employees have less rights. For me, being the new guy sucks.

Choose a school with at least a couple hundred students and at least half a dozen other teachers. The more foreign teachers the better.

As for the "vacation time". Make damned sure that the contract says "10 days for holidays IN ADDITION TO ten vacation days". Most contracts do say 10 days for holidays. Interestingly, there are 10 national holidays a year... Hmmmmmm... A coincidence? Nope. Those 10 holidays are often once a month, and on whatever day of the week the national holiday falls on. You won't be getting many long weekends.

On the bright side, I do enjoy living here.

At June 06, 2005 1:04 a.m. , Blogger Jessica said...

Hey Blake,

Thanks for the great advice. I was unclear on the whole plane ticket issue, but I knew the wording of this particular contract sounded fishy. I have found that EFL-law page actually; it's really helpful.

Good luck with the job search. Are you planning on staying in Ulsan?

At June 06, 2005 9:22 a.m. , Blogger Blake said...

Yes, I plan on staying in Ulsan. I've met enough nice people here that I'd rather stay here than leave.

If it was impossible to stay here, I'd consider Busan, but there really are a lot of jobs here.

In your case, I'd recommend Busan, Taejeon or Ulsan. Why? Because those are the only cities that I've really been to here! Both Busan and Taejeon are nicer cities than Ulsan, but the foreigner group in Ulsan is quite close and supportive of each other. There are a lot of cool sites nearby. If you end up here, make sure that you find the Tombstone bar in Mugeo-dong, near the university. The guys that own it are really good and helpful guys. As well, the long-timers in Ulsan hang out there and are great for advice. There's a small map of how to get there on the Ulsan web. Of course I'm a bit biased saying that there's a great group of foreingers here since I live here. I'd hung out with a great group of people in Daejeon when I was there and I'm sure that the other cities are the same. Most cities look about the same to me. Also with Daejeon, it's right in the middle of the country on the KTX high speed train line. You can get to Seoul in an hour and to Busan in two hours. It's in a great spot in the country.

A positive about Seoul is that if you are right in Seoul, they are very used to foreigners. Maybe you'd be able to avoid all of the late night invites to drink mekju(beer) with drunken Koreans. It gets annoying after awhile. Also, the international airport is there. It makes travelling convenient (if you have a chance to!). Also, all of the decent shopping is in Seoul. You probably wouldn't go wrong by going there.

With Busan, the ferry to Japan is right there and it leaves multiple times a day. It's really easy to get out of Korea for a day or two if you're going insane and you want to see a fully modernized country. Ulsan is good for this also, as Busan is less than an hour away. If you leave in the morning, it's less than an hour to the Busan subway line by bus. It takes something like 15-20 minutes on the subway to get to the ferry port.

At June 06, 2005 7:59 p.m. , Blogger Jessica said...

All this is good to know. I didn't think the process would be so time consuming and annoying. Grr.


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