Disclaimer: The following is a post in the true cliché spirit. I realise that everyone who writes a blog about moving to Korea includes a post like this one. However, this is also a post in the spirit of keeping y’all up to date on what I’ve been up to. Other cliché posts that you can bet on seeing soon: “Ohmygosh the plane ride was soooo long!” and “Hey guys! Check out some pictures of my teeny tiny Korean apartment!” Yeah, I know. Just try to contain your excitement.
So, you may be wondering: Hey Meagan, just how does one go about finding a job in Korea? What’s that? You weren’t wondering? Well, allow me to tell you anyhow.
The easiest way to find a job while you’re still at home is to find a recruiter to match you with a school. The schools pay recruiters once they have successfully matched a teacher with a job. I worked with a few recruiters, increasing the number of offers, but I also had some pretty specific requests — I did not want to teach kindergarten and I did not want to live in a city with fewer than 500 000 people — that made finding a job a bit trickier than it would have been otherwise.
It is also worth noting that right now is not the best time to be going over to Korea for the first time and it might take a bit of time to find a job. Because of the recent economic downturn, there are more foreign teachers choosing to extend their Korean contracts rather than returning home to joblessness. There is also a larger number of newbies, like me, trying to find jobs in Korea than there might be in a better economic environment. That said, I remain convinced that if you are willing and qualified (i.e. If you are a native English speaker, have a university degree, and have a pulse) then you will find a job.
The interview process can be difficult, especially for North Americans, because of the time difference. I had interviews at all hours of the night and early morning — anywhere from 10:30 pm to 6:00 am. I went through a few interviews before I found a school that seemed like a good fit. It’s a Hagwon (a private institute that students attend after their normal school to get extra lessons in English and math etc.) near Ilsan, about 30 minutes by subway from Seoul. After the school had made its decision, they emailed me a copy of the contract and I mailed them a signed copy, along with my university degree, criminal background check, and university transcripts to start the visa process. Once I knew that my FedEx parcel had safely arrived in Korea, I played the waiting game.
After a few weeks of hearing nothing, I did hear back from the recruiter with a visa confirmation number. Once I had that number it was my turn to take action again. I filled out a visa application and sent it and my passport to the Korean consulate in Toronto. A few days later, I visited the consulate to have my face-to-face interview and retrieve my passport, stamped with my visa.
It’s strangely disheartening and satisfying to be able to summarize the last four months of my life in less than one page, but that’s really the gist of it. Throughout the visa process there was a bit of uncertainty regarding what would happen with my job, as the school found itself in a situation where they needed me to arrive before I was able to. However, it seems to have been settled. I have a ticket from Toronto to Seoul for December 27th. And that, my friends, is when the real adventure will begin. Y’all.