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Finding work in Poznan
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ecocks



Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 886
Location: Gdansk, Poland

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2014 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

iceman201 wrote:


Ecocks - Yeah I agree networking is important in every industry. Fortunately I already have some friends who are ESL teachers in Poznan, met them through my summer camp work last year and I'll work with them again this summer. Plus I'll meet Delphian when I arrive too.

I'm generally not very good at loafing around, except when the world cup is on... Cool


That's a promising start then. Don't take this wrong and I certainly don't want to get embroiled in one of the pissing matches but I am not particularly referring to networking with other expat TEFL teachers.

My point was that I continually see expats whose idea of "netwoto rking" is sitting around chatting and boozing (in my instance swilling coffee) with other expats. Certainly a part of your business network should consist of solid, well-grounded expats who can show your the ropes, point out pathways and tip you off to the realities of local living (finding ones that become good friends is a big bonus!) but too many expats hang out with their own and fail to build a local network. They feel that one or two locals on the fringe of their clique suffices and the closest they come engaging in an activity is to try to penetrate a language exchange group to farm for students.

You can spot them always hanging out in insular groups at a certain pub or two. Ironically, they're often bitching about poor students and struggling finances. My advice is to find the same sort of interest areas you would in your home world and develop them.

For some that would be classes at the university, sightseeing trips to areas spots, adventure sports, hobbies, theater, whatever. If you wish to be a successful independent you need to make connections of your own that make you confident and put you in control of your environment. You have to remember that YOU are your inventory and marketing yourself is critical to having a steady flow of students if you hope to make a real business and get setup in a country.

Some other examples: joining a theater group, going on fishing trips, putting together tour groups, teaching swing dance or guitar, connecting with Embassy educational & cultural staff as an occasional volunteer, forming a karaoke club, and so on. There are all sorts of things that will put you in contact with wider ranges of potential students. I picked up students from the local library, Rotary and Toastmasters. Aside from being good, "normal" people, these organizations tend to attract higher-energy, more outgoing individuals who are willing to work harder to achieve success in their lives.

Being an entrepreneur isn't easy for everyone as it seems. For some it requires a bit of discipline to understand the payback, to others it comes more naturally due to their personalities and interests.

Of course, some are quite content to work at a school as an employee and that's great as long as they are happy. For the vast majority of long-term TEFL teachers though, the key to becoming successful involves building an acceptable mix of regular classes, privates and contract work that provides you financial opportunity, stability and an enjoyable lifestyle.

Enjoy the ride and don't become one of the boorish dark holes of energy which tend to pop up in TEFL circles a bit more than in most professions.

Best of Luck!
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 533

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2014 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The post above should be made a sticky Smile

I'd add only one piece of advice - don't be afraid to say no. I remember telling one language school that I'd only consider them if they upped their offer to at least 75zl an hour, and even then, I'd have to seriously think about it as I wasn't convinced by the interview.

The other thing - and I learnt this the hard way - always find out exactly what you have to do in order to complete the classes. Some schools are absolutely dreadful for insisting on ridiculous amounts of paperwork, others will send you to places that are absolutely not worth going to.

For instance - I once made a huge mistake of not enquiring as to precise details about an in-company class. It was 140zl for 90 minutes, and the company was quite close to where I lived. The time of the class was perfect, so I went to the first lesson quite pleased with myself and my negotiation skills.

A 10 minute drive to the company - no problem there. Then I realised that the visitor carpark was right on the edge of the huge site (Volkswagen in Swarzedz, for locals..). Ho hum, okay - so that was a 5 minute walk to the entry gate. The guy lets me in, then shows me a map - it was a 15 minute walk to the office in question. All in all, I'd be wasting 40 minutes just getting to/from my car - and another 20 minutes going to the class. 140zl for 150 minutes suddenly seemed like an exceptionally bad deal. I stuck it out for the duration of the contract (40 hours) - but it was a constant reminder to check every single detail.
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iceman201



Joined: 11 Feb 2014
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's some really great advice guys, thanks Smile
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ecocks



Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 886
Location: Gdansk, Poland

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

iceman201 wrote:
That's some really great advice guys, thanks Smile


Happy to help.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 782
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 6:47 pm    Post subject: yep Reply with quote

1-Jeszyce is where quite a few of the expats I know live. Definitely a bit studenty, near the uni and handy for the town centre. It's also near the trams. Don't live on a street with a tram line as they are noisy buggers and start early. You know about checking the rates. You'll need to shell out a deposit and finder's fee if you use an agent.

2-You gotta do the footwork re the schools/unis etc etc as there are loads of them. Wear a suit, drop the CV in and ask if the director is there and try to speak to them and then make a follow up call and send an email. September, early is probably a good time.

3-Get your CV on the nativespeaker website, plaster your name all over the tram stops like lots do and keep an eye on Gumtree.pl. You'll meet privates as you go along.

4-Cheap shops for groceries are Biedronka and Lidl. Piotr I Pawel and Alma are probably the most expensive. The markets are cheap as is fast food and public transport. I'd get a good pair of winter shoes and a jacket wherever you are now.

5-If you are doing the camp with Bell, try and get a full-time gig with them but understand it's a survival wage and you'll need your partner's income.

6-Make sure you arrive with enough money to tide you over for a while ie about 3k GBP.
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iceman201



Joined: 11 Feb 2014
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the advice Dragon, I already live in Poland so I know where the cheap places to shop are and that I need sturdy winter clothes Smile

I've got a good sum of money saved, should be enough to pay for rent, deposit and possibly a finders fee with enough left over to keep us going until I can fill my timetable. Plus my partner will be working.

My CV is on the nativespeaker site already and I check gumtree regularly. Already planned to buy a new suit after camps (won't be anything flash but a new suit is a new suit) and put in the ground work as you suggest.

Good guess that it's the Bell camps I'm working on Wink Yeah I am hopeful I will get a good number of hours with them post-summer. Perhaps the money isn't so great but I am still young (25) and early in my career so I can see some advantages to working for a school rather than being entirely freelance.


Thanks for the advice about where to live, yeah I can imagine those trams are a pain in the ass in the morning! Mad
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 782
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:59 am    Post subject: and... Reply with quote

The other good thing about Jeszyce is that there's a pub called Agawa and there's a little expat crowd that drinks there. There's a darts league and you could make some good contacts there as some of them work at the uni. I don't know if Troy is still at Bell but he's been in Poznan ages and could give you some pointers.
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 533

PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

iceman201 wrote:
Good guess that it's the Bell camps I'm working on Wink Yeah I am hopeful I will get a good number of hours with them post-summer. Perhaps the money isn't so great but I am still young (25) and early in my career so I can see some advantages to working for a school rather than being entirely freelance.


Definitely - if you can get into Bell for a year or two, it'll help you a lot in the long run. They're one of the better employers in Poznan, and it can open further doors elsewhere.
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 958
Location: Itabashi, Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

delphian-domine wrote:
Definitely - if you can get into Bell for a year or two, it'll help you a lot in the long run. They're one of the better employers in Poznan, and it can open further doors elsewhere.
Obviously, we're not talking about ELS Bell, are we.

What makes them so good to work for? I'd like to know how the 'other' Bell operates.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 782
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:13 pm    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

Bell pay around 50Zl/hour. They are reliable in Poznan I've heard and that means you get paid every month, which certainly isn't the case for the Bell in Bydgoszcz. All my pals have at least one horror story about not getting paid correctly in Poznan. However, I think it's the same the world over in this industry.

In my experience and you have to remember, I work with an older set of teachers, no-one gives a damn about who you worked for re language schools or whether you got a grade 'B' in the CELTA etc. We look for people who can hack it , fit in, don't rock the boat, aren't prima donnas with regard to teaching. I think the least experienced guy I work with has 8 or 9 years, most have 15-20. It's a given that the teacher knows his stuff.

Most of my past breaks have come through pot luck or personal contacts. Now I've got years in the oilfield, employers seem to like me and I get regular offers from an oil and gas website. I've used my time constructively, been on all sorts of training days and induction tours and have a good knowledge of oil and gas vocabulary and operations. I wouldn't be phased if a student asked what a separator was or an amine absorber. I can even explain the different types and how they work.

So get your early development in and then try and specialize in something. That would be my advice whether you are in Poznan or anywhere else.
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 533

PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Master Shake wrote:
delphian-domine wrote:
Definitely - if you can get into Bell for a year or two, it'll help you a lot in the long run. They're one of the better employers in Poznan, and it can open further doors elsewhere.
Obviously, we're not talking about ELS Bell, are we.

What makes them so good to work for? I'd like to know how the 'other' Bell operates.


It's just professionalism - they pay on time, they treat professional development seriously, they expect you to be professional and so on. By all accounts, they have absolutely no patience for teachers who aren't serious and dedicated.

Quote:
In my experience and you have to remember, I work with an older set of teachers, no-one gives a damn about who you worked for re language schools or whether you got a grade 'B' in the CELTA etc. We look for people who can hack it , fit in, don't rock the boat, aren't prima donnas with regard to teaching. I think the least experienced guy I work with has 8 or 9 years, most have 15-20. It's a given that the teacher knows his stuff.


Seems like a great place to work for someone who has no career aspirations and doesn't mind taking orders. Which is fair enough - turning up, getting the job done and buggering off is quite appealing for many people.
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Post Mortem



Joined: 01 Apr 2014
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

delphian-domine wrote:
Master Shake wrote:
delphian-domine wrote:
Definitely - if you can get into Bell for a year or two, it'll help you a lot in the long run. They're one of the better employers in Poznan, and it can open further doors elsewhere.
Obviously, we're not talking about ELS Bell, are we.

What makes them so good to work for? I'd like to know how the 'other' Bell operates.


It's just professionalism - they pay on time, they treat professional development seriously, they expect you to be professional and so on. By all accounts, they have absolutely no patience for teachers who aren't serious and dedicated.


Like Shake said, "Obviously, we're not talking about ELS Bell, are we." Sad
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 782
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 9:19 pm    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

I've managed several operations, no big thing.

This career path talk is risible. Cycling to VW on the footpath more like. It's all about money not status. Status is for people who forget to take the coat hangers out of their jackets.
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 533

PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 10:05 pm    Post subject: Re: erm Reply with quote

dragonpiwo wrote:
I've managed several operations, no big thing.


Doesn't exactly take a genius to sort out textbooks and a timetable. Can't imagine there was much else to do in the average sandpit in that respect.

Quote:
This career path talk is risible. Cycling to VW on the footpath more like. It's all about money not status. Status is for people who forget to take the coat hangers out of their jackets.


No amount of money could make up for the mind-crushing tedium of having to get up and teach the same old rubbish day-in day-out. Quite frankly, I'd be bloody depressed if I hit 40 and still had to teach the present perfect on a regular basis, let alone having to do it in a dump of a sandpit in a tinpot African country.
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Post Mortem



Joined: 01 Apr 2014
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 1:11 am    Post subject: Re: erm Reply with quote

delphian-domine wrote:
dragonpiwo wrote:
I've managed several operations, no big thing.


Doesn't exactly take a genius to sort out textbooks and a timetable. Can't imagine there was much else to do in the average sandpit in that respect.

Quote:
This career path talk is risible. Cycling to VW on the footpath more like. It's all about money not status. Status is for people who forget to take the coat hangers out of their jackets.


No amount of money could make up for the mind-crushing tedium of having to get up and teach the same old rubbish day-in day-out. Quite frankly, I'd be bloody depressed if I hit 40 and still had to teach the present perfect on a regular basis, let alone having to do it in a dump of a sandpit in a tinpot African country.


That is, of course, assuming one is actually paid. Horror stories abound...
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