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Case Study: Help Me Get Over to South Korea in 4 Weeks
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Voyeur



Joined: 19 Jun 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 9:15 am    Post subject: Case Study: Help Me Get Over to South Korea in 4 Weeks Reply with quote

Hello. I am a 30-year old Canadian who has worked as a licensed Stock Broker and Investment Advisor in Ontario for the last 3 years. I just left the business recently due to poor market conditions. I have decided to study Law in 2004 and become a securities lawyer. So I have one year in which I need to raise some money and write my LSATs.

Over the years I had saved some money, especially during the boom times where money was plentiful. But convinced that I would be continuing to rake it in forever I stashed all my money into some special and very long-term private investments that I had access to. I am happy with the investments, but it will be another 5 years before I am allowed to access ANY of the money for any reason. So liquidity has become a HUGE problem for me.

My current credit lines are tapped and I run out of money by the end of August. I have set aside $2000 CAD or about $1350 US in a special account. The rest went to pay for my TESOL course, rent a storage locker, and pre-pay my loan and VISA payments until into the middle of September. If I have to I will pawn my furniture and electronic goods but hope to avoid this.

Requirements

This is what I need from the next year:

  • High Speed Internet Connection
  • Use of a Computer (I have one - better to ship it or buy/lease a new one?)
  • Single Residence hopefully within WALKING distance from School (preferably paid for)
  • Large City Area - likely Seoul
  • Air Fare Paid for
  • Pay $400 CAD ($275 US)monthly to cover loans and credit
  • Need to save $10 k (US$) or $15K (CAD$) over one year

Qualifications


  • 3 year Business/Philosophy Degree from Major Canadian University
  • Professional Securities License
  • Canadian Securities Course
  • Have put on many (way too many) information sessions and seminars to clients and business prospects
  • Countless hours in private information meetings with clients teaching them everything from how to write a business letter to what is a debenture to how to get their taxes filed
  • Helped tutor and train new advisors in our branch as they worked towards passing the Canadian Securities Course and getting licensed


I am tall, 6 foot 3, with good physique and short, clean-cut dark brown hair. Apparently looks can have some importance here. I am pretty good looking but mostly in a traditionally white, vanilla Wall Street kind of way and my picture I just had made has me in a business suit and further emphasizes this. I'm not sure if this is good or bad - just providing all the facts in case they matter. Amazing how vanity starts to seem irrelevant when money is on the line.

I have just written up my international resume, I have one great reference letter and the writer is willing to be contacted (he is from Merrill Lynch - a well known firm). I have a hotmail account and a good introduction letter. Having spent 20+ hours on the internet I decided I need to make some quick executive decisions to narrow my search and the Seoul/South Korea combo seemed best but I am open to all possibilities or suggestions. I like to have friends and be able to go out from time to time but can restrain my consumption if required. I must come back with $10k US. I must have a contract before going because I have no monetary cushion to play with. And having paid-for accommodation is also very helpful in eliminating variables that might derail my savings goal.

I am very tolerant and have a very business-like and non-judgemental perspective on things. I will read soup-can labels to my kids if that is what makes the Hogwon director and the parents happy. I don't care about being stared at or yelled at. Coach 400 clients through the stock market crash and you will get a very thick skin. I can party with anyone like it is 1999 or I can geek-out hardcore by becoming a post-school hours hermit spending days on end with just me and the computer. A high-speed connection alone could virtually immunize me from all culture-shock if absolutely necessary. I don't intend to do any travelling other than to find the closest place to write the LSATs. All I want is a job with decent working conditions at a financially stable school. I would like to avoid early-morning hours or crazy split shifts - or at least be able to get out of a lot of them by 6-7 months into the year. But this may be unrealistic. I am willing to do overtime but wish to control it. I would prefer to teach adults but am flexible. I think I could bring a lot to the table in terms of teaching any kind of business English as I have written countless business letters and many elaborate proposals. But I am realistic in that the corporate or business English market is probably very saturated and I am not counting on my business credentials adding much value or allowing me to garner a larger salary, land a better position, or earn extra money from corporate privates. I'm all about the bottom-line, worst-case scenario here and everything else is a bonus - bridges to be crossed when and if I get to them. Frankly, I feel the same way about meeting people and the cultural experience. First and foremost my mission is to secure a new job, show up on time consistently and in 'good condition', and to learn how to perform this job to whatever level of expectations my employer has set- and to then exceed them. Everything else is completely secondary.

My biggest worry is that I have so little cash right now. I understand that usually you do not get paid for 5 weeks and that the arrival airfare is not reimbursed for several months. I also understand that sometimes you can ask in your contract for access to an immediate loan or to have the airfare pre-paid citing your extenuating circumstances. But I wonder if you might only want to bring this up after discussing salary as it reeks of desperation and could definitely encourage a low-ball salary offer. I feel that I should be looking at 2 Million Won/ Month and 30 hours teaching as my minimum but maybe I am off-base. I have a passport but no VISA nor any inoculations. Will shots slow me down or be a problem?

If anyone made it through this post I thank you very much for your patience. I will be trying to find specific answers on other threads and will definitely use shorter posts. I just wanted to put it all together in one place in case any kind souls have any comments, suggestions, or schools they would refer. Any pointers, tips, or remarks of any kind would be helpful as I find that a one month time-frame from idea to arrival involves juggling a lot of different tasks at a time and I definitely might be missing something.
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Trinny



Joined: 01 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am not a teacher so I can't give you any advice as to how to find a job in Korea. However, there are a lot of folks here who recently landed teaching positions in Korea and they might be able to guide you through the job search. You can start by private messaging Kate in Canada for more information. I'll see if she can help you, too.

Just out of curiosity. You are in Ottawa area, right? There are a lot of federal government jobs including short-term ones and business development positions with IT companies that you are qualified for with your current credentials. I am not sure if your little stint in Korea will work to your advantage down the road. I guess 1 year won't hurt, eh?
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Voyeur



Joined: 19 Jun 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for some tips. I'll follow them up to be sure.

This next year doesn't have to build for a carer though. And my credentials don't tend to work so well outside of the retail brokerage area. My BA is still Arts not business with a concentration in administration and one in philospohy. I have applied at the Government and the contracts and jobs being offered to me are all South of $40k Canadian a year. I won't save $1000 a month after taxes on $0K Canadian a year without being a complete Hermit.

Besides, I would like alittle adventure though if I found a net-net significantly better position in the Governement I'd eat my TESOL tuition and stay here I suppose. It is worth looking into again. Thanks.
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briguy



Joined: 01 May 2003
Location: Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Voyeur,

My girlfriend and I are in a very similar situation. We both had well-paying jobs, allowing us to meet our current needs while saving for future goals. However, as the market changed we both lost our jobs and can not find anything locally in Rochester NY that will allow us to "get ahead." So, we have spent beyond 200 hrs researching every possible facet of Job Searching, Living, and Surviving in Korea. Like yourself, I have a bunch of business experience (soft skills, sales and technology training) that I am going to try to leverage into a business english or corporate position. Your assessment of the average wage and savings potential seems accurate. Everything I have found indicates 2 mil won, 30 hrs a week, paid housing and airfare, no weekends and no split shifts is the norm. As you suggested and from what I have gathered appearance plays a large roll in the "advertising and marketing" a Hagwon does of its native english speaking teachers....so from your post you may benefit in this regard.

There are many posts that include savings/costs/expense explanations. Unelss you plan on bringing your wardrobe for the whole year with you, make sure you include in your budgeting the expense of getting handmade shirts/suits and clothes made for you. From what I understand if you are over 6 ft tall you will have trouble finding clothes retail, unelss you are in Itaewon (sp?). Broadband is 40k won a month. A gym is 40k ++++ depending upon the amenities. If you wear a size 10 shoe or greater make sure you bring shoes for the year with you....or you will have to get them made.

If at all possible, you may want to consider borrowing 600$ for a one way trip over there and interview in person for several days, as it will be in your best intersest for many reasons:
-your physical appearance and your business savvy.
-the opportunity to make sure your housing arrangements are comfortable enough not to detract from your productivity.
-A chance to determine the integrity, professionalism, and credentials of your director and Hakwon.
-An ability to speak directly to current teachers...the value of non-verbal communication can say much more then words.....
-Ultimately....use your business savvy and appearance to negotiate a better contract.

This is the course of action my girlfriend and I are taking. We will be in SK in late Sept. to start a one month TEFL cert class in Seoul. During the month of October while getting certified we will be networking to determine the best employment opportunities which we will then interview for in the beginning of November. We plan on spending about a week interviewing and generating some competition for our services before making a decision.

I hope some of this helped...keep in touch and let us know how things work out!!

Brian and Diane
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Voyeur



Joined: 19 Jun 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Brian and Diane,

I could probably find some friendly financing for airfare. But then I would still only have perhaps only$1,250 US tops once I got there - if that. Unless I get either a relocation allowance/assistance package or a relocation loan I am worried about this amount of money be adequate to the task of adjusting to the first 5 weeks of a pre-signed contract situation. Having to stretch this beyond that to cover an exploratory mission as well seems a bit risky. Certainly some upside is there as well. But now I would run the risk of not finding something, losing my money, my borrowed airfare, and possibly being stranded as I would not likely have purchased a return ticket - though I might have to even to get in. This of course makes airfare perhaps more than the $600 you were mentioning. On top of that there is the matter of getting a VISA and how long it will take to get one on my own rather than having the employer do so.

Most importantly, there is the matter of how well one will do in terms of adding value by being in person when they have just gotten to Korea themselves and know no one, have no contacts, and don't know the language. Your solution of doing the TESOL certification in Korea is ingenious in its way. This way you will make contacts during that time and this will help you. But overall it still implies that you are running on a bigger cash cushion than I am. If I had 3-4k US in the bank I'd definitely head down myself and use 1 week to adjust and haunt all the ESL hangouts to meet contacts and then 1-2 weeks to job search. As is I am short on time and money. That being said, perhaps it is worth setting everything up and having my prospective employer agree to pay me for airfare immediatly upon signing BUT to come down and sign in person. This at least gives me the option to bail legally at the last minute if I am being cheated see if I can find a replacement in a few days or worst comes to worst, return home immediately down $1000 but not out a whole year of hellish nightmares. Then I can find some joe job in Canada and go month to month on a super cheap apartment, live like a hermit, and in 3-4 months replenish my "go to Korea" fund and try again.

I'm definitely not sure what to do now. I wish I had more cash. Maybe I should go out and get that joe job now and start adding to my Korea fund while I send out letters. But I should be super picky on anything I feel willing to accept and refuse to pre-sign any contract that I can't get ridiculous numbers of Western references from on both sides of the Pacific. This may take awhile or forever but eventually by working at whatever I do here over the Summer I will have added enough to the "Go to Korea" fund that by October I can then afford to actually go over and do full-blown personal recon mission even if I haven't found that perfectly referenced job online yet. As well, by that time I can also have properly read about ESL on the internet logging in the kinds of hours that you have and made online contacts that I can check schools with etc... If I go now I'll be hard pressed to trully double and quintuple check any school as I'll be so short of time and have no contacts or online friends to help me.

Yep. Confusion and indecision has set in. But the more I read the more it seems that one can be short of cash and long on time or long on cash and short on time but being short on both and rushed/desperate to come over to the point that you almost have to sign a contract on this end makes you the sleezy Hogwon Director's dream and also totally shortchanges any "soft" assets that one has. It seems that only "hard" assets and qualifications will get you any play from this side of the Ocean and that for your business savvy, looks, comportment, etc... to add anything to your salary you have to show up in person BEFORE signing.

Maybe I would be better off waiting until I have 3-4K US$ that I can risk on this investment and the time to do it properly rather than rushing in without time to research, double check things, make contacts, etc... It seemed so ideal but now I am starting to think that like all Gold rushes the event matures to the point where many who do their homework can still do as well as their forerunners but the average guy that comes screaming out of thye east up to the gold hills with nothing but a pan will get screwed. That is exactly what happened in '49 and in the Klondike. But then again I've always been a risk taker...we'll see.

Thanks again for the advice. Maybe I'll see you there.

Wyatt
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kylehawkins2000



Joined: 08 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most hogwans in Korea will serve your needs. Try putting up a post on the jobs wanted section and you will receive lots of offers via email.

Otherwise start applying to jobs that are posted on this site. Be clear that you want to come right away and will give preference to places that will pay for air fare in advance.

Good luck!

Kyle
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kylehawkins2000



Joined: 08 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PS. You can get a tourist visa at the airport if you are a Canadian citizen. Enter on that visa and many schools will pay for a trip to Japan to have your E2 visa issued after the paperwork is taken care of.

As far as shots go, don't sweat it. There are none that are legally required for entrance into the country.
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Voyeur



Joined: 19 Jun 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm aware tha once I start e-mailing and posting I will get lots of offers. And even in a short time I can double check many of them in many ways.

But bottom line Kyle, is that it would be easier and cheaper and safer in most ways to sign my contract on this end so that my air fare can be paid in advance etc.... BUT safe is not safe if it turns out they are a nightmare that I could have avoided by meeting them personally. Do you recommend using the tourist VISA and double-checking / negotiating in person before signing or signing over here? What kind of verification would you require before signing from Canada rather than visiting first?
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Son Deureo!



Joined: 30 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While you're right that you have a much better chance of getting a job with reasonable conditions by coming over here, knocking on doors, and meeting your co-workers to be, it sounds like you don't have enough cash on hand to make that a realistic option. While $1350 is more than enough money to bring with you assuming that you already have a job waiting for you in Korea, you're taking a big risk coming here with that amount money if you don't know when your next paycheck will be. Remember that even after you find your job, you'll still most likely have to wait 4-5 weeks before your first paycheck.

If it were me, I wouldn't come over here to do a job search without at least $3000 on hand.

It sounds like you do have options in your home country that will allow you to stay home and save a little money before you come. If you can do that, and then come over with a bigger nest egg that would probably be your best chance of getting a good job.

If not, you'll have to take a gamble by applying for your job over the internet. If you can, you should try to get at least one reference from a current teacher and one from a former teacher. This will not always be possible. I doubt that most schools bother to keep in touch with their former teachers, and you can't always trust current teachers as they may be lying to you in order to find a replacement so they can get out of a bad situation.

I'm not trying to scare you, but there is a certain level of risk to this business that you just can't avoid no matter how much research you do. Then again, it sounds like you already know plenty about risk and reward, right? Wink Despite all the horror stories, I'd say that at least nine times out of ten people who come into these jobs blind from overseas still wind up in situations that are liveable and still let you save the $10k you're looking for.

I admire your diligence, and it sounds like you have a realistic attitude and expectations. I have feeling you're going to land on your feet here no matter how you decide to come here.

A few more bits of advice:

- Bring your computer with you, especially if it's a laptop. It sounds like you're pretty dependent on having ready access to the net.

- Try to avoid kindergarten if you can. Not only is it more stressful than trying to deal with older students, it also tends to lead to a very long day with split shifts.

- If you're lucky, you might be able to get a job teaching adults, but that usually requires an exhausting day with even worse split shifts.

- Since this is only going to be a temporary gig for you, and it sounds like you care more about money than experiencing the culture, you're probably going to want to teach illegal privates. This is where the real money is to be made in Korea. This will also be where your business skills and business English will probably come in most handy in Korea, not your day job.

- You may have already known this but in case you didn't, let me make it clear. If you are coming over here with a job that you secured from your home country, "airfare reimbursement" shouldn't even be an issue. If your plan is to come to Korea for exactly one year, and go straight back home after your contract is over, get a roundtrip ticket in your name in your hands. If you think you may want to travel to other parts of Asia at the end of your contract, then you may have to live with getting a one way ticket from your boss and trusting him to give you your ticket home at the end of the year. Most airlines don't seem to want to give roundtrip tickets that are good for any longer than a year.

Best of luck to you, Voyeur, and if I can help you any further, feel free to PM.
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kylehawkins2000



Joined: 08 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My advice is based on your 4-week deadline. Running in that sort of time frame limits your options. If you can afford to buy a ticket yourself and have enough money to survive for a month (I'd say $1000Can min since you'll have to pay for accomodations) you could probably find a better position by coming here first. I would think that two weeks would be lots of time to find a number of places, consider their offers and get to work. If you start in the middle of the month you will be paid half a months salary on the 10th day of the following month. Many places will give you a reasonable size advance on your pay.

There are numerous posts on what to look for in your first contract. Do a search.

I'd give you some pointers but I'm a little short on time at the moment.

GOod luck,

Kyle
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Voyeur



Joined: 19 Jun 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Son Deureo!!

Looks like you and I are in agreement on the risk/reward equation.

I think that even if it is more sensible I am not going to wait. Therefore I also agree that I don't have the resources to come down in person. So I am going to do my best with lining up a contract online first and chhecking up on it. I got my TESOL thru a reputable school with extensive contacts and that should be helpful.

But I understand the risk for sure. That being said, why does ones inclination to do Privates have any relation to how long one wants to stay? If you get busted you get fined, your Korean earnings seized (hence send them home constantly), deported and black marked for a few years. So yeah, if you planned on staying you lose the ability to come back but really the fine and seizure and loss of the remaining year are pretty much equally horrific either way. I'm not sure how I feel about them and the risk. I think that only when I have enough money saved at home to extricate myself properly and afford a ticket home and to start up somewhere else with will I try Privates (probably 6 months in). I figure I need to be in a place where getting busted, no matter how remote, won't destroy me.
Kind of like how in the stock market I'd never let clients invest money they couldn't afford to lose.

Could you explain this airfare reimbursement issue? Are you saying that I can press for and get my round trip ticket pre-paid as opposed to just a one-way? If so I'm all over that.
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Voyeur



Joined: 19 Jun 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kylehawkins2000 wrote:
My advice is based on your 4-week deadline. Running in that sort of time frame limits your options. If you can afford to buy a ticket yourself and have enough money to survive for a month (I'd say $1000Can min since you'll have to pay for accomodations) you could probably find a better position by coming here first. I would think that two weeks would be lots of time to find a number of places, consider their offers and get to work. If you start in the middle of the month you will be paid half a months salary on the 10th day of the following month. Many places will give you a reasonable size advance on your pay.

There are numerous posts on what to look for in your first contract. Do a search.

I'd give you some pointers but I'm a little short on time at the moment.

GOod luck,

Kyle


So you feel that if I can afford a return ticket and then have say $1250 CAD in cash that even with my 4 week time limit I would do better coming over and landing a job in person than I would setting up one on the internet and signing over here?
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rapier



Joined: 16 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Voyeur: "I'm a fancy lawyer with millions stashed away, but, oh s**t I've made a mistake,.. oh my ***, Korea rescue me, I'll do anything, just keep me off the streets. Ok, I'll try teaching, anybody can teach, right? Its so easy, but none of that hard work kiddy b.s. I want adults!! But as soon as my massive investments clear, I'll say byeeee!"
You're really a great proposition, aren't you?
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Voyeur



Joined: 19 Jun 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rapier wrote:
Voyeur: "I'm a fancy lawyer with millions stashed away, but, oh s**t I've made a mistake,.. oh my ***, Korea rescue me, I'll do anything, just keep me off the streets. Ok, I'll try teaching, anybody can teach, right? Its so easy, but none of that hard work kiddy b.s. I want adults!! But as soon as my massive investments clear, I'll say byeeee!"
You're really a great proposition, aren't you?


Sounds about right although I wouldn't say Korea is exactly a 911 rescue but it seemed like the best fit for a throwaway year.

And where was it written that I have to be the world's most altruistic soul dedicated to a life long pursuit of teaching for its own sake in order to do a good job? I never said teaching ESL is easy. I just feel that if I can pull down 80-100 hour weeks at a brokerage for extended sessions then I can probably, in tme, manage to adjust to 30 hour teaching weeks. Trust me, I'd take 80 hours at the brokerage over 80 teaching hours for sure. So hour for hour I wouldn't say teaching is necessarily easier than what I have done before.

Thanks for the kind remarks and useful hints Rapier. The board needs more helpful posters like yourself.
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Voyeur



Joined: 19 Jun 2003

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2003 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kyle,

I gt PMed by someone who insisted I read these two posts - I'm sure you probably have as well.

http://www.eslcafe.com/jobinfo/asia/sefer.cgi?display:1023830668-23234.txt

http://www.eslcafe.com/jobinfo/asia/sefer.cgi?display:1037829356-14201.txt

I'm starting to wonder if I have not underestimated the risk in Korea and hence the real need to see the place BEFORE signing up at all costs because even then there is risk - without doing so may be crazy. Perhaps this is why others have even suggested putting off my coming down and working odd jobs here until I can get enough money to properly do the advance reconnaissance tour.

If anyone has read thse has any comments I'd appreciate it. I'm getting a little worried now that signing ANYTHING in Korea without either having seen it all myself or having RIDICULOUS amounts of second-hand testiomonials and references is just insane. These two posts scared me. I thought I was being fairly level headed about the risks here but now I feel that maybe I am not.
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