Category Archives: Economics

Job Hunting Ain’t What It Used To Be — Part 2

After the first three job hunting strikeouts, I went to Indeed for some leads.

I applied to a company that focuses on improving non-native speakers’ American accents. In preparation, they sent me several links to watch videos about pronunciation. Then, I had a Zoom interview with a lovely Eastern European teenager with braces sitting in front of a sparkly shower curtain. My internet decided to act up, as it has been for the past few weeks, and the upload speed during the speed test was only 4.6 Mbps instead of the 10 Mbps it’s supposed to be. The teenager informed me they required a minimum of 5 Mbps. A few days later, I received an email that informed me that I did not get the position. 

Since I was on a roll, I decided to tackle a video interview requested by an online teaching platform based in Costa Rica. The video requests for this company were pretty specific. I needed to wear my favorite color shirt and have some music playing in the background while I answered questions about how I handled certain situations that came up in class. I chose to have Meatloaf playing on Spotify while I talked, and for most of the time, it was ok. But Meatloaf being the exuberant performer he was, started belting it out, and it was distracting, to say the least.

I expect this requirement was to test the noise-canceling capabilities of my microphone. Anyway, it must have been good enough because about a week later, I received an email to teach a demo class with the materials and a few links to watch. 

And here we get to what I’ve been struggling with about this whole job-hunting process. Back in the day, I would turn in an application. If I seemed like a potential candidate, the company called me to set up an appointment for an interview. If, after said interview, they were satisfied with my credentials/answers/availability or whatever, then I began training. After a training period, which varied from job to job, I was set to work.

But these days, all of the places I’ve applied wanted me to teach a class, and THEN they’ll see if my credentials/answers/availability match up. So in effect, I have to train myself, unpaid, mind you, and if I am just as good as the teachers they already have, I’m hired. If not, so sorry. 

Anyway, I taught the demo class but ran into some technical difficulties that left me flustered. I didn’t know how to share a video on Zoom. So I know my demo class wasn’t my best effort. After that class, I had a short feedback session with someone from the company who pointed out where I could improve. Then taught ANOTHER demo class. I finally heard back from them. They decided to go with another applicant because I didn’t have enough rapport with the student. Yeah, ok.

A third company that I managed to score an interview with at first seemed promising. I met with the founder via Zoom, and we chatted about their philosophy and all that. Then the next step was to observe a class and then teach a demo class with provided materials. At this point, I had a bit of a panic attack or something. In addition to feeling out of my depth because the class would be in Spanish rather than English, and I haven’t taught Spanish in over 15 years, the hours seemed extraordinarily complicated. I would be teaching three two-hour grammar classes during the week. Then on Saturdays, I would teach a conversation class. Two evenings a week, I would hold “office hours” virtually where anyone could drop in. Then every month, there were mandatory teacher training and language events. 

All of these were at set times. As you know, my internet can be a bit wonky, and there have been times when I’ve had to cancel classes because of it. With this company, that didn’t seem like a possibility. There was also the pay setup. It wasn’t an hourly wage but a set amount after completing an eight or 12-week course. I would be expected to teach not one but at least two maybe more different classes (each of which met three times a week) plus Saturday and office hours per 8 or 12-week session. I would need to adapt the materials and provide feedback for all students as well. That totaled up to a whole lot of hours per week, and my internet just can’t be relied on for that many hours.

Anyway, I backed out of that demo class with apologies and withdrew my application.

***

A Woman’s Survival Guide to Living in Mexico Series

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Job Hunting Ain’t What It Used To Be — Part 1

I’ve been struggling with finding online work for about a month now, and I’ve discovered that job hunting ain’t what it used to be. I thought I’d share my efforts.

First, how did I come to be suddenly unemployed? Well, the first week of March, the online teaching company that I have been working for since 2016 informed me that even though I have a contract until May, I would need to transition to a company based in Hong Kong if I wanted to keep working for them. 

When I received the notification, the ridiculousness of the new company’s name prompted me to send in an inquiry to verify it was legitimate. It was. Then I sent another query to clarify the information. Since I teach from Mexico, the company I work for classified me as an international contractor. I was informed that all international contractors must make the transition before the end of March. The contract I had with them that was valid until May would not be honored.

I did not feel that the transition was in my best interest. After all, last year, without any warning, the Chinese government closed ALL online teaching platforms that hired teachers outside of China, leaving thousands of digital nomads scrambling to find another source of income. There’s also the state of the world at the moment. The dominant world powers, including China, are poised for some major changes. I did not want my livelihood so dependent on that.

I realized that the schools that I’ve been setting up on Teachable wouldn’t be income generating for another six months or more, so I’d have to find another source of income in the meantime. I literally took a page out of my own book (A Woman’s Guide to Making a Living in Rural Mexico: How to Find A Job and Create the Life You Want) and started looking.

I applied at three online teaching/tutoring platforms the day I got the notification of the looming transition, Cambly, italki, and Wyzant. I also set up an alert on Indeed for teaching jobs and polished up my resume. 

Cambly and Italki needed an intro video even before they considered my application. The room that I teach in is quite dark, so I moved everything upstairs and had my son help me with the microphone and setup. After about an hour, I managed to make two one-minute videos. 

Cambly responded by telling me the video was too dark. So I spent several more hours giving it another go. My poor son had to hold the blue screen behind me, take after take. The video was rejected again. I gave it one more go. This time I took down the blue screen and recorded the video with just the cream wall behind me. Personally, I thought the blue screen recording was better, but I didn’t know what else to try. To avoid seeing the bed in the room that is normally hidden behind the blue screen, I sat on a book so I’d be higher and could tilt the camera up. I thought if a pillow helped my mom see out the front windshield of her car, the same trick would work in this situation. 

I also decided to try for Cambly kids. That application required doing a teaching demo. So I taught shapes and colors as if I were teaching to an imaginary 7-year-old student that I called Diego. I’ve taught so many kids’ classes that it wasn’t too hard. The demo class was over 7 minutes, but I only did one take. I used Canva to share both the screen and my head in a floating bubble. I’m still waiting to hear back from Cambly.

Meanwhile, Wzyent approved my application to tutor through their site. You can see my profile here. The process is a bit different than I’m used to. Potential students post to a job board, and I need to express my interest in working with them. They, in turn, will check out my profile and give me the yea or nay. 

However, the first potential student wasn’t allowed by Wzyent, probably because the person wanted to meet outside of the platform. So that was a bummer. The second student expressed interest but never followed through. The third student set up a lesson for which he failed to appear and canceled the subsequent lesson. So Wzyent isn’t going so well. They offer FREE tutoring if you use this link to book a lesson with me, but I’m not really sure how that works.

Italki expected a professional quality video. One of the video examples was from this Italian dude, some of which was filmed while he was walking around the streets of Italy. While I could certainly walk around Moroleon and add that section to a video, the camera on my phone wasn’t very good quality. So I worked with what I had.

My first attempt was rejected due to the low-quality recording. So I ordered a new webcam. When it arrived, I tried again. Italki declined my application anyway. But now I had a new camera, and maybe it would increase the odds in my favor.

***

Practical guides for living in Mexico!

A Woman’s Survival Guide to Living in Mexico Series

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A Woman’s Guide to Making a Living in Rural Mexico: How to Find A Job and Create the Life You Want

If you remember, approximately 40 days ago, give or take a few days, I signed up for Leonie Dawson’s course 40 Days to a Finished Book. Well, guess what? I finished a book!

I’m pleased to announce that A Woman’s Guide to Making a Living in Rural Mexico: How to Find A Job and Create the Life You Want is available for preorder on Amazon! From now until July 14, it is available for $2.99 pre-order. Amazon has mixed things up and you need to click on the “Other sellers & formats” in order to see the sale price. Once you click there, you’ll see “New from $2.99.” Your ebook will be automatically delivered to your Kindle on July 14, after which the price will go up.    

The reviews from those lucky ladies who received an advanced review copy are better than I could have dreamed of. 

“This is like a primer on Mexico!! It’s a ONE stop guide to being successful/surviving Mexico. It’s an entire course. School is in session!” From Roxana Bangura of the Bangura Institute.

“I haven’t finished yet but so far, I LOVE IT!!! I’m learning some things I didn’t know. I’ve been taking notes.” from Margret Ruiz of Margret Ruiz Photography.

If you weren’t already aware, A Woman’s Guide to Making a Living in Rural Mexico: How to Find A Job and Create the Life You Want is the sixth book in the series A Woman’s Survival Guide to Living in Mexico. I have at least two more books planned in the series.   

As you can see from the latest book, my mission continues to be to provide valuable information to women who have moved to Mexico so that they can create a fulfilling life despite the obstacles. So here’s my call to action for you! I’m positive that there is at least one book in this series that would benefit you personally, or a woman you love. If you would share this post (or a direct link to the series) on your social media networks, I would be exceedingly grateful (as will the women who benefit from my humble writing efforts).

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