Category Archives: Economics

Job Hunting Ain’t What It Used To Be — Part 5

I’d like to say that May took my employment status from 0 – 60 in 30 seconds flat, but that’s not what happened. Here’s what did–

First, I was hired by a Canadian-based company whose target audience seemed to be immigrants from African countries living in the U.S. and Canada. The interview process was 15 minutes, mostly a sound/video check, and I snagged a 9-10 am beginner class that started the next day. The platform provided basic materials and a general outline for the course, which I could supplement with my own creative wowza stuff, so I was feeling optimistic.

Now, for the downside. Pay. The company paid $50 Canadian dollars per student per month, but only if the student attended all the classes. So since work or other responsibilities kept students from regular attendance, my pay was also affected. For the month May, I earned $14 in total.

Next, I was hired by another company to teach middle-school-aged students. Again, the interview process was painless. I had a Skype call with the hiring person and explained my teaching credentials and living situation. I was under the impression I would help with designing some new curriculum before being given regular classes, but that’s not what happened. I was scheduled for two “trial” classes a day or so after my onboarding process. That means the students were taking a free class to see if they like the platform or not. I was given curriculum to teach, but it was AWFUL! I mean, seriously, it was not appropriate for middle-school non-native English students at all! So I spent an hour at least on each presentation, bringing it up to par, and then an hour teaching each of the students. 

The next week I was scheduled for an Algebra class. Nope! Not gonna happen. It took 3 days of back and forth email correspondence until the class was reassigned. I also seem to be on-call rather than having a set schedule. The company sends me a text message, and if I say I’m available, they schedule it (except for that Algebra class that was assigned to me without checking with me first). I get charged for text messages, and there are a lot of messages sent back and forth, so I’m starting to fret about that. I’ve taught 6 trial classes so far.

Then the third online teaching position I managed to get was for a company that offers practical English skill classes to recent immigrants to the U.S. I was the first person the owner interviewed, and I must have impressed her. She later said she interviewed a few more but decided I was the best candidate for the position and contacted me the next day. This company’s target audience is mostly Middle-eastern immigrants. However, they were looking to expand and offer English for Spanish-speaking refugees and immigrants, which is where I would come in as a sort of liaison for those students since everyone else hired by the company spoke Dari. 

This job came with additional tasks besides teaching, including translating flyers into Spanish and correcting English errors found in company documents. I also had to do a Facebook live video in English and Spanish, which was a bit stressful for me, to say the least. I am only officially contracted to teach one 90-minute class on Sundays July-September, although the owner, who is also a teacher, is expecting a baby any day now and may have me take over her classes. As far as I know, the classes are all Dari speakers, so my Spanish isn’t going to be much use there.

And then, if you remember, I signed up at Wyzant as a tutor and have managed to rack up 6 hours so far in tutoring. Unfortunately, most students have summer vacation in June in the U.S., so tutoring sessions have dried up temporarily. I expect things will gear up in September there again. 

The final teaching job that sprung up was with Cambly, where I applied in March. I’ve been accepted as a tutor rather than teacher, so I don’t have a class schedule. However, they have it set up so I can pick up hours whenever I want. I only get paid for what I teach at 17 cents a minute, but it seems I may be able to get regular students this way too. Of the teaching jobs, this might be the one that works out the best. I don’t have set hours, so if the internet is wonky, I can just not work, no need to find a replacement teacher. If the internet is good, I can pick up more hours. 

I’d also been on the lookout for non-teaching jobs. One of the ladies in the South of the Border Sisters group advertised that they were looking for a social media person for a few hours a month where she worked. So I applied. I got an interview. And I got a contract. It’s not a lot of hours, maybe 10-15 per month, but my hope is there will be more for me to do as the online magazine expands its reach. Right now, I’ll be overseeing social media posts and doing some copywriting. 

Even with 6 jobs, I’m not sure I’ll make enough to pay the internet bill (and feed Bruce). So I’m still living on the edge, so to speak. Let’s see what next month brings! 


Want to know what it’s really like living in rural Mexico? Then check out A Woman’s Survival Guide to Living in Mexico Series.

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Job Hunting Ain’t What It Used To Be — Part 3

Since it was now in the middle of April and had no job on the horizon, I kept applying for different positions on Indeed. I believe my application was rejected by some because I don’t have a TOESL certificate. In lieu of that, I have a Bachelor’s in Science in Education with endorsements in English, Spanish, and ESL. But since I had to check a yes/no box, I had to check no.

Another issue that most likely kicked my application out of review was that I no longer have a valid teaching license. I had two, one from Nebraska and one from the state of Virginia. However, having not lived in the US for over 15 years, those licenses have expired with no way to renew them. Again, the yes/no box foiled my chance to explain the situation.

Some of the jobs had ridiculous expectations that I didn’t have a chance in hell in meeting. One required 50 Mpbs internet speed. Another stated applicants must be South African citizens. With some jobs, the requirements and pay didn’t match up. One position paid $10 an hour, but the applicant must have a Master’s Degree in Education, for example. 

I also tried to figure out what was going on with the internet. It was so bad some days that I couldn’t even fill out online applications. What I discovered is that the company through which we have our internet service discontinued the modems and wasn’t providing further maintance. So we had what we had until the company decided to shut it down completely. 

Looking at other internet options was fruitless. Telcel requires a physical address, which we don’t have in La Yacata. Wifi Moroleon only has coverage to the cemetery, which is where the last light posts are too. A mere 2 kilometers away. Every other company requires a phone line to run the cable, which we don’t have. 

My brother thought he’d be helpful and looked into Starlink for me. HAHAHAHAHA! Not only is it not available in all areas, but the cost is also prohibitive.

In addition, I had some health issues amidst all this stress, or perhaps because of it. My hypothyroidism reared its ugly head, and I went hyper, which resulted in inflamed knee joints, ravishing hunger, and general irritability. I did get blood work done to verify the cause and am working on getting stabilized, but geez, Louise, what a month!


A Woman’s Survival Guide to Living in Mexico Series


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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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