Friday, September 21, 2012

Getting Started

I chose to teach in London for the simple reason that it seemed more likely I’d get a permanent position there than here in Canada. I love to teach and, after speaking to the representatives of several school boards from across Canada and several international recruiting agencies, it seemed as though opportunity lay outside our fair lands.

Initially, I applied to three different agencies: ITN, Impact Teachers, and Engage Education. All three began the process with phone calls (they would’ve been Skype interviews but, alas, the tech was against us) with their Canadian coordinators. ITN followed that up with an interview with their UK counterpart. After that their Canadian coordinator requested I provided notarized copies of my passport and proof and address (I couldn’t make their job fair in Toronto so notarized copies was the only way to go), then left on business for awhile. I didn’t want to go to a notary and I never heard from ITN again. Impact Teachers was more involved – they called once a week to ask about my progress on acquiring documents or applying for my visa – but they weren’t willing to provide me with a contract that guaranteed work and salary until after I provided proof of commitment by purchasing airfare. I didn’t want to risk buying airfare for a job that may not come to fruition and then having to pay cancellation fees, so I ended up having to send Impact my regrets. Their response was quite surprising – they expressed regret that I was choosing another agency, congratulated me on finding an agency that met my needs and told me not to hesitate contacting them again if I should change my mind once here or have any questions. It was very nice of them – and they didn’t stop at saying so in an e-mail, they even called to be sure I had received their message and to ask for feedback.

Obviously, this leaves Engage. Their application process was much more…in depth. Following the phone interview, they asked me to send them a five hundred word explanation as to why I was seeking employment in Britain and why I felt their GPS contract was suited to me. After that I had another phone interview with the coordinator’s supervisor who asked me to write up a table of contingency plans for various emergencies or problems that may arise in the classroom. This was followed up by a request to meet in person – the supervisor would be coming to Ottawa so I could meet her there as opposed to going to her office in Toronto. It was after that meeting that I finally got my job offer, complete with contract and a guarantee that I would be working at least four days each week. They even paid for my UK background check (which Impact would not have done) and subsidized a twenty-four hour express Canadian background check. Honestly, once the offer was made and accepted, everything happened so fast I kept feeling like there was some catch – no way it could all be that easy on the paperwork.

But it was.

At some point, my coordinator based in the UK – Craig – touched base, first via e-mail, then on the phone and put me in contact with three other Canadian girls about to come over to teach as well. Tiffany, Dana and Jessica were all recent graduates of Nipissing University and lived in the North Bay area. We agreed to share accommodation and, since they were set to begin work the week before me, they were tasked with finding it.

On September 4th, I bought my plane ticket from Montreal to Heathrow. On September 15th, while Tiffany, Dana and Jessica were flying to Britain, my sister was throwing me a surprise goodbye party under the guise of my uncle’s fiftieth birthday bash. On September 18th, the girls e-mailed saying they had found a place to live but needed my share of the deposit money before they could truly claim it. On September 19th, while I worked, my mom did a mad dash around Vaudreuil to get the money transferred in time. And then, yesterday, I had my very last day of work at Ultramar. Only three days left now before all of this planning finally comes to fruition. Can you say “yikes”?

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