If you’re sick of the rat race wheel, you might be spending maaaaaany hours falling down internet rabbit holes looking for a way out.
I graduated with a degree in Communications and big plans of becoming an event planner and/or PR big wig. Turns out I did not love the rush hour traffic, mid afternoon crash, or the clingy relationship I had to have with the media to do well in those jobs.
Here I am, 10 years after college, teaching kids (who don’t speak English as their first language and live on the other side of the world. That is not what I went to school for or what my plan was.
Interesting twist, indeed.
I had seen VIPKid mentioned in several circles, on several different discussion boards for the last year or two at least. Up until about six months ago, I had refused to even apply because I didn’t think I could handle the hours.
I was feeling a bit desperate trying to find something to balance the whims of selling thrifted things on eBay, so I decided to give it a shot. As it turns out, I LOVE IT.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about giving it a try (or even if you don’t think it’s for you — because I didn’t):
*You must have a Bachelor’s degree and some kind of experience with kids (I have friends who have little kids and that’s my experience)
*You must live in North America (USA/Canada)
*You sign a 6 month contract that automatically renews without any additional interviews, etc. if you are in good standing
*The interview process is constantly evolving it seems but you will complete a brief questionnaire, and either record a video of yourself teaching part of a provided lesson and/or do this with a VIPKid senior teacher/advisor who will either grant your admission or give you critiques and you’ll have to teach a mock class again.
*You will need to create an educational backdrop for your “classroom” (You can see mine here)
*The classes are one-on-one and you can certify to teach additional levels with different levels of English speech. Currently, as a new teacher you are hired in as certified in levels 2/3. (I was only hired in at level 2, but this has recently been changed).
*The hours — Beijing is 12 hours ahead of my time zone (EST). So their peak hours for classes (7-9pm) are 7-9 am for me. This means that my alarm goes off at 5:30 so that I can shower (and come alive) in time to prep for my classes.
*These hours also require me to go to sleep at the same time I went to sleep when I was in middle school (9:30 pm)
*The students’ parents book you (not a computer auto filling slots). This means that you have to develop report with students in order to have regular students who book you consistently (this happens organically though- you just click with some people, these kids included). This can take some time to build. I didn’t get my first class booked for nearly 2 months.
*The students take very serious exams during the month of June and into July. School is just now beginning to let out in different areas of China and bookings have screeched to an alarmingly low rate.
*Teacher No Shows (TNS) are considered a very big deal. You are only allowed 6 per contract and you could be dismissed after that. You are also penalized by being docked your class pay (less than 24 hours before class) or partial class pay (2-24 hours before class) if you do not cancel more than 24 hours ahead of time.
*Sometimes you get a kid that just doesn’t want to participate/is difficult to work with
That being said, I think the pros outweigh the cons:
*The big one: YOU SET YOUR OWN HOURS (Of course booking during their peak period hours gets you more bookings =more money and incentives, but if you want to take next week off – you can. There’s nobody to confirm it with, you just don’t open slots).
*Aside from June-July and a couple of other holidays throughout the year (Chinese New Year was a big one in January), the students are very ambitious and book classes several days a week. Once I got my first bookings, I continued to get more every week and was averaging 4-6 a day (I personally open 6 slots each day)
*While the getting up at 5:30 is tough, I LOVE being able to finish up by 10:00 am. It’s like the day is just starting.
*It pays me $20 an hour to teach from my own home in my pajamas
*There are also PPT (peak period times) challenge/incentives emailed from the company each month to earn additional bonuses.
*You can teach from wherever as long as you have a strong internet connection (although if it’s a spotty connection and deemed to be coming from your side, your class could result in a ‘Teacher IT’. You don’t get dinged like a Teacher No Show, but you don’t get paid either). There is an option to teach from your computer or an iPad.
*The Support team typically responds to help tickets in under 24 hours
*There is a large Facebook Community called VIPKid Google Slides Group that will teach you how to access a HUGE database of digital props/reward systems to use in class that drastically cuts down on prep time for each class.
*If you meet the raise criteria, you qualify for a raise when you sign your 3rd contract (so at the 1 year mark).
*95% of the students are ADORABLE and try so hard
*You only have to deal with the other 5% for 25 minutes and then you can move on.
*It’s the BEST when they have the aha! moment and understand what you’re trying to teach them.
*This gig really offers that ‘I’m doing something meaningful’ piece that none of my other jobs have been able to give me.
I’ll admit that I struggled pretty hard the first few months with waking up at 5:30. Plenty of people in the world do it, but I’m more of an 8:30-9:00 person. If this is you too, learn from my struggles and go to bed before 10:00 pm and snooze 1 time, not multiple times. I felt infinitely better once I started doing both of these things together.
I am personally not a huge kid person and yet I’m amazed every day that I get to call this work and get paid well for it…. and that I genuinely enjoy it.
The most important part of choosing this type of work is that I never dread the work day like I always did with all of my other jobs. If you’re looking for that feeling too, this might be the thing for you as well.
If I sold you on teaching with VIPKid, I’d love it if you signed up with my referral code: LAURE0801. (I believe you get through the hiring stages more quickly if you use a current teacher’s referring code, but I’m not positive. It does help to have a coach through it though.)
If you have any questions about VIPKid, the hiring process, etc. please feel free to reach out and I’d be happy to tell you what I know.