Updated 17/16/2016: This is the last post in a series attempting to demystify the long and often complicated process of applying to teach English in South Korea. We applied to the EPIK program in 2013 and taught for a year until August 2014. While the EPIK program continues to wind down in South Korea, this advice is still good practice for applying for jobs overseas.
I’m ending this series with what went wrong for us during the application process and how you can try and avoid it happening to you.
Lesson 1. Check, check and check again.
The first hurdle in the so far smooth ride to becoming an English teacher was having my university transcripts rejected due to them having been torn. I am still unsure as to how this happened but it meant that I had to order and send off a whole new set, costing me an extra £36 in postage. So when you are sending off all of your documents, make damn sure that everything is perfect.
Lesson 2. If in doubt, start again.
The second hurdle came after our recruiter had approved our documents and sent them off to EPIK. They rejected one of both mine and Oli’s references letters. We had both asked our referees to sign our letters again as at first they had given us letters with printed signatures. I guess something about the fact there were two signatures (albeit the same) on the letters confused the authenticity of them and we were asked to send new ones. I had wondered at the time whether I should have asked my professor to print off a clean copy and sign it, but as he was busy at the time I hadn’t bothered. When it comes to the pernickety ways of the government programs, if you have even the shadow of a doubt then act on that doubt. Everything has to be perfect. Or it will be another £36. Because contacting the referee directly with the contact details provided on the letter is obviously too complicated…(?!)
Lesson 3. Early bird catches the worm.
Now we were pretty darn early with our applications but the above mistakes set us way back and this was the reason that we were all placed with different education offices. If our documents had been processed on time we would have all been placed in our preferred city of Daegu, as Tom was due to no document issues. So, this wasn’t really something we did wrong but it is a vital piece of advice, you know, just in case.
Lesson 4. Be persistent.
When Oli’s contract came through it had the wrong name on it. His father is Italian and so his birth name is Olivier not Oliver, which is what was written on the contract. He immediately contacted our recruited to see if they would send a new contract in order to not have any problems with applying for a visa (everything MUST be perfect). Our recruiter denied sending a new one as he hoped it would be fine. We were doubtful and should have acted on it. Oli’s visa application was rejected and he is now on a major time limit of getting a new contract and applying again at the consulate. Although you should take your recruiter’s advice because they know more about the process than you do, if you feel uncomfortable with a decision you should say so.
And that concludes this series on applying to teach English in South Korea! For now anyways. I may add to this over time if anything else useful comes up.
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