I get quite a few emails asking me about how I got my job teaching English in Ukraine, so now is as good a time as ever to divulge my lovely bits of insider information. If you happen to be one of those interested in an extended immersion into this former Soviet country, then listen up!
I never thought I would end up in Ukraine, and although my time there was in the murky Ukrainian winter, I am lucky to have had that experience. Without it, I would never have found myself killing time in the Baltic countries before my start date, thus never meeting Patrick! Plus, I now have a special spot in my heart for the Ukrainian people, one that goes beyond the bleak, non-smiling faces to the real soft and caring souls they contain. And, a deep love and respect for vodka as a winter-warming drink.
How I Got the Job
To be honest, during my month-long hiatus at home in August of 2008, I didn’t know what I wanted to do next – return to learn more Russian in Kyrgyzstan or attempt to get a teaching job. My ideal setup was to get a job teaching English in a country that speaks Russian so I could continue learning while also making a bit of money. I frantically took to looking for ways to achieve this, which involved me spending countless hours on the web scouring English language schools in countries like Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. The options that I found – since I didn’t have any classroom teaching experience – were to either work in Russia for no pay except for a small return on lessons or to work with the American English Center in Kiev.
I applied and applied, and eventually I got a response from AEC who then wanted to do a Skype phone interview. I was ecstatic! Oh, the possibilities!
I got word of the offer when I was back on the road.
The Training I Needed for the Job
While I was in Bishkek studying Russian, I had already thought about the possibility of pursuing teaching abroad, so I took an online TEFL course. It definitely is not as good as taking a proper in-the-classroom course, but I thought it would at least give me a bit of an edge over people who had no training whatsoever. Plus, it is heaps cheaper.
Luckily, the job with AEC was open to those with no teaching experience since they offered a bit of training in the beginning and had a fairly decent classroom program planned out.
The Visa I Needed for the Job
This part gets a bit hazy. I was hoping to get my official letter of employment from AEC before I arrived so I could get the proper working visa, but alas, I did not. They told me to come into the country (where I could stay for up to 6 months) and then leave the country on a break to get the proper visa later on. Well, I never got the proper visa (I left before 6 months to go to Australia), and apparently that was okay for the school? We were also paid in cash.
So, as you can see, getting the job was not too much hassle when you consider the lack of teaching experience. But, you also have to consider that Ukraine in the winter isn’t the most desirable destination.
>> Read more about the pay situation at my teaching gig in Ukraine.