Go figure. In order to stay in China, I first needed to have a job. A job is the key to getting everything you need to stay long-term in China, from your work (Z) visa to your residency permit. No work. No welcome.
I had mixed feelings about job hunting in China. The first thought that crossed my mind was how difficult searching, applying, and interviewing for jobs can be in your own language in your own city. I wondered how on earth I would go about it from halfway around the world?! The second thought that crossed my mind was…if I can’t get at least an English teaching job abroad (after five years of relevant experience), who can?
Empowered by that second thought, I took the most important step in job searching. Starting in late 2008, I began networking. I emailed everyone I knew who was connected to China asking them about their story and asking them to help me make connections. Tian and I even met with a couple who was interested in getting us involved in selling Amway products there. While that did not interest us, some opportunities did, and I followed up.
I also began emailing all of the colleges in Beijing. Several wrote back and said they were not interested in hiring me because I didn’t have a formal teaching license or masters degree; these credentials make the visa processes easier for your host college. Another wrote back and offered me a job with a low salary of about 4,000 RMB ($500) per month. While it left a lot to be desired, I was excited to have at least one way to get to China.
Luckily, this college emailed me their offer right in mid-February right before leaving for an entire month of the Spring Festival vacation. This meant that I had some extra time to keep looking for a better opportunity before accepting this one. It also made me more confident and re-energized my search.
As I mentioned in an earlier posting, a friend named Sarah introduced me to the supervisor at Tsinghua University’s Academic Bridge Program, and I applied for this school year. He and I emailed back and forth, and he asked me to submit a lesson plan for a writing class. I did so and was proud of the result (one of my handouts was a five-paragraph essay about five-paragraph essays). Shortly afterwards, we did a phone interview that lasted about an hour. I had a good feeling about the school and my prospects. Shortly afterwards in late-March, I got the official offer from him, and I accepted. I followed up with the HR Director and we both signed the contract and emailed each other a copy.
Another big step closer to China! Let the paperwork begin…