Travel Stories

A travel blog for a long-term expat, backpacker, traveler, ESL teacher, and photographer. 

Applying to Work in Korea

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Applying to EPIK in Korea...What a ridiculously lengthy process. What a waiting game. I can't say how stressed I was. As I've read, it is the stupidest process for Americans and I wasn't an exception. First, you have to find a decent recruiter. One should read reviews/recommendations on forums and various websites and then one has to fill out an application with them. I chose Korean Horizons. Then you must tell your recruiter when you want to/can start your job and she/he shows you options. I chose to do the official public school national program, EPIK. Now if you want to apply to a hagwon (private academy), you also will use a recruiter. Note that Korean Horizons is only for public schools. You can find a wide array of recruiters off of the Korean Job Board at Dave's ESL Cafe.So the process: First, you must do the initial application for EPIK which obviously includes filling in personal details (even your weight. I gave myself a kilo or two leniency  :X), a personal essay, and a detailed lesson plan based on the level you are applying for. This is typical and expected of such a job so no complaints on this front.

Next, you receive a scheduled time for your EPIK interview where you are asked questions via Skype and this led to sweaty palms and lots of nervousness. My recruiter gave me a long list of questions that were likely to be asked and every question that was asked of me was on that list.

Next, you are offered or rejected -> in my case, accepted if my documents are gathered in time.

Now, here comes the lengthy process and my giant rant.

The first step for everyone should be the background check as this takes a ridiculous amount of time. You have to go to your local police station and have your fingerprints taken to be put into the official American database - my first time doing this ever.

Of course, at the time, I was in Istanbul. This was also at the time of the protests so the police didn't have the best international appearance at the time. Because of this, however, they were very welcoming. I walked into the police station and found a lady walking around and because nobody spoke English in this place, it was time to use my second language - body-language! I showed her my fingers and pretended to make fingerprints in the air. She pointed at the stairs. I went up the stairs, into the first office I saw, and waited behind two men doing something with fishing poles. What the hell? In a police station? Whatever, I didn't care at this point. After waiting 20 minutes, they said no, no, and pointed up. So, again, up the stairs and I found someone who pretended he spoke English ( a lot like the English policeman trying to be French in Allo' Allo' ) and showed me into his office. The process was fairly easy and they even offered me some cay (tea) afterwards. They then decided it would be a good idea to ask me, "So what are you opinion on the protests?" Of course I got red faced and tried to get out of any conversation relating to this and I made an excuse to leave.

So I got my fingerprints abroad, went to the post office, and sent them home with regular post. It took about 2 weeks. My father then mailed in my fingerprints with a pre-paid return envelope and we played the fun waiting game. la la la la la la. What? 6 weeks? I love waiting! I called after three weeks to the FBI in West Virginia and Mr. Redneck Employee answers, "Oh sawry ma'am. We haven't even opened up your letter yet. You can call after four weeks if you want to hear about your progress. Have a good day." JESUS. YOU HAVEN'T TOUCHED IT? The availability of my job depends on this and you're sitting around answering the phone. As Sweet Brown would say, "Ain't nobody got time for" people like you!!

As I am playing the background check waiting game, I needed to get started on the second step, getting my Bachelor diploma notarized. I had to pay my university $5.00 and get them to send me my official notarized copy. Of course this took longer than the promised two business days because Jessica of the Graduation Services is having a busy week. Literally, I called her up and said, "Have you sent out my copy yet?" She said, "Oh! Sorry. We're busy, I'll do it first thing in the morning." Seriously? It was that simple that you could do it easily in the morning? Well thanks Jessica for your hard work. You're one more factor preventing me getting a job.

In the beginning of August my background check arrived to my dad's house. Cool. Finally!!!! You're too late wenches, EPIK already told my recruiter that all spots are full! Thanks for leaving me unemployed through the Autumn/Winter until the next round- February. Yeah cool. Thanks FBI, Thanks Jessica.

So now I had to discuss my possibilities with my recruiter - the only person I cannot complain about in this entire rant. He told me that I can go directly through the local education offices and skip over EPIK and by doing that, I can get a job in November/December. Well that was at least a better option than waiting until February, right? Now, if I want to go in February, I have to redo my background check because it is only valid for six months and it would expire in the beginning of February and the start date for Korea is the end of February. Fucking fantastic. Okay, fine, EPIK, I give up on you! Local education offices it is!

So, let's continue this fun process of the application.

Now, you need to send the background check you JUST got back from the FBI and mail it to the national authentication service to get apostilled. An apostile is a raised seal that proves the document's authenticity. Anyways, one more waiting game and god forbid that document gets lost in mail. This whole process makes a lot of sense in the most sarcastic way possibly said. Yeah, let's take this official document that was just given to me by the FBI with the official FBI signatures and then lets get that double verified. Hmm.

I started the process in May. MAY! It is September in two days. Holy jesus.

ANYONE, if you're applying to a job in Korea - do this lengthy process early-on, even before you apply for EPIK. Apply for your background check 6 months before (so it'll be released about 5 months before the start date) and get on this process. Yes, it IS possible to do this shit while you're abroad as long as you have someone helping you along the way in the United States. Yes, you'll pay a lot of random fees and postage.

@.@ is how I feel and how I've felt during this entire process. Just to get back to Korea. My first country I ever traveled to and I have a special connection with. So, as it seems, the end of November/the beginning of December, I will be in Korea with my first real job.

Anyways, UPDATE:

I am now in Korea.

These are the steps:

Step One: Fingerprints on an official FBI card and then apply for a background check. Step Two: Send background check to the authentication service office for apostille. Step Three: Get your BA uni to send certified copies of your transcripts and a notarized copy of your diploma. The notarized copy of your diploma then goes to the secretary of state for an apostille. Just google apostille services and your state name. I made the mistake of sending my diploma copy to DC with the background check and I got it returned. Step Four: Get your references. Step Five: Get your passport photos taken. You'll need a bunch of them. Two for your application, one for your visa, one for your alien card when you arrive, so just get a pack of them as they are always useful.

An e-mail I got from my recruiter:

1. A notary public notarized copy of your Bachelor diploma with an apostille (http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/authen/.) Bachelor degrees issued in any language other than English must have a notarized English translation.  The original Bachelor is no longer accepted. 2. Signed application epik form which should include your essay & lesson plan - I don't need you to send the additional material that went with the lesson plan. 3. Two sets of university transcripts in sealed university envelopes for your Bachelor. 4. Two original reference letters with modifications requested. 5. Countrywide original criminal background check which has been notarized for the entire USA (please request part 8 as well of the FAQs) (http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/fprequest.htm) with an apostille which should be processed through the federal state (http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/index.htm) but if you get it notarized in your state - then you can have it apostilled in your state. 6. One passport size picture.

For the visa you need: Resume University transcripts in a sealed envelope for your Bachelor Consular checklist Self-medical report Notice of appointment & employment contract Passport, copy of passport page, passport size picture, completed visa application form (attached), $45USD fee (money order only or cash in person) Self-addressed pre-paid envelope if required