I am going to describe in this blog the initial contact, the interview process, and the pre-demo training session for DaDaABC, a Chinese company that I have interviewed for and my overall opinion. I will also add a few tips and pointers for those readers who might be coming here seeking such things.
DaDaABC is not the only Chinese company offering this type of work to English-speaking teachers who want to teach Chinese children via the Internet from home. You are contracted by these companies to teach short ESL lessons on their platform. What they are looking for is the following:
You have to be at least 18 years old.
You have to be what they consider a “native English speaker.” I believe they will make some leeway here.
Your English must be fluent and impeccable and there are requirements regarding your current citizenship that you really cannot get around.
I believe they prefer if you have had a college education or are pursuing a college degree or “certificate” as they put it. That I know of, an associates degree would certainly be acceptable.
Your degree does not have to be in Early Childhood Education! It can be in pretty much anything, I imagine. What they want to hear is that you have had experience with kids, have worked with kids, or have taught, and they want to hear that you have had experience with very young kids especially.
You will be expected to upload your degrees and documentation after the interview. I was asked to scan in .pdf. Actually, I believe I may have forgotten and scanned in .bmp format instead, but they did receive my documents and we went ahead with the next step.
Let me back up for those of you that might be wondering about the initial steps. They have an application form on their website. I have seen many such forms on company websites and theirs is typical. You don’t have many fields to fill in. I believe it is all done on one single page and then, you submit. I believe you upload your resume and state you are legal to work.
I noticed on the form that you cannot submit the form without a picture of yourself. Unfortunately this is the case. I am not certain how legal this is.Since they hire in my country, USA, I believe they have to respect our hiring laws. My concern is not over skin color but I know many would be concerned. I knew right away that the pic would give away my age. I am 60. I could pass for 40, but still……. Knowing that this was not legal, I wondered what would happen if I uploaded a picture of my dog, or a landscape picture, just to get around the pic issue. I toyed with the thought of scanning an old picture of myself at 23. Now, I really have to laugh because I doubt they’d have even noticed. Read on.
For those of you who may be concerned, there was no statement about “criminal background check” nor did they ask any questions like that. I am making this statement because I support the Ban the Box movement and I also sympathize with those who have survived the penal system. If you are an ex-felon, take note: This just might be your chance to get back on your feet again! However, if you are still on probation, check to make sure that working for a foreign company is okay according to the terms of your probation.
What about those of you who may never have had teaching experience? Here is my suggestion! You may still be able to teach for DaDaABC or similar company IF you love children and if you have had experience working with children in your life at some point.
Now here you must use what I call your Thinking Cap. Common sense, creativity, and a little ingenuity all rolled up into one. Using your power of memory, look back on your life and remember a time you spent with children. Did you ever do volunteer work? What about sports? Did you ever lead a group of children in a sporting event, or work as a team leader or mentor? Did you ever coach a team, or lead children in games such as checkers or Monopoly? Did you ever volunteer to read stories to children, or watch your neighbor’s kids, or supervise toddlers on a playground?
Now all this, all this wonderful life experience, this is so valuable right now and you can use this as your kid experience. What you need to do is tell the recruiter very specific information. How old were the kids? How many? Describe the details. How long were the classes or groups? What did you like or dislike, and how would you have changed the experience if you could have? Did you have a favorite class you taught or favorite lesson you loved? The recruiter is likely to ask about the children’s ages, so be prepared to answer this.
The interview is done over Skype. I submitted my application in the middle of the weekend and I was contacted at the end of the weekend, I believe Monday morning, Beijing time. I picked up the email Monday morning my time, early. Right away (after I walked my dog and fixed up my hair) we had the interview, at 18:30 Beijing time, which was 6:30am Daylight Savings Time Eastern (New York) Time. The difference is 12 hours, in case you are wondering.
That I know of, the interview lasted 10 minutes, no more. Now I thought I would mention that the very first question was “How old are you?”
Yes, I was floored. Yikes. I answered but I was not too happy about this, having dealt with age discrimination you young folk will not have to deal with till you are 55 or so. Not yet! (When you get to 55 you will nod and smile and say, Oh my goodness, wow, that lady blogger was right!) Asking “Are you old enough to legally work? is okay. Asking your age is not legal in the USA!
Now at this point, I had to repeat….Sixty. She repeated it…I suppose wanting to make sure I had not said “sixteen.” Gotta laugh.
I passed the interview. We scheduled for the next day. She told me to send her my documents (my degrees, as I have a bachelor’s and a master’s), a pic, and my phone number. You will need also to send a scan of your passport or your license and Social Security card…Honestly I am not sure precisely what they wanted since I sent my passport and that was that! I am fairly sure they will not accept an expired passport, but you’ll have to ask. USA passports last ten years then expire and yes, I know they cost a fortune to obtain! They do offer alternatives.
Next was the pre-demo training session. This will only last 10 minutes. Be on time. I was! Now this is how it went, in case you are curious.
I was up at 2am my time. I checked my email. I looked and looked and saw nothing from DaDaABC. Checked Spam. Obsessively. Checked my messages on Skype. Then I thought…Maybe they never received my documents. I saw that Elsa, the recruiter, was online (in the office) on Skype, so I sent her a message. I asked her if she was still planning to meet with me at 18:30 later today and if she had received my documents.
I did not stay at the computer as I had things to do in the kitchen. I returned to the computer to see a message something like, “Hello! I can do the training now!” The time she had sent this was 4:40 in the morning, roughly two hours early.
I thought about this. We had agreed upon 6:30 my time, not 4:40. Shall I make her stick to the time we agreed upon, or shall I accommodate and jump to bend to her whim?
This is one of those employer/employee questions I hate dealing with. Being on time means being on time. That means sticking to the scheduled time. Okay, so Elsa wanted to leave work early, and she wanted to push her appointments earlier so she could go home. I get it. I get it now that I have had a chance to think stuff over.
I didn’t pick this message up immediately, since I was over in the kitchen and I didn’t have my sound turned on. When I returned to the computer it was after 5am. I told her, “In 15 minutes.” This gave me time to fully test my equipment and give it a last-minute shoe-shine. In 10 minutes, I told her, “Okay.”
Yes, I know, I was being accommodating. “Nice.”
This is what happened next. I opened the link she provided and logged in.
All I can say is thank goodness for those kind YouTubers who did demos of this interface. I had watched them last night and tried to soak up as much as I could. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I would highly recommend that anyone watch these.
Elsa went though the slides so fast that I would not call what she did “teaching.” She constantly interrupted me and did not let me ask any questions. The main reason I did so was to show that I was listening and engaging with her! She told me over and over, “Hurry up!” She even told me several times that she had to rush to train other trainees and did not have time for me!
We finally got to the end. I was relieved and told myself I was so glad it was over! This was the rudest “training” I’d ever experienced. No one tells me to “hurry up” like that. If you do, you are hitting me in a sore spot indeed. (I really should not say that publicly!)
“Hurry up! You are a slowpoke!” (Were you called that too, when you were a little kid in school? See what I mean?)
Unfortunately, the lesson wasn’t quite over. Now, Elsa said to me, “Go to the ‘Translation’ button.” Uh oh. I did not see any translation button there. None.
She said, “On the right.” I looked. Nothing.
She said, “A red button. On the left.” Seriously, she did. I pointed my mouse to every single red button, saying, “Is it this one? This one?”
You could hear just how exasperated she was! No! No! Why can’t you see it!
I couldn’t see it because it wasn’t there for some reason. I had now pointed out all the red buttons and had not left any out.
Now, she tried to show me with her mouse. Her mouse pointer disappeared behind the front window we were working in! Yep, it really did! When I pointed this out, somewhat apologetically to Elsa, she told me, “That’s not possible! We see the same screen!”
Are you readers as tech-minded as I am? I know as a fact that it’s not only possible, but probable, that two people from two different computers (and two different monitors) likely do not see the same screen!
“What’s wrong with you! I need to hurry up this lesson!”
She needed to hurry up because she’d either squeezed me in between lessons to get me over with, or wanted to get out of there and go home. I could hear a lot of talking in the background, and in fact, I could see behind her other people and I knew suddenly she wasn’t working from home. She was at a large call center where other recruiters were working. I could hear them in the background. Maybe her supervisor was bullying her. But that’s no excuse for treating me like a piece of poop. I’m not poop. I’m me.
Now, she totally lost her temper and said we’d have to redo the lesson. She ended the call.
I want to ask anyone who is reading this….Is this how to treat your employees if you are a trainer? Is this how to teach? Isn’t a teacher supposed to be patient? I would assume the last thing a teacher should say would be “Hurry up!” I certainly would never say that to a child or to an adult I was teaching. That makes for unprofessional company relations, and for bad human relations in general. It reflects poor communication.
Not only that, but Elsa failed to understand a basic human rights concept. We humans do not have the same viewpoint. We do not see the same screens, just like we do not see life the same way. I do not see life as you do. We have different likes and dislikes, different life experiences, and different beliefs.
This, our differences, is what makes us so unique and beautiful as human beings. Our differences are to be celebrated for what they are. We should embrace our differences, respect them, and regard them with awe and loving amazement.
After the call ended, I knew my experience with DadaABC was over. I don’t want to work for a company that does not respect me as a worker nor follows its own principles of patience and kindness.
I also knew that Elsa had been hurtful to me, and I needed some recovery time from that. I was nearly in tears afterward. Nearly, though, is not the same as outright crying. I don’t really cry anymore. My “mental patient” days are long over. (Those of you who might be curious about that can read some other entries here in my blog.)
I thought about the experience, and suddenly, I was laughing out loud. I realized that this was yet another event I could turn into a useful story to give to the world. And that, in fact, is exactly what I have done. I have written it up for you all, to laugh over or cry. You pick.
I was on the phone shortly after with a wonderful man whom I might name, Marc Miller, who is a person who gives advice regarding age discrimination. He has a website called Career Pivot for us older folks. Right after speaking with him, I signed up for a course in setting up a home business. This is a class that is very inexpensive offered in my community.
My DaDaABC experience helped me fully realize that although I do want to work from home, I do not want to work for someone else. Not for some “company.” I want to work for myself. After all, I am nice to me! And I can!
I have written up this story for you all, which I did on my own time, just for fun. I know in my heart I have the energy and talent and all kinds of things to give to the world. At 60, why waste it any longer? I want to do what I have always dreamed of doing.
I challenge anyone out there. Are you doing what you want to do? What if you had very little time left? Think in those terms, because you really do not know when the clock will strike. You don’t know. No one knows. If you could look back on your life right now, would you say you had regrets? Would you say you wished you had done something, or you wished you had not waited? Or wished you had not wasted time?
What are you waiting for? Go do it now! Life is so short, and so precious. Take the step and live your life.