Do you think it’s worth it to accept a job offer from HESS, I’ve read some pretty atrocious reviews about the school. I would love to move to Taiwan, but I don’t want to leave my home country and be mistreated in a foreign one. Please advice or recommend any other schools who are currently looking for teachers.
For me, coming to Taiwan for the first time and starting at Hess was great. Back then, I was barely 25 years old and I didn’t even know there was a difference between Taiwanese and Mandarin! So, having the work part of my life sorted out was very helpful. I had never taught formally up to that point either, and the heavy schedule I got from Hess – especially when summer rolled around – was my boot camp. I also was a very bad teacher when I started - it didn’t seem to come naturally to me - and it was satisfying getting a sense that I improved from pretty bad to reliable.
I was lucky to have been surrounded by experienced, longtime NSTs who were willing to help me out, cover for me, show me the ropes. Some became lifelong friends who I still keep in touch with today - even as they have gone on to be pretty awesome (as expected). I joined Hess in 1993, re-upped the following year, broke contract 3 months later, and still managed to come back and get a Main Office job when I returned to Taiwan 2 years after that. I found Hess to be well-organized (especially compared to its competition) and pragmatic – pretty much par with other good organizations I’ve worked in since (I went on to banking, government, pharma marketing, and - now - biotech)
I also know plenty of good people over the years who did not have the good experience I had as a Hess teacher. From my perspective, to a great degree, it depends on where you land (dumb luck). But I think to an equally great degree, after you get there, it’s up to you to make the most of it – and that means even breaking contract and dealing with the consequences if you believe you have been handed a raw deal.
I did have a huge post written, but then I realized it could all be summarized in one or two short paragraphs.
Despite washing out of HESS’s training program fairly recently, I still highly recommend HESS (and regret washing out, but that’s another story.)
HESS specializes at training new teachers. I’d even say it’s their business model, even. They provide excellent, intensive training which leaves you much better prepared to teach than other companies.
HESS is also one of the biggest buxibans in Taiwan, and are a lot more legit as a result - they make an effort not to cut corners and to stick by the rules in their contracts. What this means to you is that you won’t have to worry about being deported in police raids, you won’t have to worry about being given too few hours each week, and you won’t have to worry about being screwed by the company - all things you should worry about with other companies.
The biggest advantage starting with HESS has, is that once your contract finishes, it puts you in a very good position. You can of course continue with HESS, or you can look for work in another buxiban - and being able to tell them you’ve worked for HESS for one or two years will improve your bargaining position a lot.
There is only two real downsides specific to HESS - that both the training and teaching are quite stressful, and that HESS pays on average, between 50 to 100 twd less per hour than other buxibans. There are other complaints you could level at the company, but as these would apply equally to all buxibans, I don’t think I really need to put them here.
Long story short, if you can put up with the stress, HESS is the best way of starting your career over here.
You shouldn’t need to worry about police raids at any buxiban, as long as the buxiban has obtained a work permit with the correct information and doesn’t ask you to do anything inconsistent with that permit (such as starting a day early or working at the kindergarten next door, upstairs, or wherever).
I stand corrected. They still have the kindergartens, and I’ve been told they still get raided occasionally.
As I am currently in the process of packing up my stuff and booking tickets back home, due to a constant lack of hours at my current buxiban, and an inability to find new jobs caused by lack of experience, I stlll think HESS or one of the similar buxibans (Kajen, for instance) is the way to go. If you can get through it for 6 - 12 months, you’re in an ideal position to take a job you’ll actually like.
Of course, the problem is you’re likely to absolutely hate teaching by that point.
Wow, I was burned at the stake for asking this question. The responses when I asked the question seemed divided between old Taiwan hands who had a certain experience 15 or 20 years ago and the younger generation who had an entirely different experience at the modern day Hess.
I haven’t been here long enough to talk about anything other than my own experiences…
Some of the things holding me back that may or may not hold you back, is
I already have a lease on an apartment in Taipei, meaning any job I get has to be here. From what I’ve read on here and elsewhere, Taipei is kind of the mecca for good teaching jobs, and competition is fiercest here.
I’m keen to actually work here legally, and know enough about what is ‘legal’ to ask about working visas in interviews. This automatically cuts me out of any of the schools not prepared to give a working visa - which is probably about half of them.
When I say I don’t have experience, I mean I don’t have experience with children. Since I’ve mostly been going for jobs teaching young children, that’s really counted against me. If you have any sort of experience looking after young children, this won’t be a problem for you.
My advice is to accept that the first 6 - 12 months are going to be terrible, and not hold out for a good job like I did. Ideally, sign up with Hess, Kajen, Giraffe or one of the other large Buxibans that specialize in training up new cannon fodder, take their initial training to heart, consider the work they put you through to be a kind of prolonged boot camp, then go and get a decent job once your contract is finished.
These organizations have an advantage, in that they accept applicants that haven’t arrived in Taiwan yet. If you apply online, you’ll probably be given an interview online, and have… well, 3+ weeks of training and a job waiting for you once you get here.
Another path is to apply around once you get here, and accept whatever position you’re given, in whatever city it’s in. Since I didn’t do this myself, and don’t know anyone who has, I really can’t give any advice about it.
Anyone done this?
The only other advice I’ve got, is when job hunting, use Tealit.com, under teaching jobs. And treat both their listed benefits and their requirements with grains of salt…
Awesome. Thanks so much for your advice. Really appreciated.
Do you know if HESS offers 6 month contracts? One of my worries about them is I really want to be in Taipei and have heard that they will place you wherever on the island they see fit.
So did you arrive already signed up with HESS? I’m considering arriving and applying around (again, no exp, yikes). But hoping that if nothing comes through in the first few weeks I can apply with HESS.