Reach to Teach China: Incompetence

I had no intention of taking a job with Reach to Teach China, but in my last phone call with Carrie Kellenberger, I had mentioned China was likely my next stop. Because I theorized that a bad recruiting agency like theirs likely represented schools I would not want to work for, I thought working with them was the perfect way for me to disqualify schools from consideration.

Now I know that this might seem like a dishonest thing for me to do, but the way I saw it, they had lied to me and cost me quite a bit of money because of their lies (at least $3,000 at this point). I figured using their incompetence to make sure I didn’t get screwed a second time was morally neutral at worst. I was quite shocked to discover they were more incompetent in China than they were in Taiwan.

After I had interviewed with a different recruiter whom I felt I could trust, I set up a time to talk with Carrie at Reach to Teach about their China options. She spent most of the time talking about the visa in China and the difference between visa processes in Taiwan, but I had already done a lot of research into this and also spoken to a knowledgeable agent in China. I discovered (and can confirm now that I am teaching in China) that Carrie had no idea what she was talking about.

Carrie did not understand the requirements for the Z visas in different provinces; she didn’t understand the difference between a work permit and a foreign expert certificate and the benefits of one over the other (and the pitfalls of not having an expert certificate if you want to stay and change jobs); she didn’t know which kind of permit each of her schools offered; she tried to send me to schools that were not licensed and only offering F visas. In short, Reach to Teach was completely incompetent to recruit for China.

I made sure to ask the recruiter I was working with about the schools Carrie had offered me (never mentioning Reach to Teach by name, of course) and he had a mix of things to say. He told me why they didn’t work with some of those schools and why they did work with some of the others. In the end, I decided to go with a school that Reach to Teach didn’t even mention-it just seemed like the safest choice and  I was right. I am still at the same job and have been offered a nice promotion to stay on.

My story with Reach to Teach China does not end here, unfortunately. While I was in China, I met a teacher (quite randomly) who had come to China and we were sharing horror stories. He was on his way out because the school had brought him on a tourist visa and found out he wasn’t qualified for a work permit in that province after he had arrived. Thus, he had no choice but to return home and start from scratch with a new school in a new province because the tourist visa was expiring. I was shocked  when he told me his recruiter was Reach to Teach. We spent quite a bit of time sharing our Reach to Teach horror stories and he later got a solid job through the same recruiter I used for China.

So the moral of this tale is: DO NOT trust Reach to Teach China and DO NOT trust Reach to Teach Taiwan; more succinctly, DO NOT trust John Kellenberger, Carrie Kellenberger, or anyone at Reach to Teach Recruiting.

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