United States 3/10
What a waste of time, out of the hundreds of jobs there, my husband and I could apply for 10. And of all of those, at least 6 told me that we needed IB experience. It was my understanding that the IB fair was held in London. Administrators who were excited to meet us at the fair after MANY skype/phone calls told us that they had “found someone on the internet” the night before and hired them! Without even meeting them! Another school (We started talking to this school at the beginning of January) said that they had tried but failed to hire someone to fill a different position than ours, which for some reason still not clear to me affected our hiring, so they have put us off and still not hired anyone for the position. Yet another school was interviewing for positions for two schools which aren’t built and they are not sure when they will be completed or when they’d be able to hire anyone!
We also had trouble with communication. Some schools e-mail you, some use the mailboxes, one school had their paperwork taken out of their folder so a person they tried to hire never responded. In the end, we paid $5k total, and got one job offer that paid less than half of what we are making now.
The fair was well put together and very orderly. Search did an excellent job of hosting this event. Everything was set up for candidates comfort to include tables to sit at, convenient access to food, snacks,and drinks for sale, laptops to check job postings, associates available to help candidates, etc. For such a major event, it went off very smoothly.
I was very glad I did not stay at the Hyatt because it looked old and shabby. It took forever to get up in the elevators to rooms for interviews. Many candidates ran the stairs. I just figured in about 30 minutes time between interviews. I stayed at the overflow hotel by default but my room was much newer and nicer than the rooms at the Hyatt I saw. (Since the recruiters interviewed in their rooms, I got to see a lot of rooms.) The downside of staying at the overflow hotel was that I had nowhere to relax other than the public areas of the hotel and with days starting at 7:30am and ending around 6pm I got really tired.
I received one firm job offer but could not accept because the salary did not cover my expenses. Competition was very intense! The recruiters seemed to prefer couples over singles and young teachers over more experienced teachers. Most of the people running around exclaiming they had jobs were also good looking people so perhaps there was the natural bias at work to hire more attractive people. Of the 10 people I made friends with and hung out with only one other person received an offer and she settled for a school that pays only $25,000 USD. The others did not get offers. I am not sure if this is representative of everyone’s experience. I noticed that older candidates did not seem to get hired unless they were part of a teaching couple, nor did candidates who spoke English with a heavy accent, nor did extremely overweight candidates.
I think that my experience this year at the fair is also reflective of the fact that we are in a tough economic market place with supply of teachers outstripping demand. I just hope to find a job for next year soon. Good luck to everyone.
I would recommend this fair to others if they did not have to pay a lot of money to travel to the fair and they could stay cheaply in the area.
United States 2/22
Thank you for such a wonderful time at the Cambridge Fair. Going from ZERO responses last year when I tried to find a job on my own, to having 4 job offers at the Fair!!! It was such an amazing experience and one that I would suggest to anyone trying to locate a job overseas! I appreciate more than you know all of the advice and helpful suggestions you gave me throughout the weekend.
I was in such a hurry to catch my plane that I forgot to complete my survey of the fair. I thought the entire fair ran very smoothly for having so many people. I would love for the candidates in the future to be paired with someone else as a roommate. I myself was given a roommate and it made the entire terrifying experience more manageable. I also think it would be nice to somehow have a contact sheet available for names and email addresses. I met so many wonderful people who were trying to get placed overseas as well, but was so involved in the interview process, that I did not get any of their information. It also would be great if the schools themselves had a meeting in the late afternoon on Saturday or early Sunday morning with the candidates that they hired. It would give them a chance to meet and exchange information as well. Everyone is moving to a new location and it would be so nice to have at least one other person to speak with that is going through the same transition.
Overall, I know that I would not have been successful had it not been for Search Associates and my advisor. If in the future I wish to change schools, I know that I will again call on Search Associates for help. Who knows, one day I may wish to become an advisor myself!
Your biggest fan,
New Teacher at International School of Luxembourg
United States 2/15
I attended the Search Cambridge fair as a “newbie.” I have been teaching for 4 years and am single. I went into this not knowing what to expect and read every e-mail and was constantly checking job availability on the Search Site. If you research online and contact the schools before hand you could probably find a job without ever attending the fair. I interviewed with 2 schools via Skype a couple weeks before this fair, and feel if I had contacted more schools I could have saved money by not attending the fair. But on the other hand I’m glad I went to the fair because it was a one shot knock out.
I thought the fair was organized and well put together. Orientation was pointless if you had read all the e-mails and researched the process. Interview sign up was easy and relaxed. I didn’t have much “competition” from the married teaching couples because I’m in music and I think there were only 5 music teachers there that I ran into. I signed up for all the interviews I wanted with no problem, the lines weren’t that bad. I signed up for all my interviews in less then 20 minutes of each session, but that was because there were only so many music jobs. I did have to talk one school into an interview, but other then that they knew who I was when I walked up to the table and had been waiting for me to sign up. It was great! It seemed that the information Search had given them about me and the card I had put in their mailbox the night before sign ups really helped.
I’m the kind of person who tries to figure stuff out on my own and not ask for help, so I never sought out my associate, Dexter, but when he saw me he sat down next to me and started asking questions. When I told him my top 2 choices he was nervous about the European schools because they tend to pay lower, but he seemed optimistic about the other choices. The next time he saw me he told me that he had personally contacted the school in Europe and made sure that I would be making enough money to live and travel off of, and encouraged me to go for it. Actually told me I’d be crazy not to take that one. He was great and very helpful, even when I wasn’t looking for the help. I know that some of the other associates are less helpful and not very involved so I felt lucky. I know others that would approach associates that were not their own because of this and the associates were nice enough to talk to them.
I got to the fair extra early so I could get settled in. The Hotel had positives and negatives. I met some people who stayed at another hotel to save money, but it was so inconvenient to travel every morning and then you had no where to escape to. I enjoyed staying there because I could go to my room and think in peace and quiet (plus the internet worked better in the room) or I could go to the candidate lounge and socialize and talk to the other candidates (the internet was bad in there when it was really busy, and there was no where to plus up computers so mine died.) Meeting other candidates and hanging out made the fair more bearable. It relieved the stress. The negatives were the price! I got set up with a roommate through search to split the price and it was still too expensive! And the food was bad. Made me sick and it really wasn’t good, plus it was expensive. With the people I met, we shared cabs and went out to eat at night. It was worth the money to get away from the hotel. It would be better if the hotel was more centrally located where you could go places.
The fair was well organized and access to internet was good. In the past, however, candidates have not been allowed into the main ballroom before 8:00. This year, things got going earlier than that, but you had to be in the room to know it. I agree with the previous post that an updated list of jobs would have been beneficial. The number of jobs on the web site and the actual jobs available changed drastically overnight. I also think they should not have opened the doors and allowed people into the main ballroom until 8:00.
I am most displeased with the service provided by Search. Our associate ignored us before the fair, during the fair, and now after the fair. When I needed to talk to her, she was nowhere to be found. When I could locate her, she was busy doing something else. Now we are still searching, but I can’t seem to get a response to save my life. Why are we assigned these associates anyway? Are they supposed to help us out? What’s the point? Next time we’ll try ISS.
The organization was tight. I was never left wondering what was going on, or what event was next. I could check my file, use computers, leave notes. The personal attention I received from my assigned coordinator was above and beyond what any participant would expect. He spoke to directors and headmasters, directly, enabling me to receive more interviews. With this attention I landed 4 interviews and 2 job offers. I could not be happier, and this is my 3rd conference, none as personal and rewarding as Search Associates. I recommend thoroughly, and without hesitation. You will not feel like a number in the crowd with SEARCH!
United States 2/13
I attended the International Teaching Job Fair in Cambridge, Massachusetts hosted by Search Associates on February 4th-February 7th, 2010. The first words that come to mind in order to describe the overall organization of the Fair are: professional, practical, supportive, well prepared, and successful.
For starters, the communication network within Search Associates is excellent. Search Associates gave me timely and helpful information way in advance of the actual Cambridge Fair. Not only was the information exceptionally specific (i.e. links on the website connect candidates to hotel maps for easy reference as well as updated international school recruiter information), but also proved to be useful once arriving at the Fair. Furthermore the first-day orientations organized by Search Associates were meant to encourage, inform, and guide candidates in their search to find employment at an international school. The Search Associates staff that spoke at the orientations left me feeling inspired and more prepared for the ensuing sign-up sessions and interviews with recruiting schools.
With regards to technicalities, the Fair was an overall success. Around 150 international schools were in attendance at the Cambridge Fair, actively seeking candidates for employment. The Hyatt Regency was an ideal location for the Fair because their facilities were capable of hosting hundreds of recruiters and candidates, without ever feeling too large. Search Associates made sure in advance that both candidates and recruiters had lounges with access to free wireless and workspace–and these proved to be ideal for fair attendees who needed to conduct business in between orientations, sign-up sessions, and interviews. Interviews with recruiting schools took place in Hyatt Regency hotel rooms, which was practical because of their proximity to all other Fair activities. (A side note: One fantastic feature of the Cambridge Fair were the mailboxes set up for candidates, recruiters, and Search Associates staff, located in respective lounges. The mailboxes made communication between Fair attendees swift, especially when recruiters and candidates were too busy to check e-mail.)
Availability of jobs was excellent because Search Associates maintains both an online database of updated information from international schools as well as a superb communication network with the schools in attendance at the Fair. Therefore I knew well in advance that the international schools in Cambridge would be posting available jobs during four possible sign-up sessions and that these jobs would be the most updated possible. A separate sign-up session and orientation was organized for intern candidates, which helped me and other prospective candidates enormously. I noted that the majority of the 150 schools in attendance were offering multiple positions, and selecting dozens of candidates for interviews. Additionally, time allotted to arrange for interviews was well planned at the Cambridge Fair. There were several hours during each sign-up session for candidates to circulate the large, comfortable Hyatt Ballroom and set up interviews with recruiters. Because the Fair lasted until February 7th, candidates had at the very least three possible days with which to set up interviews with recruiters.
Interns, singles, and couples would feel equally supported because each candidate is assigned their own Search Associate to personally help them at the Fair. Though individual Search Associates were often busy, they were NEVER too busy to speak with me when I needed help or had a question. Individual Search Associates also projected a warmth and understanding because many of them had been through the international recruitment process before. Also, Search Associates consistently conveyed positive messages about “life after Cambridge”– meaning that they are determined to help candidates who did not find positions at Cambridge continue their search until they find an appropriate placement. The determination of the Search Associates to support all candidates at the Fair imbued the attendees with a sense of well-being and comradeship. It was quite common to see competing candidates congratulating each other for their personal successes or providing reinforcement during chall
My personal experience with Search Associates was excellent. I felt supported during the entire process; I was well prepared before the Fair (via e-mail and telephone), encouraged during the orientation sessions (by experienced, well-trained, and professional staff), guided throughout the Fair (with practical and up-to-date information), and congratulated after I accepted a position at an international school (I received follow-up e-mails and correspondence promptly after the Fair.) As a first time attendee to the Cambridge International Teaching Job Fair hosted by Search Associates, I hope to return again in the future and I highly recommend this Fair to prospective candidates and recruiters at international schools.
United States 2/11
So I was a “newbee” as they call it. I’ve been teaching in the states for 5 years. I’m a performer and have been to many cattle call auditions over the years, but this is nuts. Word of warning for first timers. Research months in advance, be prepared to be asked difficult questions about your personal life, and prepare to ask probing questions about these schools and what they offer. This is your life here! For two years! Most schools want to “sell” their school and many make it look amazing, never discussing negatives. Thanks to International School Review that helps shed light at times on schools that will be a challenge. Never be afraid to ask other teachers about these schools too. They will be more than honest.
The fair was well organized, all in all and there seemed to be plenty of music jobs available in many locations. I was SO unimpressed with the location of the fair. Nothing in walking distance (and trust me, you need to get out of that building to clear your head). Closest thing was a Trader Joes about a mile away. Shuttle service was nice, but since everything is so fast paced, it is difficult to leave for long stretches of time. The Hyatt had TERRIBLE internet service and I’m glad it was free, because I would have been irritated to have paid for it. There was construction going on, so that was noisy and distracting, especially when you were trying to relax in your room. Although, I was able to get one night knocked off of my bill because of it. I would have preferred staying at a Holiday Inn where you at least get a complimentary breakfast and have a micro-fridge for staying for a long stretch. The Hyatt stunk and was way too expensive.
I’m not sure if the singles or the couples got the jobs, but there are a lot of “dynamic duos” at this fair. They are serious and very valuable to schools for sure. I got my first choice school. I was not afraid to arrange interviews before the fair even began (Thursday morning) and I think that benefited me. Get yourself out there before the chaos of the fair with your favorite schools. Make a promo video of your classroom (short one) post it on youtube, and send it out. IMovie is awesome and user friendly. I think that helped me seal the deal.
I love Dexter Lewis. He completely was there for me when I needed him. I felt pressured to make a decision and he helped me sort through the offers to make the best decision. He was honest and straight with me. Thanks Dexter!
The other teachers are helpful too. Enjoy getting to know people and asking them about their experiences. I had NO experience teaching abroad and there were people younger then me that had been to 3 schools already. There is a whole different world out there I didn’t even know about until this fair.
Last bit of advice for new people. Go to as many interviews as possible. You can always say NO to any offer, but it helps you compare and contrast the schools and what they offer. Get an interview with a school in the Middle East even if it scares you to death to go there. Be prepared to “play the game”. If you are offered a position at a school that is lower down on your list, call your top choice school and tell them you have an offer. There is definitely a game played here with the schools and you have to have a strategy. Nobody really talked to me about that.
I was happy I brought someone with me. My boyfriend (not going with me to my new school) came with me and stayed at the hotel. He was a support and a dose of reality.
If I could change anything about this fair I would change the location. Have it somewhere in the heart of a city so there are opportunities to get out and walk around. I would also like for them to have more teacher meetings, help groups, and programs for support of “newbees”. You are really out there on your own.
While I have taught overseas before, the search Cambridge fair was my first overseas job fair experience, and overall it was a great one! I had many invitations to interview, as did a number of other teachers I spoke with during the fair. The atmosphere, though somewhat stressed, was great for meeting new people (teachers and administrators alike) and networking. I found the fair to be extremely well-organized, with perhaps the exception being that the sign-up sessions were very crowded and a number of schools had very long, slow-moving lines by their tables. Happily, I was able to land lots of interviews with great schools and received multiple offers, as did the other teachers I was traveling with, who were a mix of singles and couples. It did not seem to me to make a difference to schools if you were a teaching couple or just a single, although teachers with a non-teaching spouse did have some difficulty getting interviews.
My two complaints are simple: the hotel was expensive (especially the food) and undergoing renovations, making it very noisy and at times unattractive, and the “associates” were not overly helpful. They seemed to just hide in their makeshift office all day, and when I did need to speak with someone I overheard bickering between them and was given a terse, rather unhelpful response to my question. While they did a fantastic job arranging and organizing the fair, I think their “people skills” leave a bit to be desired.
Overall, though, it was a great experience, and I would absolutely attend this fair again as well as recommend it to others!
The fair itself was very organized. We knew exactly what to do and where to go. This was my second fair and third time recruiting. The first fair I attended was a smaller fair but ran exactly the same.
The lounges were well equipped easily accessible. The lounge itself was placed across from the Director’s lounge, which helped with ‘running into’ directors. This is helpful as the more your face is seen the more people remember you. I had many conversations spark with just a “Hi how are you” to a director. Two times I was invited for an interview simply because I said hi with a smile.
There were two main problems I faced. The first was that I did not understand the role of the associates. Prior to the fair I had emailed my associate and asked her what her role was with helping me in recruiting. The response was “Only a supportive role”. Though the Web site advertises the associates ‘placing’ candidates, I was definitely on my own with finding my own job. On a more positive note, when I did need advice about deciding on a specific contract, you could easily find a random associate to help you and give you advice.
The second problem was the hotel itself. Unfortunately the Hotel was in renovations. Good for the hotel but bad for everyone that was job searching. When you are trying to concentrate on answering questions – the hammering and sawing was a major distraction. It did finally stop by Friday afternoon, but as anyone knows most of the important interviews are on Friday.
I choose to go with Search because of the schools attending and when it was placed on the calendar. Yes a lot of jobs disappeared after Bangkok, however I felt that the schools were more ready to hire. I have heard that Bangkok is a ‘couples’ fair, where Cambridge was a singles fair.
I felt that some of the schools should not have been there. During orientation, Search recommended that you go on all interviews if you were invited. So I did- even if I was not interested in the school. I had about five interviews with schools from Turkey and Egypt that we really looking for and English as a Second Language teacher rather than a classroom teacher. These schools were also quick to offer you a contract after about 10 minutes of interviewing which tells me that they were ready to fill these classrooms with warm bodies. They were very aggressive with follow up and were angry when you say that you accepted another job.
The ISS fair immediately followed the Search Fair, which meant that some of the big schools might have been ‘shopping’ and not hiring. I also had many interviews like that as well. In all taking all of the interviews possible meant a very tiring and stressful day, but excellent for networking and practicing the same questions over and over. By the fifth interview I was rocking every interview.
Talking and eaves dropping in elevators and in the hallways proved to be interesting. Many of the big schools that were prepared to hire teachers were declined by teachers and they seemed frustrated with that. Even though the rumor was that this was a ‘School’s fair’ it actually seemed like a ‘teacher’s fair’ if you put in the effort and were flexible. I did not care what Grade level I taught or what country to live in. Flexibility seemed to be the key. I became more of an attractive candidate because I was willing to be extremely open-minded and diverse.
There were a lot of people who could not get interviews or walked out without a job. In addition the interns seemed to have the most help. I did not like competing for an interview slot with an intern. Further the interns received a reduced rate to sign up for the fair and (for those schools interested) received first pick at sign up times.
In all, I was fairly pleased with the fair. I got the job I desired (luckily) and I would attend the Cambridge fair again.
United States 2/11
Search did a good job getting hotel discounts. My wife and I stayed in the hotel throughout the fair. We had free internet in the room, there were discounts in the restaurant, and parking was reduced drastically.
We had six interviews as a couple, and could have had more if we considered the Middle East. We had two offers and accepted a great one.
The only complaint, and it is a minor one, is that Search does not provide a list of school openings before the sign-ups, other than what is up on the web. Schools do not always update their openings so you get to the sign-up and have to read signs behind each recruiter’s table. An accurate list on Friday morning would have been beneficial. Also, the Search staff was not overly friendly or helpful. We asked some questions and our Search rep said she would get back to us but never did.
United States 2/10
Very well organized, good value, recommended. The Hyatt Hotel was a fine venue — not too big, actually kind of cozy, but that meant more interaction. Those staying at the hotel complained of renovation noise, and shabby rooms, but the conference part seemed fine.
Who attended? There were a surprising number of newbies, never overseas before. But there were plenty of schools, each with a smattering of jobs. Several people, including us, received offers — both singles and couples, younger and older.
Search Associates did a good job organizing. They arranged for free wi-fi in the decently-equipped candidates’ lounges. The messaging scheme was fine, if traditional, as was the interview-sign-up process. The cocktail party was especially good, excellent place for mixing and networking.
The Search people seemed to stay in the background, in their room — I wish they had been more “present” and helpful to candidates. I also wish the school-presentations were more personal (most seemed to just show a video).
Yes, the Hyatt is expensive, but we didn’t stay there (the employed people already have expense accounts, after all, so they can help subsidize the fair).
The fair seemed well-organized. There were computers in the candidate lounge and wireless access throughout for those who brought their own laptops. There was a shuttle bus that ran regularly between the conference and back-up hotels, snacks were readily available to get candidates through the long day, and special deals worked out with the hotel restaurant and parking garage.
A large number of schools were represented, but some who were listed didn’t show. Also, A LOT of jobs that we were looking at disappeared in the days before the fair and not many new ones popped up. Schools should have been hiring but we detected a bit of disappointment in the air. It may be because there were a lot of young and not very experienced people there. I heard that couples were in high demand, but it was hard for the two of us to find both of our jobs even considering the fact that we have multiple certifications, only one dependent, and were open to many places in the world.
The associates were very helpful. Harry Deelman is not the organizer of this fair or even my associate, but he spent at least 30 minutes with us to help us make a decision. It isn’t exactly our dream school, but we wound up with jobs we’re happy about. I would recommend this fair to those who have a lot of experience (IB definitely helps) and are flexible about place.
United States 2/7
Well organized, good variety of schools. Still lots of jobs available even though the big London and Bangkok fairs had come and gone. This is my fifth fair, have gone the ECIS and ISS route…Search beats them all. Very comforting to have an associate who ‘hovers’ over you and creates a connection between recruiters and candidates.