When I moved to Berlin, I was open to any kind of work. I wasn’t sure what would be available, whether I would need to have German language skills or even where to look. As I am a trained Primary School Teacher back at home, I decided to apply to some bilingual and international schools in Berlin. As a back up, I was thinking of teaching English or perhaps nannying, which would give me more time to pursue my writing. It turns out, the rules are pretty strict over here. Here are a few things to watch out for:
Make sure you have the right paperwork
I was jumping for joy when I received an email from a bilingual school in Berlin. It looked like just the kind of school I would like to teach at, with a focus on creativity, languages and individuality. A phone interview was organised and I prepared myself accordingly. Two weeks later, when I answered the call, I had a ten minute chat with the lady on the other end, who asked a few questions before noticing that she had overlooked some vital information. My qualifications did not match with their school, so the interview was cut short! As you can imagine, I found this extremely frustrating, as I have been teaching at primary schools all over Australia for six years and have a Masters degree in Education. However, I was not deemed ‘knowledgeable enough in any specialisation’ to teach young children!
Start applying for work prior to arrival, so you have time to organise the correct visa
Whilst I was not qualified for dependent schools, international schools would happily accept me. I applied for several more schools and heard back from one, which was interested in my CV and wanted to know what kind of visa I was on. I was in the process of applying for a Working Holiday Visa, which would enable me to work at any job for a year…or so I thought. However, I later received an email saying that it was not able to be hired on this kind of visa. I emailed back asking what visa would be required. A work permit was the solution, however, this kind of visa required an employment contract. As I had not been offered a job yet, I could not apply for this. It seemed a bit impossible. It turns out, on further clarification, that they did not have the time to help me go through the visa change. They needed a teacher to start immediately and so I resumed my search.
Don’t expect to make a full time living on freelance teaching jobs
I received no response from any other online application, so I emailed 15 English teaching schools and heard back from about half of them. The idea of teaching English excited me at first. This way, I could mix with travellers and international students and improve my teaching skills at the same time. The only problem is that a lot of them are freelance which meant very little pay, not many hours and a lot of travelling from school to school. I went for an interview with an English-teaching school – it looked fabulous – full training included at the beginning and then I would get to teach English to children from 2 – 10 years of age. However, when I arrived in the interview, I already knew there would be too many strings attached. This business hired freelance teachers on the same contract as interns. If you left the company before the year was up, you would have to pay a 500 euro fine. The pay was atrocious and the hours were very few. I had enjoyed the interview but was disheartened at how little they seemed to value their teachers.
Be persistent – the perfect job is just around the corner!
It was Autumn, the leaves were falling from the trees and it was starting to feel cold. Just when I’d almost given up hope, I received an email from an international school! I was invited in for an interview for a classroom teaching position. Three interviews, a trial lesson and two months later, I was told I had the job! They translated my degrees and transcripts for me, changed over my visa and organised my health insurance. It was November when I finally started working, but it was worth the wait! Full-time work never felt so good!