On this night three years ago, I initiated my very first contract working with VIPKID. In case you haven’t heard, VIPKID is a Chinese company that aims to pair native English speakers with Chinese children who want to learn English as a second language from the comfort of their own homes.
Classes are one-on-one and held entirely in English. A common concern I frequently hear from potential new teachers is that they cannot speak or understand any Chinese. While it certainly can be fun to learn how to speak Mandarin, it’s not only unnecessary but actually forbidden.
VIPKID classes are meant to be held entirely in English. They want the lesson to be immersive from start to finish.
I wanted to use this post as an opportunity to review my last three years of working with this company while I dive deeper into topics like how I got started here, why I chose VIPKID, and how my experience has evolved over time.
How to Become a Teacher
It’s remarkable how suddenly things can change.
With the state of the world right now, there’s been a massive surge of people seeking remote work. When I first applied to VIPKID three years ago, that definitely wasn’t the case.
Finding a way to make money working online was by no means easy. In fact, I struggled a lot to find completely remote work that I could perform independently of any fixed location back in 2017.
I still remember applying for the weirdest jobs because the total selection was so limited! I think I applied to be a German import/export supervisor and when I stopped to think about whether or not I was wasting my time applying for something so random that I was clearly unqualified for… I still applied anyway.
Yeah, I was that desperate for work.
I knew I was wasting my time applying to certain ones but beggars can’t be choosers, right?
Needless to say, I didn’t even get past that initial application screening.
I applied to over 65 other jobs. It wasn’t easy finding remote work!
(Though, I learned a lot through that process. To make it easier for you, I’ve created a free guide on how to work remotely and earn money online. You can learn more about potential remote work options here.)
Before I ever even thought about backpacking, I actually first started looking into remote work because I was dating someone from another country. I needed to figure out how I could monetarily support myself from afar since the language barrier would undoubtedly be a great challenge for me if I chose to seek out jobs overseas. Unless they miraculously had an English-based position… which seemed unlikely.
My choices were clearly limited.
Teaching English online seemed like my best shot at achieving what I was striving for. As long as I had my laptop and a stable internet connection, I could work remotely and afford to move internationally. I knew I was taking on a big challenge, but people tend to do crazy things for love.
I remember that summer in 2017 I was applying to the craziest “remote jobs” online. 99% of them rejected me. To be honest, I actually didn’t even pass VIPKID’s hiring process the first time around.
Even though I applied in early summer, it wasn’t until.. well… this time three years ago. I finally got hired at the tail-end of October. Essentially, I explained in an e-mail how desperately I needed this opportunity, and coincidentally or through some stroke of luck, they were testing out a new hiring process for recruits who just barely missed the mark on their first application go-around so I was essentially given a second chance to fix what I did wrong and prove myself.
A few days later – I was hired!
VIPKID: A Household Name
Why did I choose to work with VIPKID over all of the other ESL platforms in existence?
VIPKID is such an amazing company. In China, it is extremely well-known. Their reputation has grown over time and I’d say it has become somewhat of a “premium” service for private English lessons. To my knowledge, their classes have gone up in price over the last three years.
Their total number of teachers has also grown. More teachers to choose from means more choices for students who use the platform. Of course, that also means that new teachers on the platform may have a tougher time getting their “book of business” started in the early stages of their teaching career.
As with anything, you need to market yourself! Students need to be drawn into your profile whether that be through your intro pictures, intro video, or introductory biography.
I really enjoyed working for VIPKID these last three years. I think the content of the lessons was adorable and my students became my friends. They were so sweet and hard-working. I admired their dedication.
The VIPKID Teacher Facebook community has proven to be… something else… haha. There’s always something going down in it and, thankfully, it usually leads to a laugh or a chuckle. The many VIPKID Facebook groups I am in have provided me with plenty of laughter while I was living abroad.
Even though I’ve only met one or two other teachers in real life, there are tons more who I feel like I’ve gotten to know personally just from interacting with them online.
3 Years Later
Over the course of the last three years, I’ve done a TON of work through VIPKID.
Every single class is automatically recorded and saved (I don’t love that… but whatever) and it’s so funny to compare videos from October 2017 to ones from this year. It’s so different. First off, I look different. The visual changes are striking since you wouldn’t think a person could change much in a span of three years. Besides that, everything else has changed too: my teaching style, my online presence in a virtual classroom, how I solve problems, my technical knowledge, my teaching techniques.
Sometimes you don’t realize the progress and skills you’ve learned until you take a step back and reflect.
Having the chance to watch video playbacks of your growth makes it even more eye-opening since the differences are far more striking.
Over the last few years, I’ve taught English through VIPKID in a bunch of different countries like Greece, Poland, Spain, Croatia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina. They say you can travel on as little as $50/day. Well, with VIPKID, I was able to travel solo right out of college without really saving any money. Depending on how many hours I wanted to pour into it, it wasn’t difficult to make $125-$200/day working 7 days a week.
The other cool thing is that VIPKID doesn’t “require” anything in terms of availability. If you want to take a day off, you can. You can take a month off if you want. You can even take a year off. There is no minimum requirement. That type of flexibility was huge while traveling.
Even though I’m unsure of how much longer I will continue my VIPKID teaching career into the future, I am more than happy to keep my contract with them current since you never know when the perfect time may come along to open up your bookings and make a student’s day while getting paid in the process!
My Next Steps
The last three years with VIPKID have been awesome. While I’m still currently active on their platform (I just renewed my seventh contract!) I haven’t been teaching nearly as much as I used to while traveling.
While a lot of chaos has ensued in 2020, I feel like the pandemic and quarantine has given me a chance to really think about my future and what I want to do next. Thankfully, my blog has been helpful and I’ve also had the fortune of transitioning into a bit of a hiring role by helping many new applicants with VIPKID work through the hiring process. That has been really helpful and rewarding while I consider new possibilities for the future. So if you are thinking about applying to VIPKID and want someone to help coach you through the application process, I’d be more than happy to help guide you step-by-step!
Just let me know! 🙂