Today I want to share with you my process of becoming an EPIK teacher. I will warn you now, it was a very longgggg process for me. And by long, I mean 8 years long. I’m going all the way back to the day the idea first sprang into my head!
(Apologies to my friends and family who have subscribed to my blog and keep receiving e-mails about new blog posts which are all about applying to EPIK. I promise that my normal blogs will start in about two weeks when I leave for Korea!)
DISCLAIMER: THIS POST WAS WRITTEN FROM MY EXPERIENCES DURING THE FALL 2015 EPIK INTAKE. FUTURE PROCESSES OR FORMS MAY DIFFER. ALWAYS READ EPIK’S INSTRUCTIONS FIRST AND USE MY INFORMATION AS A SUPPLEMENT ONLY IF IT APPLIES.
2007 (Summer before my senior year of high school): Decided I wanted to teach English in Korea
By this time I was already interested in Korea because I had been watching dramas (Goong) and KPop (Super Junior). After watching the Korean movie “Please Teach Me English” I realized that Koreans were very interested in learning English and someone needed to teach them English! So, I decided that I wanted to be that someone. It was on that day I decided I would be moving to Korea someday and I finally knew what I wanted to do in college. I decided to major in Linguistics, which would lead me to my TESOL MA one day.
2008-2012 (Sometime in my undergrad): Discovered the EPIK program
I don’t exactly remember how I found out about the EPIK program, but I do remember watching an Eat Your Kimchi video where they talked about how they got their teaching jobs in Korea and also the differences between public schools and hagwans.
At another point during my undergrad, the Korean Studies department at my university held an informational meeting about EPIK and TaLK. I considered doing the TaLK program, but because I only had a semester or two left of my undergrad I decided against it. I really wanted to complete my BA and begin my MA straight away.
2015 January 31: Began fall 2015 EPIK application
I was a little late starting the application. Whoops >.< For some reason I had it in my head that that the application was being posted in February, not that applications would start being accepted in February. Whoops!
2015 March 16: Submitted application and two recommendation letters
Hitting the “send” button was really scary! It took me a few hours to actually get the courage to send my application. I continuously checked my application over and over again, making sure I didn’t miss anything or make any silly mistakes. I was also nervous about my lesson plan. It wasn’t my best work.
I finally just closed my eyes and hit the “Send” button. I’m pretty sure I almost vomited right there all over my computer.
2015 March 17: Application officially received by EPIK
I received a standard e-mail reply from EPIK that they received my application:
“Thank you for taking the time to apply for the Fall 2015 term (start dates in August with a few positions in September). As we are still busy wrapping up our current term, we will not process your application until mid March…
Interviews will begin around the end of March/early April and continue for the following months. Please note that because you applied early, your documents will be handled first when the time comes. Also note again that this processing time and being notified of an interview or not will vary depending on where you are in the queue.”
The email also suggested that I start preparing all of the necessary documents that I would be required to send in if I passed the interview. Attached to the e-mail was a document called “Required Documents Guide”. (I will be posting a guide to the Required Documents in my Guide to EPIK, so check there for help understanding some of the confusing parts of this document.)
Lastly, the e-mail invited me to join the Fall 2015 EPIK Facebook group. This group can be great resource of information.
2015 April 16: Invited for an Interview
After an entire month of waiting and thinking that I didn’t make it, I finally got the e-mail asking me to interview.
“You have passed the first selection phase and we would like to invite you to participate in an interview via Skype (webcam).
We have your interview scheduled for April 23rd Thursday, at 11:20 AM Korean Standard Time (KST). “
To prepare for my interview I probably watched every single YouTube video and read every single blog post about possible EPIK interview questions.
2015 April 22: Interview
My interview was on April 23 at 11:20 Korea time, which meant that in my timezone it was at 10:20pm on the 22nd. I can’t tell you how many times I checked and re-checked that I did the time conversion right!
2015 April 23: Followup Interview
A different person from EPIK called me, this time on my cell phone. Unlike my first interviewer, this person was a native English speaker (and also happened to be my coordinator!). They went over the changes I had to make to my application again. They also made sure that I understood that my requested POE/MOE was not guaranteed and explained that if there were no positions available there, I would be recommended to another place without speaking with me. They asked if I was ok with this, which I was. Then they reviewed the Required Documents with me and asked how that process was going and at what stage I was in gathering the documents. I was also given the opportunity to ask any questions I had, which I did. I asked how marking as “flexible start date” worked. They explained that they try to fill up August first, and then move on to September, then October. So it all would depend on how soon or how late I would submit my documents. Lastly, they told me to expect an e-mail in about 2 business days with my interview result.
2015 April 29: Received e-mail that I passed my interview!
The e-mail came from the person who would be my main EPIK contact, known as your EPIK coordinator. The e-mail said I passed the interview and that they, “…would like to to recommend you to our Offices of Education as soon as you have submitted all the necessary documents. Remember, it is on a first-come first-serve basis!”
Your coordinator will also ask you to send them an updated copy of your application with the changes made. They will also send you any additional documents that may be required for your requested POE/MOE which you need to include in your application package.
2015 May 18: Received last Required Document in mail
The last document I was waiting for was my apostilled background check (a.k.a Criminal Record Check, CRC). This is the document which takes the longest because it required numerous steps. When this showed up in my mailbox I’m pretty sure I cried tears of happiness!
2015 May 19: Made copies and shipped everything to Korea
I went to Staples and made two copies of everything: one to send with my originals to Korea as required, and one for myself. Then I went straight to the UPS store and shipped them off to the EPIK office. It cost $84 to send everything >.< That was painful. I e-mailed my coordinator straight away that the package was on its way and included the shipping number.
2015 May 21: Documents delivered to the EPIK office successfully!
2015 June 10: Document processing completed. Entered the “Big Wait” phase.
My coordinator e-mailed me letting me know that my document processing had been completed and would be “placed in line for recommendation.” The e-mail explained that it would be another 3-4 weeks until they heard back from a POE/MOE that I was accepted and to be patient. Some people on the Facebook group were calling this period of the process the “Big Wait” as this was the start of the biggest and scariest waiting period (because there sure was a lot of waiting in this process!!).
2015 June 16: Fall 2015 Placement Document posted on the Facebook group
On this day we all learned that placements were starting to arrive at the EPIK office. EPIK uploaded a document to the Facebook group which listed each of the POE/MOEs that were accepting new EPIK teachers that term. The document is editable by anyone in the group. EPIK asked that when you get your placement, you add your name under the POE/MOE
We were also given this veryyy comforting information:
“All applicants should keep in mind that the results we receive each time do not encompass ALL of the available positions in a particular location. Each Office of Education typically processes their recommendations in batches and sends the results to us in waves. As such, placements in each location will continue in the coming weeks. We understand you all are anxious for results, but we ask for your continued patience and understanding regarding how the process in Korea works.”
2015 June 17: The first names start appearing on the Placement Document
Let’s be honest: The freak outs started!! Of course I got worried and scared. It’s hard not to! I don’t know what person wouldn’t start to feel worried when you see other people getting placements and your inbox has no new emails from EPIK. I started doubting my application and my credentials and thinking about all the “what if’s”. During this time I tried to stay as calm as possible.
2015 July 14: I realllllly start freaking out
Let’s be honest, I was freaking out the entire time. But almost 5 weeks after my documents were processed with no word from my coordinator, I was getting worried. I was worried because I wouldn’t have a whole lot of time to prepare my visa. I was also very stressed because every single day I was asked countless times about where I was teaching, and people expressed their concern about EPIK being a good program since they tell us something so important so late. No one understood that this is just how things work in Korea. All these questions and concerns really started to wear me down.
A member on the Facebook group reported that she had e-mailed her coordinator asking for an update and it had turned out that they had sent her her placement already but she never got it. So, against EPIKs wishes, I caved and e-mailed my coordinator a two sentence email. I said I was just checking in to see if there was anything he could update me with. I never got a response to this e-mail. However….
2015 July 15: I GOT MY PLACEMENT!!!
The day I never thought would come!!! It was about 11pm at night when I got a ‘ping’ sound from my inbox. I stared at it for a while not believing my eyes. “Successful Placement” was the subject of the e-mail. I opened it up and attached was a 1 page document with my placement: Busan! I didn’t cry until I called my grandmother and read the e-mail out loud to her. It was such a relief to finally know where I would be living and teaching!
The e-mail asked to confirm my address and phone number so that they could send the documents I would need for my visa.
EPIK sends my package via FedEx
That same night I got an email from Fedex that the package with the documents I would need for my visa was already on its way to me!
2015 July 16: Invited to Pre-Orientation
I received an e-mail from EnglishHunt that I was invited to EPIK’s Online Pre-Orientation. It included the log-in information that I would need. The e-mail indicated that Pre-Orientation needed to be completed by August 9th and that we needed to print the completion certification and bring it to orientation.
(I plan on writing a post about the pre-orientation, so look out for it on my Guide to EPIK page)!
2015 July 17: Received package from EPIK with Contract and NOA
The package included my NOA, Contract, and a document with instructions on how to fill out the application for the visa.
2015 July 20: Went to consulate applied for visa
I took the train into New York City and went to the Korean Consulate office. There was one person in front of me; I think I waited 5 minutes. The women checked my documents for a few minutes, then she handed me a ticket. The ticket said to return in exactly one week with the ticket to pick up my passport and visa.
2015 July 21: completed online orientation
I finished the last few classes of the Pre-Orientation and then printed my completion certification.
2015 July 27: Visa Done. Purchased flight
I wasn’t able to go into the city to pick up my visa on this day. However, I called the consulate office to confirm that my visa was completed and there were no issues. It was! So, I went ahead and finally purchased my flight ticket!
2015 July 31: picked up visa.
My mom and I were having a mother-daughter day in the city this day. Before starting our plans we went to the Korean Consulate to pick up my visa. This time I waited a very long time, over 45 minutes. When I had my passport back in my hands, with a new visa, it started to feel a little more real….but still not real enough!
2015 August 16: Depart for Korea
What?!?!?!!!!! It still doesn’t feel real!!!
I hope that this timeline helps future EPIK applicants understand the process and time period of different stages of the process. As always, things can differ each intake period and even within the intake. Don’t lose hope or feel defeated if you are waiting a long time in one stage. Stay positive! Don’t pester your EPIK coordinator! 🙂 And have faith that everything will work out in the end!