Interac

  www.interacnetwork.com
  www.interacnetwork.com

Interac Reviews

Updated December 11, 2014
Updated December 11, 2014
60 Reviews
2.7
60 Reviews
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Review Highlights

Pros
  • Get to live and work in Japan and experience the culture (not to be confused with the Western idea of Japanese culture) (in 4 reviews)

  • Higher pay than most other dispatch companies (in 5 reviews)


Cons
  • As a contract (read: not full time) employee, you have to pay the full cost of your own health insurance, which is mandatory in Japan (in 5 reviews)

  • Job was marketed as part-time 30sh hours; was expected to work 40 (in 5 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Not a bad job, but not a career.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Assistant Language Teacher
    Former Employee - Assistant Language Teacher

    I worked at Interac as a contractor

    Pros

    Potential for good work-life balance--ALTs aren't subject to the same 'voluntary overtime' that regular teachers are, and my workday was only usually 7 hours long, including lunch. I taught in two elementary schools in a large city, and in general it was a very positive experience. If there were any major problems, the company was willing to go to bat for the teacher to work things out with a school. The teachers at my schools were enthusiastic and helpful, but that is entirely dependent on the school. You make a living wage, although not an extravagant one, and it's a lot less work than an eikaiwa sort of situation. The Head Teacher and other ALTs in my area were great people, and even though we worked in different schools, we got together outside of work.

    Cons

    As a contract (read: not full time) employee, you have to pay the full cost of your own health insurance, which is mandatory in Japan. Employment is contract to contract, and there aren't opportunities to advance unless one is fluent in Japanese. Salaries do not change year-to-year, and there is no bonus for recontracting. The entire job experience varies based on what schools you are placed in, and it's very difficult to get moved out of a difficult school unless the school is dissatisfied with the teacher, not the other way around. Interac provides materials, but some schools have their own curricula, and some leave you more or less on your own to plan. At the elementary level, most teachers don't speak English, which can lead to communication issues. The company is interested in maintaining good relationships with the schools, so teachers are expected to bear with things like chronic sudden schedule changes, homeroom teachers not controlling their students, and etc. Interac does not provide or help teachers find housing, so unless you're already in the country you need to have several thousand dollars available to cover the costs of finding and furnishing an apartment. You are also only paid once a month, for the previous month's work, so if you start in March, your first paycheck doesn't hit your bank account until the end of April.

  2. 1 person found this helpful  

    Leave your dignity at the door.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - ALT
    Former Employee - ALT

    I worked at Interac part-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    --You have some say in where you are placed. You are much less likely to end up in the middle of nowhere than you would be with JET.

    --LeoPalace Apartments are decent, and reasonably priced.

    --Easy way into Japan

    --They pretty much do all the immigration legwork for you.

    Cons

    --Toxic workplace culture.

    --They sell you on being a teacher, but you're not a teacher. You are a human tape recorder, and you WILL be told that you are not doing that simple task well enough. You will not be respected. You're a dancing monkey who will be discouraged from actually trying to teach.

    --I was bored to tears most of the time. Lots of sitting around in the teacher's room, and lot's of standing around in the classroom waiting for the JTE to tell you to repeat something.

    --Coworkers will tell you you're doing well, while complaining to Interac about you.

    --Deceptive salary information (probably the most egregious thing about the company). You are required to work over 40 hours a week, but only get paid for 29.5 hours, because they don't want to have to provide the free insurance. Not only is your salary prorated in August and December, but your first month's salary will be prorated without your knowledge, because you didn't work every weekday in that particular month. I am pretty sure their business practices are illegal, even in Japan.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    There's no advice I could really give them, because they're functioning exactly how they want to.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Glad I went with Interac when I became an ALT

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Assistant Language Teacher
    Former Employee - Assistant Language Teacher

    I worked at Interac full-time

    Pros

    Great help setting up apartment, utilities, cellphone, bank account. Training was memorable and lengthy. Nice consistency in scheduling (you know your overall schedule at the start of every year for a year). Genuinely want you to have a good experience at your schools (which you are very integrated into). Facebook group that connects Interac ALTs all over Japan. Compared to experiences of friends from other ALT companies, mine at Interac seemed superior.

    Cons

    Team teaching is frowned upon, so you either have to do it on the down low or learn to teach completely on your own. Taking vacations outside of the appointed holidays in Japan is a touchy subject. Little assistance in the way of non-school/housing related happenings; you must do these things independently: home country taxes, visiting government offices for some forms (visa renewal, moving, etc) and moving back home (learn some Japanese for these situations).

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Dedicated translation service for non-Japanese speaking ALTs for documents, hospital visits, etc. Improvement on the usage of paid holidays.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great time in Japan - a terrific experience working abroad

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Assistant Language Teacher
    Former Employee - Assistant Language Teacher

    I worked at Interac full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    - Interac hires Assistant Language Teachers and provides them with full support. I have heard of JET employees who felt like their liasons were distant and didn't provide them with much help when they were struggling. Interac assigns every ALT a bilingual IC (I still don't know what the acronym is for) who helps you with your initial apartment setup and school visits, and is then available for the remainder of your time with the company. Whenever you have a problem, you just call your IC, and they do their best to help you out. Mine gave me a vacuum cleaner and a rice cooker that her friend was getting rid of, helped me at the police station when I lost a wallet, and even took my girlfriend and me on a tour of a religious site in Nara over Christmas break. My friend had an IC who helped him with all sorts of car trouble.
    -They don't screen people out for capricious reasons like JET seems to do on occasion.
    - Your working hours are capped at 29.5 hours/week (at least they were when I was there) and you don't have to stay at school late.
    - Good vacation policy.
    - Management and training personnel were always supportive.
    - You get to teach in Japan! If that is a dream of yours, Interac can make it come true.

    Cons

    DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED BY THE LIST OF CONS BELOW. It looks longer than the pros above, but this is only because I felt more specificity was needed in explaining some cons than I did for the pros.
    - Salary is lower than JET. On the other hand, this is basically the reason boards of education are hiring ALTs through Interac in the first place. If this were not so, you wouldn't be getting a job and an amazing experience in Japan through Interac.
    - Supposedly the "Leo Palace" chain they set you up with for your apartment is overpriced, and there are rumors that Interac profits on the deal. I can't really substantiate these, but that was what I heard while living there. I've heard of people finding cheaper, more spacious apartments on their own and not going with the Leo Palace ones.
    - You don't get paid until the end of your second month teaching there. At the end of each month, you are paid for the *previous* month's work. This means during your first two months of teaching + two weeks of training and setup, you will have no income. There are fees associated with renting the apartment that are very expensive. A lot of friends were scraping by on ramen or writing/wiring home for money towards the end of the second month. I think the company recommends you bring $5000 with you when you come over; do it.
    - Interac wants you to go through them for everything. You are not supposed to deal directly with the administration of your school regarding scheduling or telling them when your contract is ending. This is usually not a problem. Interac does a good job making your schedule with the administration. However, when stuff comes up, it can be a little tricky not being able to deal with the administration. When I discovered, just before second period one day, that I had lost my wallet on my bike ride to school, I panicked and told the administration of my school, and they were very helpful and relieved me from my duties to go back and search for the wallet. Interac was later unhappy that I didn't call them instead of telling the school, but it wasn't a big deal--I wasn't in trouble or anything. They also failed to tell my schools when my contract was ending, and I wasn't allowed to tell the schools myself, but I finally had to because the misconceptions of people at some schools were just too large. On my last day at one school, teachers and students were saying things like, "See you next year!" and I had to break down and tell them I was sorry, I was leaving after my contract expired at the end of the month, and the company was supposed to inform them of this a while ago. The company wasn't upset when I did this, though, because it was their mistake. Bottom line: Try to abide by Interac's "Don't deal with the school yourself; we'll handle it" rule, but you won't be in trouble if you break it when necessary. The company really did appreciate my efforts to abide by the rule and even mentioned it positively in a letter of recommendation I got from them.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If the delayed payment setup can be altered, do it. Otherwise, the company is a pleasure to work for.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  6. 5 people found this helpful  

    Stand up or get steamrolled

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - AET
    Former Employee - AET

    I worked at Interac as a contractor (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    - Lots of time off. While you only technically get 5 paid holidays, you get five weeks off in the summer and about a week off in December and March. Japan also has many public holidays. Of course under the typical contract Interac doesn't pay you in full for the longer breaks (more on this in the cons)

    - You can get lucky and land in a school or schools that actually understands the terms of your contract, allowing you to leave at 3:30 every day. If you live in a city, this gives you an opportunity to get a part time job teaching for a company that dispatches to corporate offices. There is good money in this, about $40 U.S./hour, just don't tell Interac as it is technically a violation of your contract.

    - They reimburse your transportation to and from work

    - They have positions in the major cities. Don't expect to be hired from abroad to work in one as there are too many expat English teachers already there, but you may be able to transfer after putting your time in out in the sticks

    - Their refusal to offer legally required benefits is a mixed bag. While you will have to pay more if you want to join the national health insurance, not paying into the national pension scheme means you will have more money left in your paycheck

    - Some branches are more competently managed than others

    - You will typically have plenty of free time during the day; best to use it studying the Japanese language

    - All AET companies are more or less equally bad; at least you should get paid

    Cons

    - The pay is low, and seems to have gotten even lower than since when I was there

    - They will nickle and dime you every chance they get. An example: When I first moved to Japan with them, I made the mistake of having them coordinate my living arrangements. The coordinator that went to the rental agency with me assured me the apartment came with no key money (basically a security deposit that you have no chance of seeing again). As I was moving out a few months later (I transferred from one branch to another), I was told I needed to pay back the key money they had fronted me. They also told me I was responsible for a portion of a cleaning fee, even though another AET was moving in after me and the apartment was not being cleaned. I reacted the way one should react when dealing with this company; I went through the roof, literally screamed on the phone at them that I was never told they were fronting any money for me and that I was not paying to fix a hole in the wall the next guy may or may not put there. After repeating this tirade to two or three different people, I succeeded and was charged no additional fees.

    I repeat, this is the right way to react because they will screw you and you need to stand up for yourself. Another point of advice is to be as independent as possible. If you know a Japanese person who can guarantee your apartment, find your own. Don't put yourself in a position where you are dependent on them for the roof over your head if you can help it because if there is a problem, regardless of whether or not it is your fault, they will drop you. Get your own health insurance. If you sign up for the health plan they offer, Global Health, on your own, it is actually slightly cheaper because Interac skims a few bucks off the top every month.

    - The monthly pay they promise is actually only honored 9 months out of the year. They pay you 75% in December and 60% in one of the summer months (when you're basically off the whole time. They don't pay you for the week in March at the end of your contract when you are basically not an employee until the new contract starts a week later. I was fortunately not put in this situation, because I was lucky enough to get one of very few "English promotion school" positions where they paid you in full every month (except the time in March when I was without a contract), but the 60% summer month is especially difficult. After paying an average rent, insurance and utility you won't have more than a couple $100 in your pocket for the month. This puts you in a position where you have to start saving a few months in advance just to eat that month; not exactly the travel experience you may be hoping for.

    - You will often be assigned to many schools, and if they're in the countryside they'll often be far apart, requiring a lot of driving. If you come from the U.S., especially the warmer parts, you may be in for a rude awakening. While the roads are generally well maintained they also wind up and down mountains, often without guardrails. If you live in the mountains be prepared for some whiteknuckle drives through the snow. It also makes it hard to connect with students you may only see once or twice a month.

    - The initial training and the monthly training meetings afterwards are a joke, do they do provide an opportunity to meet up with fellow AETs and go out after.

    - Being an AET can become pretty soul-destroying after a while. From Interac's perspective, your job is not to teach English at all; it's to keep the BOE happy.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I don't even know where to begin.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  7.  

    So so

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - ALT in Kōbe, Hyogo (Japan)
    Current Employee - ALT in Kōbe, Hyogo (Japan)

    I have been working at Interac

    Pros

    Its a Good start in japan

    Cons

    Work over 30 hours a week but the company does not pay social or health insurance. (This is technically illigal)

    School ask me to work over time. Interac wont pay you. Tells you to volunteer.

    No pay in summer winter or spring vacation

    No pay rise

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
  8.  

    An easy job to start with in Japan

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Assistant Language Teacher in Tokyo (Japan)
    Former Employee - Assistant Language Teacher in Tokyo (Japan)

    I worked at Interac as a contractor (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    I worked as an ALT (assistant language teacher). Work-life balance was good, you can go home on time and there is no overtime. If you want to see what public schools in Japan is like, this is a perfect way to experience it. If you land in a good school with great students and teachers, you'll have a blast.

    Cons

    The training is not helpful and there are no health or social insurance benefits. It's definitely not a long term job, you'll get tired of it after a year or two. The monthly meetings are not very useful and poorly designed. Very disorganized management and they don't really care about the teachers much so learn to stand up for yourself when working here - they will try to take advantage of you.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You need a more organized system and workflow. You can decrease staff turnover rates, if you paid more attention to your employees and took better care of them.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Excellent Company

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Language Consultant in Tokyo (Japan)
    Former Employee - Language Consultant in Tokyo (Japan)

    I worked at Interac full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great Company to work for, Loads of opportunities , Great Staff, Great way to work and travel.
    I would highly recommend Interac as they have fantastic training and career opportunities around Japan. The team is very understanding and always helpful.

    Cons

    Sick leave is very limited and part payment for summer holidays can make it difficult to budget at times. You must submit time sheets every week and it pays to understand Japanese employer laws and tax in order to get the most out of your experience. Unfortunately this is up to you not your employer.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Really value your employees even further. ALT's and LC's work very hard and keep the company running not staff in head office. Consider having better benefits.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Can be good, or Hell

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - ESL Teacher in Yokohama, Kanagawa (Japan)
    Former Employee - ESL Teacher in Yokohama, Kanagawa (Japan)

    I worked at Interac full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Lines of communication are OK. The training week is good for preparing for the job as well as meeting other people in your same situation (other teachers). Generally accommodating as far as assigning schools in a reasonable distance.

    Cons

    They are very clear about always taking the side of the Japanese school over the foreign teacher. They will sell you out in a second, over nothing. Turnover is high - even among the office staff - even among the Japanese office staff! Then, there's the classic not-paying-for-insurance and gyomu-itaku and 29.5-hours-a-week-that-don't-include-lunch-times-or-5-minute-breaks-between-classes things...

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Grow some balls. Stand up as a respectable business instead of grovelling for contracts every year. It'd be amazing if Interac would take their huge company and make a huge change by actually offering health insurance (real, Japanese health insurance) to their employees.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    The schools were great, but he company a let-down.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Assistant English Teacher in Kitakyūshū (Japan)
    Former Employee - Assistant English Teacher in Kitakyūshū (Japan)

    I worked at Interac

    Pros

    Experience will differ. It's not a bad experience in itself. If you are a grin and bear it type you will survive for some time. The Japanese office staff is usually courteous. You can find something truly meaningful working in Japanese public schools, but if it is with interac, you will find that most of your time is taken up with trying to appeal to the humane side of most personnel at the upper strata of the administration.

    Cons

    People at the top are not chosen based on competence. The manager, MC, trainers etc. are chosen based on friendship (never underestimate the power of networking).. Scant disregard for employees. No interpersonal skills. If you try to negotiate with them for better working conditions, you are directly told that many desperate people are out there ready to take your place, so take it or leave it.

    The term 'ALT meeting' is a sham. It is a term used to give the impression, to the BOE, that teachers are being trained.
    At 'ALT meetings', there aren't any form of substantial training. The 'trainers' just give each teacher a task and when it is finished there is no constructive criticism. Even when it is obvious that the teacher needs help, they just clap and another teacher may comment, but no feedback to provide improvement. I always wonder who trains the trainer.

    At the exact end of the contract teachers are chased out of the apartments that Interac acts as a guarantor. Teachers are required to teach up to the last day with little time to make moving arrangements.

    At the end of the contract you are told to sign a RESIGNATION form. They have no scruples with lying. It has become second nature to those at the top. As a matter of fact, it seems like a pre-requisite (ability to lie convincingly) for most administrative positions.

    THE KITAKYUSHU CITY BOARD OF EDUCATION (BOE) IS SLEEPING. HOPE THEY WAKE SOON.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If you really endorse education in Japan, stop giving the impression that you are only in it for the money/profit. You need to make money, yes. However, try to act with compassion and not like programmed robots. Choose your administrative staff wisely. Friendship is good, but business and pleasure rarely work well together. Pick your staff, because they have the ability to get the work done while practising desirable people skills.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

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