Interac

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Interac Reviews

Updated September 3, 2014
Updated September 3, 2014
52 Reviews
2.9
52 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  

    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
  3. 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 for less than a 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
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  5. 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 for 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
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    English Language Instructor (ALT)

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

    I have been working at Interac as a contractor for more than 3 years

    Pros

    You can see Japan, not long work hours, and you make a living wage for the first year.

    Cons

    After the first year of the contract, you will be "fired" and offered a new contract with the company. The second year you work, you will have to pay a lot of new taxes that you didn't have to pay for in your first year. The taxes make your living wage barely livable with the growing cost of living in the country. Salary will not increase based on the years you put in.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    A raise or some type of incentive to address the growing cost of living for employees that have worked with the company for more than a few years.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    A Horrible Experience from Start to Finsh

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

    I worked at Interac full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    You get to go to Japan and experience a deep immersion in the culture.
    They assign you a very friendly native Japanese handler to assist with shopping and anything else you need personally when there was a language barrier.
    One of the few companies that allow you to take your spouse with you and remote positions will rent you out a car for personal/professional use.
    If you really want, you can rent an apartment that isn't a LeoPalace with local real estate agents.

    Cons

    The cons were everything else other than being in Japan itself. From the start, you'll have to pay for your own plane tickets, transportation, and relocation costs (trains tickets and the baggage fees).

    Training is wherever your 'headquarters' is located even if your teaching town is miles away. You will be forced to pay for your own hotel accommodations during training as well as any fees associated with your apartment while teaching. This business will try everything they can to nickle and dime your already small paycheck with surprise charges. My first check had my hotel bill and rent taken out leaving me with barely over $200 to survive on for the month which meant I also had to pay my utilities on my own. The hotel during training was horrid with a high price tag.

    Coming out of the Hamamatsu area, my direct manager at Interac was just an overall bully. He was unhappy with his own job and did not offer any assistance at all. Instead, every meeting consisted of threats of being fired and how poor of a job I was doing teaching. When I did ask for assistance, I was spammed with threatening emails. When I would call and leave a message, they were often ignored. Of the three teachers placed in my area. two of us left as soon our contract was over, the replacements and the third teacher quit soon after.

    During my time there, I was told by the Japanese teachers how boring the Interac 'official' lessons were and I had to spend every day making my own. When I would teach my original ones that the Japanese teachers and students enjoyed, I would be threatened by my direct boss at Interac. It was a lose/lose situation.

    Working hours will vary, but we are told we work 'part-time', but my school required a 7 AM arrival with a nearly 6 PM departure which means I was working 11 hour days, 5 days a week with a salary 'part-time', no benefits pay rate. Not even your insurance is covered.

    I was sad to leave the country, but not upset at all for leaving this company. This practices are atrocious and taking advantage of the very relaxed laws involving foreigners and working conditions.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The way you pay your teacher is ridiculous. The pay scale is low considering we still have to pay for the car rental and living conditions. The managers you hire because they simply married a Japanese native are terrible, rude, mean, and outright incompetent. You allow them to threaten your teachers and wave it over their heads that if they quit, they have to leave the country on their own dime, but Interac doesn't pay for anything in the first place and has zero benefits.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    OK alternative to JET as long as you don't have to interact with "Interac"

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

    I worked at Interac full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Job is fun and you feel like your making a difference. If you want to live in Japan for 1-2 years it's great, but not a career. They have a website with many teaching materials resources., which you can supplement from other websites.

    Cons

    I feel like they bait and switched my compensation. Their advertise a pay range, but no matter your experience the pay is the same throughout Japan. The compensation is low the range of what they advertise and about 75%-80% of what JET pays. Unlike JET you also don't get subsidized housing or reimbursed for your airfare. Taking that into consideration the compensation is much much less than JET. They have training sessions but once school starts you are pretty much on your own, so it's kind of sink or swim.
    There is no upward mobility, you'll be stuck with the same pay and usually same job if you re-contract.
    They give you 5 sick days and 5 days of vacation, but they get to choose which days (what?).

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Don't treat your employees as English speaking cattle.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
  9.  

    Great

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

    I have been working at Interac full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Lot's of support regarding practical classroom applications from experienced staff.

    Cons

    Not really able to negotiate or change study materials provided.

    Recommends
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Good for gaining entrance into ALT jobs 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 full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Depending on the type of teaching contract you sign, you will either have complete control of your lessons or little say in how you can conduct your classes. My Japanese coworkers were very accommodating to my needs in regards to lessons.

    Cons

    They tend to leave you on your own once you start working and were of little help when it came to opening/closing bank accounts/apartment issues. I had to struggle with them to get days off when I was sick and nearly hospitalized.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Your employees will very likely not know Japanese, so be a little more empathetic to their needs when it regards to interpersonal issues that get lost in translation.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great Opportunity, Supportive Staff

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

    I worked at Interac full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Great and painless chance to start a new life in Japan. The company goes through great lengths to make their employees satisfied--everything is basically taken care of for you before you land, and anything else (bank account etc) is taken care of by local staff with you along for the ride. Depending on where you're placed, it"s also a great chance to kick off your life in Tokyo, if that's your goal. After living in my near-Tokyo countryside location for a year, I moved to Tokyo, and the company paid for my transportation costs for the year that I lived here.

    The staff is usually there to answer any questions you have. But sometimes you have to poke them a bit. I don't blame them, they have to deal with a lot of people.

    As far as the actual work goes, how much you like it depends on your attitude, but also depends on your school. I got a somewhat troublesome school, but it also had a lot of character and interesting students and teachers, so it was a good time. It's a great opportunity to test your language skills and get better at Japanese via interactions with students and staff. While the character of the school may vary, the rest is what you make of it, and I recommend making a lot of it--working in a Japanese school was one of the best experiences in my life. Join one of the school clubs. Get to know the teachers. Talk to the kids. It'll be worth it, and you'll learn a lot about Japanese workplace culture and normal everyday culture.

    At the very least, you have a work visa, and that goes a long way to starting your new life in Japan.

    Cons

    Pay is pretty lousy if you actually want to have a fun life, so try to find a part-time gig quick. It gets pretty tough in summer and winter (also spring) so you may want to save up.

    Other con is that you could really get flung into the middle of nowhere.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Maybe offer teachers more part-time gigs? I think the lack of payment is really what puts people off. Just cover that somehow and you're fine as far as I'm concerned.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

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