Teach For China Reviews

Updated March 14, 2015
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  1. Not a bad opportunity for college students who wants to make a difference

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Intern - Campus Ambassador
    Current Intern - Campus Ambassador

    I have been working at Teach For China as an intern (more than a year)

    Pros

    You get to work according to your own schedule, strengthens communication skills, you're working towards a meaningful cause

    Cons

    Work may be tedious at times, especially with a lot of emails and candidate sourcing

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Need to have a more systematic way of approach for campus ambassadors

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  2. TFC Fellow

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

    I worked at Teach For China full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    - adventure
    - great people
    - impact lives

    Cons

    -poor upper management leadership
    -unclear vision

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

    You will never have a job quite like this in your lifet.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Teaching Fellow
    Current Employee - Teaching Fellow

    I have been working at Teach For China

    Pros

    You will make meaningful connections with students and community and immensely grow as an individual. The fellows you work with will be some of the most amazing and inspiring people you will ever meet.

    Cons

    Fellow support is weak and praise is not always given when it is due. Professional standards are low. Overall vision is often lacking. Training responsibility is given to fellows who are not always qualified themselves.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
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  5. 3 people found this helpful

    Amazing teachers whose effectiveness is hamstrung by poor leadership and dysfunctional culture.

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

    I worked at Teach For China full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    You get to work with some of the most amazing talent college talent that China and America have to offer. Teaching fellows are full of energy and all care deeply about the cause. Also, living out in the regions is an exciting experience that very few people can get. The lessons you learn from the remote corner of the world that the program operates in will stay with you for the rest of your life.

    Because of the prestige of the program associated with its 'international' characteristic, you'll get access to pretty much any professional network you want in the regions. There are some very interesting businesses operations in Yunnan related to tea, tobacco and TCM herbs that you can learn a lot about. Personally, I also learn a lot about infrastructure development and supply chain management as well. You wouldn't think you could learn about this in such a remote and 'underdeveloped' area, but there's really a gold mine of knowledge out there to be had.

    Cons

    Teach For China leadership makes it almost impossible to work at this organization. Honestly, my happiest moments at this organization were spent incommunicado on top of a mountain without cell phone reception or internet It was there that I could focus on my work instead of getting angry at whatever half-baked idea the senior leadership was trying to promulgate.

    The way Teach For China makes decisions is emblematic of the general criticism of non-profits. That is, without a profit bottom line as a measure of accountability, it's very easy to fall into the trap of engaging in pet project activities that sound great on paper but are completely ineffectual in reaching our intended impact. I can't tell you how many times we would gather for meetings to listen to the next 'new' initiative that was being rolled out as a priority for staff and fellows to accomplish. One semester it's data, the next it's oral English, and the next it's drive to push fellows into entrepreneurial post-fellowship tracks. Of course, most of these initiatives, handed down to the regions from the head office Beijing, run out of steam within a semester because they are usually completely impractical and do not receive any buy in from regional actors. I remember attending one conference to find out that our core values had suddenly changed.

    I'm quite negative for this company's growth in the long run. Fellows' effectiveness is hampered because of a lack of a unified strategy and because of all of the distracting initiatives that exhaust their energies in trivial pursuits. TFC has an excellent marketing department that does wonders for our image to the outside world, but real growth and especially impact will be sclerotic at best if the organization continues under it's current direction.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Board needs to keep the senior leadership accountable, and not be beguiled by the pretty reports coming from the head office. They need to ask hard questions about impact, and they need to reign in the unbridled optimism of the Beijing team that has led to many boneheaded decisions. I would recommend the board to counterbalance the information they receive with input from people working in the regions.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  6. Interesting opportunities roughly executed

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

    I have been working at Teach For China

    Pros

    Teaching fellows are fun, interesting, creative and spirited. This experience provides one a look into the "real" China so many others miss out on.

    Cons

    Living in a rural Chinese village with little outlet for a social life outside of your work wears you down after a semester or two -- teaching at the high level of rigor demanded is extremely exhausting and difficult to maintain. Senior leadership seems divorced from fellows' reality.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  7. IntIInernIntern

    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern

    I worked at Teach For China as an intern (less than a year)

    Pros

    The office is filled with amazing and dedicated individuals who are clearly very passionate about what they do. There is a casual atmosphere- coworkers are more like friends and help each other out.

    Cons

    I did not find any cons during my time interning at the office. It was relaxed, but at the same time, I was given assignments that had time deadlines.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The work you guys do is inspiring. Thank you!

  8. 2 people found this helpful

    Great cause, but this job is not for everyone

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

    I worked at Teach For China

    Pros

    - Matures you really quickly because of challenges faced in classroom and every other aspect of living in rural China. Gives you a lot of perspective that will help you in other areas of life.
    - Because organization is young, there is a lot of room for creative solutions and innovation, and you can be sure that your ideas/input will be heard.
    - You begin to understand the life of a "real" Chinese person from an impoverished rural area, which helps you understand the country as a whole. This perspective may also help you later if you decide to do business in China, as many of your colleagues (even in wealthier areas such as Beijing) will have come from a rural and less-wealthy background.

    Cons

    - Just because you studied abroad in Beijing for a semester in college and are passionate about Chinese politics or education reform doesn't mean you're fit for a TFC teaching fellowship. Make sure your mental and physical health is in tip-top shape before considering this job, because the extreme isolation of rural China, the harsh living conditions, and the stress of having to perform well (with measurable results) in an alien environment can get overwhelming to the ordinary fresh-out-of-college grad.
    - Due to how young organization is, much of the support staff is somewhat inexperienced. Also, information given is often contradictory or changed at the last minute. Might be due in part to mainland Chinese cultural norms that this is the case, but that doesn't make it any easier for the fellows who are sweating it out in the field.
    - As the title of this review says, it's a great cause, but the job is not for everyone.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Worry less about saving face and more about the well-being of each fellow. This will trickle down and benefit students.

  9. It's quite an experience, but think long and hard about if it's what you want personally.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Teaching Fellow in Kunming (China)
    Current Employee - Teaching Fellow in Kunming (China)

    I have been working at Teach For China full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    Getting to experience a part of China other people other people don't. Once in a lifetime chance. Good vacation time

    Cons

    Staff needs improvement. Visa issues. Pay is low.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Be more transparent and responsive to fellows. Pay fellows more.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
  10. Awesome experience, just know what you are signing up for

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - 7th Grade Teaching Fellow in Baoshan, Yunnan (China)
    Current Employee - 7th Grade Teaching Fellow in Baoshan, Yunnan (China)

    I have been working at Teach For China

    Pros

    TFC did a much better job this year of placing its fellows in ways that would aid retention; awesome group of people in the Fellow Pool and the (young) organization gets more logistically savvy every year.

    Cons

    Going in, there were lots of horror stories about fellows getting royally screwed by their placement schools and being "abandoned" by TFC.  This really only happened with one school in the most recent cohort, and the circumstances were a little strange/unforeseeable.  There is a lot of grumbling about incompetence in middle management, but I personally think that a lot of this is just displaced frustration - they are doing their best. 

    In terms of other "cons," just educate yourself thoroughly about the challenges of living in rural China.  You will not be comfortable, and you have to stay sharp - volunteers at even nicer teaching placements with other organizations have (literally) died out here, so you need to constantly monitor your health and mental fitness.  Expect initial problems with dehydration, protein deficiency, etc.  Bathrooms and bedrooms might be uncomfortable, and you are going to be roughing it.  Also prepare for extreme isolation a lot of the time, with not many outlets for a normal love/social life.  Watch "I am Legend" or "Moon" to prep.  Haha.

    That being said, most TFC fellows join up because there is some desire in them to be adventurous and tough in a context that really only TFC fellows ever get to experience.  It's a lot like joining the military - the experience is going to suck in a lot of ways, but you do it because you can derive meaning and happiness from staying afloat amid the challenges.  And the adage "Fellows help Fellows" is law - on the occasions every few weeks that you do get to see your fellow friends, the meetups are incredibly warm and memorable.

    Additionally, your students have typically grown up in families without educational backgrounds, so do not go in expecting them to be well-behaved.  They are probably a little more responsive to authority than in comparable areas in the US (due to culture, corporal punishment, etc), but class management issues will be a constant challenge. You alone are responsible for discipline (the principal doesn't handle that kind of stuff), so you are going to get emotionally rocked sometimes by the stuff you have to do to get them to behave (obviously no corporal punishment, but writing lines, long lectures, standing in the corner is common. Just the way it is here, and it's ultimately laxer than the methods local teachers employ). That being said, you will quickly fall in love with them and have lots of little friends. Lot of special little folks out here.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    (just more advice for incoming fellows)
    I think it is also worth warning incoming fellows that they must be capable of remaining content and happy amidst a work environment which, schedule-wise, has almost no parallels to anything back home. Cumulatively you will probably work 45 hours a week, but your work-hours are scattered and arguably self-determined. On some days you will have almost no classes, and on others, upwards of 7 or 8. Given that TFC fellows typically live on their school's campus, "free time" also becomes an uneasy mixture of work and play. A lot of my time outside of the classroom is split between an amalgam of lesson-planning, grading, and personal activities like reading or watching a movie. I can say for sure that the competing desires to both work hard but also reserve time for myself are harder to compartmentalize in this kind of environment, where I am constantly reminded of my job but also have a lopsided schedule that gives me a great deal of personal choice in how I spend my time. As a result, there are moments in the course of a single week where you will feel absurdly bored (and a bit lazy) but also days where you feel stressed and I-am-going-insane busy. I feel that it can be mentally difficult to rationalize this kind of lifestyle and relate the TFC experience to office jobs - or even teaching jobs - back home, where there is a much clearer delineation between "home" and the "office," and schedules are more consistent. All of this can be overcome, but just go into the experience ready to face this kind of challenge. You‘re going to feel like you’re alone on a Moon base without supervision - get ready.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  11. 1 person found this helpful

    Passionate work environment. Family and friends run nonprofit organisation.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Beijing, Beijing (China)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Beijing, Beijing (China)

    I worked at Teach For China full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    Big vision - really aims to resolve problems in the education system in China. Good model - leadership program for teaching fellows. Young and energetic employees - passionate about the vision, work relentlessly and good team bounding.

    Cons

    The top management are consisted of family and friends of the CEO. It is very hard to gain the trust of the CEO just by performance or hard working. Performance management is not linked to promotion - you need to be either very close to the top management, or you have to constantly ask for promotion opportunities, get exposure to the top management and push for decisions. Promotion processes are not fair.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    To the CEO: the organisation is not your baby. Move your eyes from your close friends for a minute and think of the staff who really have the experience, potential and willingness to help you grow. The smiles you love to see in the morning may just be very small part of the awesomeness of the office. Those who work relentlessly to clear the sh*t may be too busy to smile to you or may care more about solving the problems rather than making you feel better in the morning. You are losing key talents! Think about why.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook

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