GoAbroad Interview

Andy Jack - Head of Product & Business Development

Andy combines his knowledge and passion of product development, e-learning, TEFL, and travel to lead i-to-i’s product and business development department. With i-to-i TEFL for over 10 years, Andy has become a staple to the organization’s success, through development of quality partnerships and continued dedication to creating program components that build even better international TEFL teachers.

How did you get connected to i-to-i TEFL?

It seems a long time ago since I first joined i-to-i (over 10 years now)! I remember coming across i-to-i during my university studies when I was looking at my options for overseas travel, and was always impressed by their options and approach. But rather than traveling with i-to-i TEFL, I ended up working for them (luckily I’ve since been able to travel significantly in my role at the company).

Eating a fried spider in China

Andy eating a fried spider in China!

What does a typical day as i-to-i TEFL Head of Product & Business Development look like?

A real mixed bag, every day can be very different. We really believe in making TEFL as accessible and achievable as possible, so all my work tends to be geared towards this in some shape or form. My day usually starts and ends with phone calls with our overseas partners due to the time-zones, and in between I’m usually working with our academic and product teams to develop our training courses or programs.

You work closely with i-to-i TEFL’s internship partners in Asia.  How do you go about selecting partners?

We’re very pleased to be working with our partners in China, Thailand, and Vietnam. We’ve worked with all of them for a number of years, and we believe that long-term partnerships with quality organizations are the best way to develop high-quality programs for our customers. All of our partners have extensive experience in both travel and education, and have strong operational capabilities in what can be a complex experience to deliver. All of our internship partners involve prior program participants in the delivery of the program, which ensures each new arrival can benefit from their experience; this makes a huge difference in the experience.

What’s the most fulfilling part about the relationship building you are able to do in your role?

I get to work with people from all different backgrounds and experiences, meaning I tend to learn something new in every conversation I have with our overseas partners. The most satisfying element is seeing our collaborations and hard work result in great customer feedback.

As the Head of Product & Business Development, you developed i-to-i TEFL’s latest course. Tell us about it and what gap it fills.

We know that for the vast majority of our customers, taking a TEFL course is merely the start of the journey for them. Ultimately, they want and expect their TEFL course to result in a job overseas. As such, this was the major focus in developing the new course.

We created a unique “eResume” facility, which helps our teachers promote themselves to potential employers. Employers value this as they can take a more detailed look at a potential employee than they would ever get from your typical paper or PDF resume. We also filmed a huge amount of teachers in action and built this into the course so our customers can really get a sense of what a TEFL classroom is all about and understand the context of their new skills.

Where do most i-to-i TEFL participants come from? What are the typical characteristics of participants in i-to-i’s programs?

We have participants from all around the world and from many different backgrounds. However, our customers do have many things in common. The TEFL course participants want to do a good job in the classroom and really have a positive impact on their students, and our courses prepare them for that. I’ve also found that many of our participants tend to be a bit bored with life at home, and a TEFL course is the perfect way to do something completely out of the norm.

Foreign teacher with students in Cambodia

Short teaching stint in outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia

What is the biggest highlight of i-to-i’s TEFL internship programs?

We often get rave reviews of the orientation week when our teachers first arrive. It’s the start of an amazing journey for them, and they get to do heaps of amazing things, like language lessons, with loads of like-minded people. Some people form some really strong friendships that tend to be their support network for the next few months.

“TEFL-ing” for the first time can be a bit of a bumpy ride to start with as there’s a huge amount to get used to, a new country, new lifestyle, new work environment, and new food. But once interns get into a rhythm (our partners are there to help them on this) they’ll make loads of their own memories.

What can TEFL internship program participants expect to take away from their program?

I can guarantee after five months on an internship program you’ll certainly not be the same again! It can be a very rewarding experience, life changing for some, and many of the interns I’ve spoken to after the program have mentioned the huge amount of confidence they have.  Many people end up staying on for another semester, TEFL in another country, or end up starting a new career.

It really can be the kick-start for a brand new direction in life.

What has been your biggest achievement as Head of Product & Business Development

We’ve come leaps and bounds in terms of our TEFL training programs. We’ve invested a huge amount of time, effort, and cash into these programs in the last couple of years and it’s really having a positive effect on the skills and confidence our teachers have heading into their first job. It has also been great to widen the range of experiences we have through the internship programs to make that first step into teaching English as a foreign language much less difficult.

What is the best part about working for i-to-i TEFL?

Knowing that what we do has a huge ripple effect for many people. Teachers have an amazing experience, and in turn their students really improve their English language competency. It’s a lot of responsibility, but we like to think we really deliver on this.

Do you have any further plans to expand programming or courses that we should know about? What does the future hold for i-to-i?

We’re currently in discussions to open up new programs with reputable partners across Asia and South America, so watch this space!