GoAbroad Interview

Katherine Hackett - Marketing Manager

Katherine first fell in love with the idea of teaching abroad during her time at university. She had traveled a lot before, and had taken a gap year in Spain, Japan, and Australia. After graduating, Katherine was keen to live overseas again, and after working in marketing for a few years, she headed overseas to teach in South Korea. When she returned, Katherine applied to become part of the marketing team at i-to-i and the rest is history!

You spent time teaching English in South Korea after graduating from university, how did you get connected to i-to-i TEFL?

I’d heard of i-to-i TEFL from my time teaching in Korea. In fact, lots of the teachers I knew had trained to teach English with them. When I returned to the UK, I saw that they were hiring for their marketing team and they were looking for someone with both marketing and TEFL experience. I thought I fit the bill fairly well, so I applied. I remember going into their offices and just thinking everyone was really friendly and passionate about making TEFL accessible. That really appealed to me, so I took the job and I’ve been here for two and a half years now! 

Tiger cub in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hanging out with a tiger cub in Chiang Mai, Thailand

You’re in charge of communicating i-to-i TEFL’s brand and offerings to the masses, what does a typical day look like as Marketing Manager?

I get in around 8:30 a.m. and help myself to some Nutella and peanut butter on toast from our communal kitchen; it’s the breakfast of kings! Then, I check our social channels to make sure that any of our customers or potential TEFLers have had their questions answered by the team. Every month we have a campaign running to expose TEFL to new audiences or to engage our current TEFLers, so quite a lot of my time will be spent organizing this and all of the things associated with it: emails, landing pages, social assets, videos, etc. There are also quite a few web-based projects that I manage, as we’re constantly trying to improve the customer’s experience when they come to our website.

In all of your marketing experience, what is i-to-i TEFL’s unique value proposition when comparing your programs to others?

That our courses are designed, from start to finish, to get you a teaching job abroad. We’re the only TEFL course provider that offers a job guarantee; if you take our course and don’t get a job, we’ll give you your course fee back. That’s how confident we are that with our TEFL training and the support of our specialist jobs team, that employers will want to hire you. Imagine if universities or colleges did that?! 

Lake Baikal, Siberia

At Lake Baikal in Siberia

What are the biggest myths about the TEFL industry? How do you help change people’s perceptions of the TEFL industry?

A lot of people have the perception that in the TEFL industry you have to have a degree or some form of teaching experience to get started, but that’s simply not true. In 95 percent of cases, a good quality TEFL qualification will be enough to get you a job overseas.

There’s also the view that only brand new graduates go and teach English abroad, but this is also not accurate. Lots of the teachers that we work with have been in a career for five to ten years and are just looking for a change of scenery and to do something meaningful!

So, the type of content that addresses the common myths around the TEFL industry tends to do really well. In fact, our most read article on the blog is around where you can teach without a degree.

How do you use your experience teaching abroad to effectively communicate i-to-i TEFL’s message to the public?

I think that most people thinking of going to teach abroad are a little bit nervous, and rightly so! It’s a life-changing decision to make (even if you’re only going for a few months), and having experienced it myself, I can remember all of the millions of questions I had. 

This means that I try and make sure that within our team no question is too small or too silly, whether it’s on our blog, by email, or across our social channels. It’s our job to make sure that every one of our prospective TEFL participants feels comfortable and confident that they’re in safe hands with i-to-i. 

Red Square, Moscow

Kat in Red Square, Moscow

What has been your most memorable moment or experience in your role with i-toi?

Oooh, good question! With a job like this, you do get a lot of rewarding feedback from people who have gone to teach abroad. There was one man who wrote in to tell us that TEFL had quite literally saved his life and given him a purpose which he had been missing before. I won’t paraphrase him as he says it so much better than I do, but that was pretty memorable.

What are some of the biggest barriers or challenges i-to-i faces in connecting with prospective participants? How do you work to overcome these?

One of the biggest challenges for us is conveying that you don’t need a load of experience or a degree in order to pursue your dreams of teaching overseas. There is a lot of confusion in the TEFL world.

A lot of the content that we produce is around awareness of “how to actually do it”. We don’t want TEFL to be a mystery, it’s something anyone with a sense of adventure and an open mind can do! All you have to do is be willing to put the work in to learn how to be a great TEFL teacher and we’ll provide you with the rest.

Whether it takes you one month, six months, or two years to get out there, when you train with i-to-i, we’ll make it happen!

Chinese women taking pictures of a blonde tourists in Beijing

The “We’ve never seen a blonde person before” photo in Beijing, China

What has been your greatest achievement since joining the i-to-i TEFL team

I think my favorite thing that we’ve done during my time managing the team is to build a website hub where i-to-i teachers can upload their videos and pictures and blog about their time teaching English abroad. It’s something we’ve got really great feedback for and is a great source of inspiration for many potential TEFL participants.

What is the most exciting part of your job?

That you’re encouraging people to pursue their dreams. Sometimes, people are really confident about going on their TEFL adventure and that’s brilliant, but I personally think it’s even more exciting when someone steps outside of their comfort zone with TEFL. Seeing them achieve something they never thought they could is brilliant; that’s what makes the job worthwhile.