GoAbroad Interview

Patrick Cazaly - Senior Placement Consultant & Account Manager

Patrick Cazaly - Senior Placement Consultant & Account Manager

Patrick originally from Australia, but he has been living in Shanghai, China for around two and half years. His job at Teaching Nomad allows him to spend his days helping great teachers connect with great schools. When he is not placing teachers you’ll find him practicing Chinese or guitar, eating in one of Shanghai’s many delicious restaurants, or enjoying Shanghai’s art scene. 

Park in Shanghai, China

One Shanghai’s many beautiful parks

How did you get connected to Teaching Nomad?

I was teaching children’s ESL in Songjiang (a suburb in the South-West of Shanghai) at a small independent language school. I had just finished my contract and was looking for a position with a Monday to Friday schedule that matched my partner’s.

Teaching Nomad was the perfect fit; I had heard a lot of horror stories about school’s mistreating teachers, and Teaching Nomad’s aim to improve the experiences of people in the teach abroad industry seemed the perfect solution to the problem. Moreover I was well suited to the role, I could use my own experience as a teacher to help keep people informed about what to expect, help them avoid pitfalls with visas and the different types of schools, and help them prepare for life in China! 

What international experiences have you had that help you in your role with Teaching Nomad?

Prior to teaching in China I travelled through Southeast Asia for over a year; along the way I met quite a few ESL teachers (which was actually what got me to consider teaching ESL in the first place). This gave me some good insight into the differences in lifestyle, career opportunities, and compensation between teaching positions in Southeast Asia and China. 

What are some of the benefits of a teacher going through Teaching Nomad as opposed to finding a teaching job in China on their own?

Apart from the assistance we provide with the details of securing the position (keeping you up to date with your applications, career advice on which school will be the best fit for you, etc.) and the comfort of applying through a native English speaking recruiter who has been in your position before, the main benefit is our vetting of schools.

Before we start recruiting for a particular school we take the time to visit the school’s campus, speak with the administration, and chat with current teaching staff members. That way we can be sure that we’re setting our teachers up with a reputable school that’s offering a competitive compensation package, a legal working visa, and a good work environment.

It’s also completely free, there’s no downside, so why wouldn’t you go through Teaching Nomad!

Wicker chairs on a street in China

Need a chair? This guy has got you covered.

What is an average day like as a senior placement consultant for Teaching Nomad?

On an average day I have between three and six Skype interviews with potential teachers, lasting around 20 minutes each. In between these I’m emailing back and forth between candidate teachers and schools, mostly answering questions, giving advice, and facilitating the flow of information. Occasionally I’m ringing our “Placement Gong,” which is our way of celebrating when one of our teachers has taken a position in one of our schools.

What are some characteristics you look for in potential teachers?

As far as characteristics are concerned, we’re typically looking for energetic, enthusiastic people that like interacting with other people and who are excited about the prospect of teaching overseas. 

Couple singing karaoke in China

A couple of teachers rocking birthday karaoke!

What is the most challenging part of placing teachers in the right school?

The most challenging part of placing teachers in the right school is probably communication. We’re very prompt with our communication and try to respond to emails same day, but people are not always so quick to get back to us, which is understandable; people have lives and responsibilities and getting back to your personal placement consultant isn’t always high on some people’s lists. Still it can be frustrating when a candidate has a great offer on the table, and you can’t get ahold of them. 

How does your educational background help you in connecting with schools and organizations you place teachers with? In connecting with participants?

I think having taught before lends me some credibility when I talk to candidates and schools. I have taught before, I can relate to the experiences you’ve had or will have as a teacher. I can empathize better than someone who has never taught before, and I can give advice that has a basis in real world experience.

How do you ensure that each participant is placed in the best possible position?

When we Skype with a candidate we take the time to talk not only about their experience and the sort of position they’re after, but also about why a candidate is interested in teaching abroad, their teaching career, and their family situation. This extra background knowledge helps us match candidates with the right school. Are you teaching abroad to further your teaching career or are you coming to explore a new country and culture? The match is extremely important; a professionally qualified teacher will probably hate teaching at a language school, while a new teacher would probably feel completely overwhelmed and out of their depth in an international school.

Inside a contemporary art museum in Shanghai, China

One of Shanghai’s several fantastic contemporary art museums

What is the most important piece of advice you share with participants before departure?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Since we’re based in Shanghai everyone in the Teaching Nomad office has gone through the process of moving abroad already. In spite of your excitement and enthusiasm, it can be confusing, frustrating, and tedious (particularly the visa process). Part of the service we provide is being the person to answer your questions when you don’t know who to ask. 

What is your favorite part about working for Teaching Nomad?

I really enjoy meeting my teachers face to face! Teaching Nomad typically throws a couple of parties per year where we invite all our teachers to come and have a drink with us. It’s immensely gratifying to meet someone you’ve brought over to China who is really happy with their job. You feel that you’ve had a positive impact on their lives, and generally speaking a happy teacher is a good teacher. It’s great to think about the cumulative effect that all these happy teachers are having on their students’ lives too.

What is your most memorable moment from your time with Teaching Nomad?

Probably our Annual Teaching Nomad Teacher Appreciation Party this year. While I was there for last year’s party (which was not long after I joined Teaching Nomad), it was much different this year when many of the attending teachers were people I had helped bring to China. It was great to meet people in person (everyone looks a lot different over Skype!) and find out how they’re enjoying their new life in China! (I was also secretly very pleased when one of my teachers won the Grand Prize in our raffle).