I came to JESIE in July 2014 after spending 8 months in the Northern Chinese city of Tianjin. Tianjin wasn't the most fantastic place to live, but after spending 8 months in China I knew I really wanted to spend more time here. Tianjin was just not my style and I wasn't the biggest fan of Northern China. I knew I wanted to be in the region of China close to Shanghai, if not within Shanghai itself. I was offered a few jobs in Shanghai, as well as a job working for JESIE in a Nanjing public school. I was really set on moving to Shanghai, but when I compared the benefits (salary, working hours, paid accomodation, vacation time) offered by JESIE there was no struggle to make the decision. I consulted with a friend who lived in Shanghai, and had been working all over China, and he assured me that Nanjing was a really nice city and the job offer by JESIE was quite good. When looking for a job in China you really must weigh all the benefits offered by an employer. Salary figures must be weighed against the existence of paid housing. Shanghai salaries are higher, but they rarely if ever include housing. Not to mention the expensive cost of living in Shanghai. A salary offer in Shanghai must be atleast 5,000 to 6,000 RMB a month more than a Nanjing salary to really consider it a better paying job.
Aside from the salary and benefit situation offered to me by JESIE I was also impressed with their employees. I had only spoken with them over the phone and through email, but it was obvious that JESIE was a serious organization with good management. They were very experienced and tended to my transfer from Tianjin with extreme professionalism. They also allowed me to move all my stuff in at the beginning of July although my contract wouldn't begin until September 1st. I was free to live there for free the whole summer if I wanted, but I opted to travel China for for the summer without needing to worry about a place to store my belongings. This really gave me a great first impression of JESIE and let me know that they understand an important part of who I am which is my passion for travel. Many times Chinese employers don't understand the way a foreign English teacher thinks and what will make us happy. JESIE understands this well and it is obvious in the ways that they treat their employees.
I think JESIE is a great place to work. Management is thoughtful and deals with issues quickly and effectively. If there are any issues with your school they will handle it without any problem. Also it is a big organization with many departments and a lot of experience. This provides teachers with vast amounts of knowledge within reach if a teacher needs help with anything. Also management cares about what teachers have to say. When we have meetings we are consulted directly about how to improve JESIE and make it even better. They value our opinions and experience and don't treat us as if they always know better than us. Also as I said before they understand the cultural differences between foreigners and Chinese very well. Most of JESIE's Chinese Staff have either lived or traveled abroad. This really improves the understanding that JESIE's Chinese staff have about foreingers and allows them to better handle foreigners.
Working for JESIE and living in Nanjing has been a wonderful experience for me. I have really grown as a person in these last two years. I have taught many different age groups and learned to become an even more competent and effective teacher. I don't feel too much stress and have received mostly praise for the work that I have done. I don't work an oppressive amount of hours and have never been asked to do anything without a fair amount of notice given beforehand. Also both of my apartments while working for JESIE were not only free, but very modern and nice.
Nanjing is a wonderful city and I have made lifelong connections and friendships here. I really feel that Nanjing is now my home and am grateful for the opportunity that JESIE has given me by hiring me to work for them. I have traveled all over China and can honestly say that Nanjing is my favorite city. There is a lot to do with a vast amount of historical places to visit. Nanjing also has a huge foreign population because of all the universities and a huge amount of foreign teachers. This is a big source of comfort for any foreigner who decides to move to China. Also it is close to Shanghai and many other scenic places in China. The cost of living is inexpensive and the people in Nanjing are better educated and more willing to engage with foreigers than in many other cities in China.
Before moving to Nanjing I lived in Tianjin, China for 8 months and Gimhae, South Korea for 17 months. JESIE is quite different from both of my other jobs. In South Korea I worked about 35 hours a week and had 10 days vacation per year. With JESIE I teach between 15-20 hours per week and have 3 months off a year (only one month of which is paid, but time is valuable to me). In South Korea I was forced to remain at the school from about 10 am to 7:30 pm each day with only about an 90 minutes of real break time a day. With JESIE I have no office hours and only work about 3 hours per day. I have the whole rest of the day to do as I please. This allows me to pursue other interests and actually live my life instead of spending my whole waking life being consumed by my job. Because I have so much vacation time I have had the opportunity to travel for months at a time each year and see many amazing places. In South Korea I only traveled for 2 weeks over the entire 17 months I was there. In Tianjin I did not work many hours each day, but the orranization I worked for was not as well organized as JESIE. Halfway through my stint in Tianjin my company lost its contract with the public school I was working for and I was forced to spend my last 4 months teaching kindergarten. It was all good fun, but I really enjoyed the public school job there and I never even got to say goodbye to my students. With JESIE, once I begin a job at a school I know it will be seen through until the end. JESIE is a well respected organization and I have no fear of my job disappearing in the middle of the year due to forces outside of my control.
Overall there is really no comparision between JESIE and my previous employers. Actually when I talk to other foreign teachers in Nanjing that don't work for JESIE I realize how much better my situation is. If I tell them about JESIE and explain my situation in detail, which I rarely do as I don't want to come off like I am bragging, they are always extremely jealous. I am a lucky man to have stumbled across the job advertisement for JESIE while I was sitting in my stuffy apartment in Tianjin on that chilly spring day in March 2014.