I have many years of experience interviewing with schools online via Skype, but this is the first year that I’m giving the ISS iFair a go. I attended the iFair on November 18th and I wanted to share my experience here in case there were others interested in giving an iFair a try in the future.
In the weeks leading up to the fair, there were only about 10 schools listed on the iFair page that I kinda wanted to talk to (I had already interviewed with a few of the others in the past). I researched the schools, the positions they were offering, and the benefits listed online. Then I ranked them in the order that I was hoping to talk to them. The problem is that three of those 10 canceled right before the fair and one of them didn’t show up.
So that brought the countdown to seven for me. Four of those didn’t have elementary positions listed. You could say that I wasn’t very excited for the fair and it wouldn’t be a lie. But I was definitely curious so I knew I had to at least check it out!
How the iFair Works:
1) Make sure your profile information is up to date on the platform for the iFair.
2) Click on the link in your email to bring you to the chat platform on the morning of the chat.
3) Enter the “booth” of the school you are most interested in.
4) Click the green chat button indicating that you want to talk to that school so you can get in line to chat.
5) Wait for a school to connect with you.
6) Chat for 10 minutes.
The iFair took place from 4-10AM (my time) on a Saturday morning and I had been out late the night before so I had no intention of getting up early! So… I decided to go ahead and check it out it with only 30 minutes to spare! Haha.
With the limited time frame, I was at a disadvantage because when I joined the waitlist to chat with schools I could see that in all of the online “booths” I usually had at least 8 people ahead of me. I only ended up talking to one of the 10 original schools on my list, plus another school that was in a country I was interested in.
- Have your “elevator speech” typed up ahead of time because these are written “chats”.
- Do your research ahead of time about the schools you are interested in. Find out what positions they have available, what benefits they are offering, and a bit about the school itself.
- Type up some questions for the schools to answer ahead of time (to copy and paste) about the things that are most important to you. At this event, I asked about tech available in the classroom, if TAs are available in my grade, how many classes were at each grade level, and if there were people at their school who shared a similar family situation to me. You really only have time for maybe 5 questions (in my experience).
- If you were really interested in a school I would show up as soon as the event opened so you can be at the beginning of the line to chat.
- If you were really interested in one of the schools at the iFair, make sure you have previously sent the school your CV/resume because one school I spontaneously chatted with spent the first HALF of the (10 minute) chat reading over my resume!
What I Learned:
November is perhaps too early for the iFair to actually get a job offer unless you are in a high-demand area like secondary math or physics because many schools don’t have elementary jobs listed at this point. The iFair is very efficient and can be a great low-stress way of learning more about a school or country that you are interested in. I haven’t heard of anyone being offered a position at the iFair, but it seems like a good place to start a conversation that might lead to a position later.