Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sam of all trades

Caroline works at a science museum here, as you have probably read about. Many people have been asking me what the heck I am doing here, and that's a good question with a sort of complicated answer. Instead of having one job, I have a whole lot of different jobs, and they don't always fit well together. Here's the rundown of what I'm doing:

Short version: I'm volunteering at a bike shop 2 days/week, working remotely with a tutoring startup based in Chicago, and doing private math/science tutoring classes weekday evenings from 3:30 - 8:30 or so.

And now, the long version, if you want to hear about it...

La Bicicleta Verde
This the bike tour company where I am volunteering. That's right, I don't get paid here, but I do love working there and the people are really great, so I'm happy to do it. I am working as a bike mechanic with three Chilean university students (senior year) who are all majoring in eco-tourism. After they graduate, they will either get hired by or start their own tour companies of some sort. One wants to do jeep tours, one wants to do photography guided tours, and one wants to open a skatepark at the ski resorts here. Cool stuff!

The great part is that they are all VERY interested in improving their English, so while we work on bikes together, they help me with my Spanish and I help them with their English. It's a great situation for me, because it means that they have the patience to really slow down and teach me, because they want the same from me. And all the while, we are tuning up bikes - which I also love. Before getting here, I had taught myself how to do many bike repair jobs, but now I'm getting tons of practice which means I'm getting faster and learning how to handle more unusual situations. Also, there's an older guy who is very experienced with bikes and he helps me or teaches me sometimes, so I learn a lot there too.

I had originally thought that I would be trying to learn the tours and become a paid guide, but now that I have plenty of hours tutoring, I'm happy to stick with volunteering as a bike mechanic instead of pushing to become a guide. (The nice thing about volunteering is that I can leave early or decide not to come in on a given day).

All in all, it's a fun group of people and a fun job. The only catch is that I don't get paid, but that's ok because I have these other jobs...

MyGuru Tutoring
Over the past summer, in Boston, I wanted to do a little tutoring with my free time, so I signed up for a tutor matching service called MyGuru. The founder happened to be a guy who had formerly worked in consulting, and so based on my experience he called me up and asked if I wanted to do some work for the company in addition to tutoring work. That has turned out to be a great partnership, from my point of view.

MyGuru mostly matches tutors for in-person tutoring in the Chicago area right now, but we are aiming to expand into online tutoring through the web. This is my project with the company - I am researching useful online meeting tools and environments for tutoring, doing some "beta testing" tutoring to see what works and what doesn't, and now I'm also doing marketing for the online business.

There are a lot of reasons I like this job. It's a good combination of things that I really know how to do (tutoring, figuring out the tech of how to tutor over the web) along with some things that I want to learn how to do (web marketing). Also, because the work is all remote, I can do it on my own schedule and that flexibility is really helpful. If you want to see an example of what I've done there, you can check out this video that I made for the website.

I hope to expand my work with MyGuru and pick up more hours there, since I like the work and it's so flexible.

Math and Science Tutoring
I've just recently started seeking out tutoring for local students here in Santiago. There are a lot of international schools where the students speak English, so there are plenty of people interested in an english-speaking math/science tutor.

I first got the connection because I had been talking to one of the guys who runs the bike shop about my attempts to find tutoring, and he offered to email a friend who was one of the parents on the welcoming committee at a private international school. It turned out that not only was this woman interested in tutoring for her own son, but she also sent out my tutoring info to an email list of families at the school.

Well, I am very grateful for her email, because since then I have had more tutoring requests than I could possibly make time for! The tricky thing is that I can only tutor kids after about 3:30pm, because that is when they get home from high school. This means that I'm now spending my days working at La Bicicleta Verde or doing work for MyGuru remotely, and then around 3pm I head out to my various tutoring jobs (they are all over the city, and I tutor in-home, so it also means that I'm getting to see homes and neighborhoods all around the city).

English Teaching
You might be thinking "wait, Sam, I thought you were going to be teaching English!" Well, that was my original plan, but as of this week I actually quit from the job. First of all, the company that I was working for had only given me one class so far. Second, the pay is faaaar less than private tutoring, and the class was during the peak evening hours that I wanted to be tutoring. And finally, it was also a bit stressful due to the unpredictability. They could call me any day and say "Hey Sam, we have a class that starts at 7:30am and is an hour away from your house. Have fun!" I like the private tutoring better because I get to decide when I work and when I don't.

So, that is what I am up to. Since the tutoring kicked in, I have definitely been VERY busy, but I like that much more than when I had too much free time. Of course, as the weather gets good and we continue to make more friends and travel plans, I might wish to go back to lots of free time.

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