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EPISODE SLICE #16: A Look Inside the Corporate World as an American in China

On today’s episode slice, my guest is Sean Gelt, who is the CEO of International English Solutions (IES), a placement & assistance firm for both Chinese and American citizens. We talk a lot about the work culture in China, among other things (see below), all of which I find very fascinating!

Here are some highlights from the interview:

  • What IES does and Sean’s business background in China
  • How hard it is to start a business in China and what it takes
  • How light and white skin makes you a more desirable person (not racial, strictly a status issue). NOTE: There are LOTS of other plusses to working in China. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have light skin. It was just an interesting observation about the culture, and I did not mean to insult or offend anyone. 
  • The cons of living in China (people peeing in public, smokers, pushiness of people)
  • How living in China has influenced him to become more compassionate
  • The huge divide between social classes
  • Why so many Chinese people know English and want to learn English
  • The process of getting a valid work permit to teach in china
  • How you can use IES’s services to find a legit teaching job in China
  • The importance of negotiating
  • Why having an assistant is important when working in the corporate world in china

… and so much more!

Info and Sites Mentioned in the Interview:

  • International English Solutions (IES) – Sean’s company
  • Tencent – The third largest Internet company in the world. QQ is an instant messaging program and is a product of Tencent.
  • Hampson English (no link available) – One of the top police-raided places when it comes to hiring teachers without valid work visas

Interested in IES?
If you are interested in working with IES, send your resume to

Sean looking sharp

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  • Rachel

    In regards to the TEFL, can someone earn that after they are in China, or should they complete the certification before he or she applies for a job in China as a teacher?

    • Alexa Hart

      Goodness, I didn’t realize people have been commenting on my site because my notification system was screwed up. So sorry, Rachel!!! Fixing that now. I’m all about engagement.

      I’d recommend getting TEFL certified before going to China because it increases the applicant’s credibility with the employer and gives the applicant more options for finding work. With that being said, there are also TEFL certification programs in China, so you could also get TEFL certified there. Another thing – A LOT of people teach English in China without the proper paperwork or TEFL certification and without being caught. In other countries like Korea and Japan, it helps a lot more to be certified.

      Happy to answer any other questions you have!

      • Rachel

        Thanks so much!

        • Alexa Hart