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Tutoring math and physics.

  1. Jul 8, 2013 #1
    Any advice or general experience on how to go about this type of work? I've just graduated almost penniless and without any job/intern/etc. or grad program lined up after months of applying, I'm forced to do whatever I can find right now. I did try advertising myself last summer as I genuinely wanted to try it back then, but didn't start receiving calls until late August/early September, time by which I had moved back to my university's province. I've tutored some under (and upper-)classmates informally before and have been told I was pretty decent at it, when I didn't go off on tangents.

    I spent the last few days advertising myself online (just googled "private tutor" + my city and put my ad up on the first 5 pages that allowed for it) and on paper ads at local schools, office supply shops and distance university regional office. In the latter case, I happened to find another tutor's ad rudely stapled onto mine less than 4 hours after having put it up, looks like I have some fierce competition. :/

    Any other avenues where I could advertise myself and get more exposure? Local newspaper comes to mind.

    Since every tutor ad I've seen asks for 15-17€/hour for high schoolers and university students (respectively), I've decided to undersell myself for 10-13€/hour. Is underselling a good idea in this circumstance? I am really jobless and don't have much hope of getting a real job in my area (34%+ unemployment) for a while. Or ever, I'm basically just hoping to save up enough to emigrate to the US (I am work-eligible) within the next few months.
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  3. Jul 9, 2013 #2
    If you want to move beyond technician-level jobs in science, you need to embark on a PhD program.

    Otherwise, I think that you'll find plenty of jobs in IT where your technical skills could prove useful, provided you teach yourself what those jobs require. For example, some who have bachelor's degrees in physics go on to work as software developers. They say there's a strong demand for 'em, so look into that.
  4. Jul 9, 2013 #3
    Uh, are you replying to the same topic? In case you aren't, I'm very well aware of that, but I was unsuccessful in getting into a phd or research program this year and haven't had any luck applying for a few dozen internships and technician jobs I was qualified for (a few I found over the past months at stsci, smithsonian, national labs, etc and a few dozen private firms and labs that didn't explicitly require specific engineering skills.

    Practically everything I found on USAjobs, AAS, and APS at the undergrad level really.

    The only potential source of income for me right now is private tutoring... I live in the area with highest unemployment in my country that basically lives off tourism. No industry.
  5. Jul 9, 2013 #4


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    I've made good money on the side and on campus by just being involved in a campus community and word of mouth. Most of my business comes from a professor recommendation. Ex: "You can go down to this place, OR you can give this girl a call."

    It's a bit twisted that for some time, I worked on the side and in the tutor lab. I charged 15/hr for the first hour, and 12/hr after that. I'd work at any time I could. I only had one condition, that they meet me at the library. People will have you travel all over and for me, it wasn't worth it. Besides, the library removed them from all distractions (kids, family, dogs, food, etc) and was considerably less awkward. For the few HS students I tutored, I had the ability to work 1 on 1 at the library, but one I did tutor at his home.

    Once you get a few people to start tossing your name around, it gets much easier. I'd reach out to the local community college and HS's in the area. They have the greatest need since they churn through many algebra--> calc I students.

  6. Jul 9, 2013 #5


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    Lavabug, I recall from your earlier posts that you are from Spain (correct me if I'm mistaken). When you applied for various job positions, did you only apply to those within the US, Spain, and other EU countries?

    The reason I'm asking is that, as a Spaniard, there should be opportunities for those with a technical background in various Latin Americans, such as Brazil (which is Portuguese-speaking, but Portuguese should be easy for a Spanish-speaker to pick up, especially if you are from the region of Galicia), Chile, Uruguay, or Mexico. I have read reports elsewhere that people from Spain, especially young people, have been emigrating in droves recently to those countries, ostensibly because of opportunities there. Have you considered it?

    As far as private tutoring is concerned, I suppose underselling your services could be an option for you, but I would suggest you only do this as an absolute last resort . The problem (which I'm sure you are aware of) is that there is nothing to prevent someone who is more desperate than you to do further undersell himself/herself. And at a certain point, coming across as too desperate will work against you.
  7. Jul 9, 2013 #6
    One of the best ways I have seen private tutors advertise and get students is by being employed as a tutor for a local college. They do the drop in tutoring for minimum wage at the local college and build relationships with students that way. Then some of the students hire them for above minimum wage private tutoring sessions.
  8. Jul 9, 2013 #7


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    Only undersell until you've established a client base. It becomes much easier to command a price once you have credibility.

  9. Jul 9, 2013 #8
    Yes, that is correct. I have been applying to jobs, internships and summer research positions in UK, Spanish, and American institutions. As far as straight jobs go, mostly US firms as I'm willing to jump ship the moment I get called for an interview.

    I am not a citizen of any Latin American country, therefore I cannot legally be employed there. I have seen what you mention in the news a lot, but the people who manage to obtain working permits/contracts are generally those who are highly skilled in professions that are in high demand (medical professionals, architects, pharma). Also a big portion of those who make it there do it through temp internship contracts.

    I am a US perm resident, so I could technically be employed as whatever comes up, except certain places like defense contractors, Army technician positions and a few sensitive national lab positions. I should really get around to upgrading to a citizenship in a few years, I was hoping to do so after a few years into a US grad program but I didn't get in anywhere (even after being waitlisted at my top choice, argh).

    Thanks for the advice Hayley. I'll be putting ads up in another town in my area where a sibling of mine has a locale (she's a self-employed lawyer) and she actually has a room she doesn't use. I would raise my price accordingly since transportation on my island ain't exactly cheap.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2013
  10. Jul 9, 2013 #9


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    It's never a problem Lava. I wish you the best of luck. It sounds like you're in a tricky situation. Networking is the toughest part, but it's incredibly underrated. You never know what you can find within a good network of people.

  11. Jul 9, 2013 #10
    This is more of an American thing. There used to be positions like this offered at some universities in my country (not mine) but they were for course credit (generally unpaid) and were actually fairly competitive to get.

    Unfortunately, though I do have a reputation of being a decent tutor at my university, I no longer live on the same island as my undergrad education and scholarship have reached their end. Will try putting up ads at the local uni here (no physics/math dept, just engineering and comp sci) but I'm virtually unknown here.

    If anyone's scratching their head, I live in Gran Canaria and my university is in Tenerife (University of La Laguna). Great weather, terrible job prospects. :)
  12. Jul 9, 2013 #11
    I've been tutoring for over a year now, I can't say how it will be for you, but for me, most of my students end up being middle school and high school aged students. There have been some university students, but they are much less because it is the parents that pay for their secondary school children to be tutored. I charge $20/hr and have stayed at that rate as long as I have been tutoring, and it has worked well.

    I advertise on craigslist
  13. Jul 10, 2013 #12


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    You mentioned that you have a sister living in another town which I'm assuming is also in the Canary Islands (Gran Canaria). Do you have any relatives living in mainland Spain or Melilla, Ceuta or the Balearic Islands? If so, perhaps they can set up a temporary place to live so that you can set up ads for private tutoring in those locales as well.

    After all, my assumption was that the economy of the Canary Islands relies heavily on tourism and fishing and not much else.
  14. Jul 10, 2013 #13
    Nope, no relatives elsewhere in the country. It's another town on the island but less densely populated than where I live (the province's capital, 400k inhabitants).

    The islands' main sources of income are tourism and a little agriculture. Almost everything is imported.

    No one in their right minds would eat anything fished here, with recent oil drilling prospectors punching holes in the ocean floor and especially after spending some time at a local wastewater processing plant lab, where I found out what the "clean water" that gets dumped out into the ocean is like. :P And before you ask, no I cannot get a job there, I was told by the boss (a family friend) it was practically impossible for me to get hired as I'm not a chem engineer, despite being well prepared to do most of the work there (I did a 2 month internship years ago and impressed them), all I have is a post secondary tech degree in chemistry (which got me into the internship) and as of tomorrow, a physics bachelors. Same dilemma kinkmode described in another thread, it doesn't matter that I have the skills (trivial for a 1st year chemistry student) or that I raised their QC standards during my short stay (they're ISO accredited and get periodic external assessments), I cannot be hired because my degree doesn't have the word engineering on it.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2013
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