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Working and volunteering

Volunteering

Opportunities include everything from teaching to working on an organic farm.

Alternative Camp (www.ayder.org.tr) A volunteer-based organisation running camps for disabled people.

Culture Routes in Turkey (tinyurl.com/d6fld8l) Opportunities to help waymark and repair its hiking trails such as the Lycian Way. A project to renovate old buildings for use as trekking accommodation is coming up.

European Youth Portal (europa.eu/youth/evs_database) Database of European Union–accredited opportunities.

Gençlik Servisleri Merkezi (www.gsm.org.tr/en) GSM runs voluntary work camps for young people in Turkey.

Gençtur (genctur.com.tr) Organises voluntourism including farmstays, with offices in İstanbul and Berlin.

GoAbroad.com (www.volunteerabroad.com) A US-based company listing a range of opportunities in Turkey, mostly through international organisations.

Open Arms in Kayseri Grassroots charity working to improve the living conditions of Kayseri's large refugee population.

Ta Tu Ta (www.tatuta.org) Turkey's branch of WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) organises work on dozens of organic farms around the country, where you receive accommodation and board in exchange for labour.

Work

Outside professional fields such as academia and the corporate sector, bagging a job in Turkey is tough. Most people teach English or nanny.

Check whether potential employers will help you get a work permit. Many employers, notably language schools, are happy to employ foreigners on an informal basis, but unwilling to organise work permits due to the time and money involved in the bureaucratic process. This necessitates working illegally on a tourist visa/residence permit. The '90 days within 180 days' regulation stipulated by some tourist visas (for more on this, see www.mfa.gov.tr/visa-information-for-foreigners.en.mfa) rules out the option of cross-border 'visa runs' to pick up a new visa on re-entry to Turkey.

Locals also occasionally report illegal workers, and there have even been cases of English teachers being deported.

Job hunters may pick up leads on the following expat and advertising websites:

Nannying

One of the most lucrative non-specialist jobs open to foreigners is nannying for the wealthy urban elite, or looking after their teenage children and helping them develop their language skills.

There are opportunities for English, French and German speakers, and openings for young men as well as women, all mostly in İstanbul.

You must be prepared for long hours, demanding employers and spoilt children.

Accommodation is normally included, and the digs will likely be luxurious. However, living with the family means you are always on call, and you may be based in the suburbs.

Teaching English

You can earn a decent living, mostly in İstanbul and the other major cities, as an English teacher at a university or a school. Good jobs require a university degree and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate or similar.

As well as the job-hunting resources listed in the introduction to this section, log onto www.eslcafe.com, which has a Turkey forum, and www.tefl.com.

If you want to proactively contact potential employers, Wikipedia has lists of universities and private schools in Turkey.

Dershane

There are lots of jobs at dershane (private schools), which pay good wages and offer attractions such as accommodation (although it may be on or near the school campus in the suburbs) and work permits. Some even pay for your flight to Turkey and/or flights home.

Jobs are available at all levels, from kindergarten to high school. Teachers who can't speak Turkish often find very young children challenging; many are spoilt and misbehave around foreign teachers. The best preschools pair a foreign teacher with a Turkish colleague.

You will often be required to commit to an unpaid trial period, lasting a week or two.

Unless a teacher has dropped out before the end of their contract, these jobs are mostly advertised around May and June, when employers are recruiting in preparation for the beginning of the academic year in September. Teachers are contracted until the end of the academic year in June.

Language Schools

Teaching at a language school is not recommended. The majority are exploitative institutions untroubled by professional ethics; for example making false promises in job interviews. A few Turkish schools are 'blacklisted' at teflblacklist.blogspot.com.

At some you teach in a central classroom, but at business English schools you often have to schlep around the city between the clients' workplaces.

Schools often promise you a certain number of hours a week, but classes are then cancelled, normally at the last minute, making this a frustrating and difficult way to make a living in Turkey.

Private Tuition

The advantage of teaching privately is that you don't need a TEFL certificate or even a university degree. You can advertise your services on istanbul.craigslist.com.tr and www.sahibinden.com.

The disadvantage is that, unless you are willing to travel to clients' offices and homes (which is time-consuming, and potentially risky for women), they tend to cancel when they get busy and learning English suddenly becomes a low priority. As with business English schools, most teaching takes place on weekends and evenings, when the students have spare time.

Universities

University jobs command the best wages, with work permits and, often, flights thrown in. Universities also generally operate more professionally than many establishments in the above sectors.

The teacher's job is often to prepare freshman students for courses that will largely be taught in English.

As with dershane, jobs are advertised around May and June, and run roughly from September until June.

Tourism

Travellers sometimes work illegally for room and board in pensions, bars and other businesses in tourist areas. These jobs are generally badly paid and only last a few weeks, but they are a fun way to stay in a place and get to know the locals.

Given that you will be in direct competition with unskilled locals for such employment, and working in the public eye, there is a danger of being reported to authorities and deported.

Working Visas

  • Visit www.konsolosluk.gov.tr for information on obtaining a çalışma izni (work permit).
  • Your Turkish employer should help you get the visa.
  • If it's an employer such as a school or international company, they should be well versed in the process and can handle the majority of the paperwork.
  • The visa can be obtained in Turkey or from a Turkish embassy or consulate.
  • The government plans to introduce a 'turquoise card', which will be a points-based system based on the applicant's vocational qualifications, educational background and professional experience.

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