We welcome another [free]lancer to the site! Jemma Zoe Smith is the founder of the Education Hotel. She graduated from Oxford University in 2013, where she got her BSc and Masters degree in Biochemistry. She then returned to Oxford University to gain her PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) in science teaching and to improve her pedagogical knowledge in 2017.
Tell us a little about yourself as a freelancer.
Prior to my PGCE I worked as the Manager of a residential Study centre, working with international students aged 16+ who were looking to enter UK education. I have been a tutor for 6 years - I teach online and have tutored residentially in 4 different continents.
As well as tutoring students, I have also seen the benefit that tutoring brings first hand. I was first exposed to tuition during secondary school when I was seeking improve my essay writing. My tutor become a mentor and, on top of enabling me to achieve top GCSE's, he encouraged me to consider applying to Oxford University.
I believe that teaching is about making a positive relationship with a student, gaining their trust, and demonstrating that learning is both possible and exciting. I believe a tutor should be a facilitator, allowing students to discover their interests and talents. I like to guide and enthuse, as opposed to enforcing one way of learning.
My career highlights so far:
What type of freelancer do you consider yourself?
I have worked as a private tutor for 6 years now, working mainly for education agencies. However, this year I am launching my own business called the Education Hotel, tutoring online and in person.
What got you interested in freelancing?
When I left university I went to work in London as a strategy consultant, alongside this I was tutoring at the weekends. About a year after starting in London, I realized that I was enjoying tuition more than my full time job, so I decided it was worth pursuing. Following this decision I worked in a summer school before I returned to my alma mater Oxford University, to do my PGCE degree in secondary teaching.
What were some of your favorite resources when you were just starting out?
The best decision for me as a freelancer was joining education based facebook and LinkedIn groups. They're a great space to network and meet new clients, as well as a supportive environment for asking questions and sharing knowledge.
Do you freelance full time? If not, is that your goal?
As of June 2018 I have been a full time freelancer. It took me around 6 years of honing my craft to feel confident enough to step out on my own. During those years I gained as much educational experience as possible, for example: managing a residential school, working in Dubai as a tutor for 3 months and going back to university to qualifying as a secondary school teacher.
What are some of your life goals you'd like to share? (They don't have to be related to work.)
I would like to see my business continue to grow, allowing me the opportunity to travel the world. I recently went to Kenya and had an amazing experience tutoring in an orphanage for girls.
What is your most common job?
Most of my work involves teaching students aged 8-18 online via Skype or Zoom. However, I also can be found doing a myriad of other educational roles. Recently I have been designing curriculum for summer schools, helping draft university applications and advising parents on secondary school selection.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Because I tutor internationally in an online environment I have plenty of clients in different time zones who want tuition after school, allowing me to fill my days with lessons. Typically, if I am working from home I will tutor 11-3 then take a break before tutoring again from 5pm. My work sometimes means late nights on Skype to cater for clients on the other side of the world. Thankfully my partner also works late nights as a musician, so he is very understanding.
Where are you hoping to be in 5 years?
As well as seeing my business continue to grow, I's love to own my own home and be able to devote more of my time to hobbies. Currently my business takes up all my free time, but for now I'm enjoying learning how to run my own company.
Do you travel a lot when you work or do you have a home base?
In 2018 I worked in 6 places: Czech Republic, San Francisco, Utah, Hawaii, Kenya, and Turkey. However, I only have a select few clients who I travel to work with. Mostly I work online.
What is the most common question you get asked about freelancing?
The most common question I get asked is "How do I do what you do?". Tutoring is an unregulated industry and in theory someone without any qualifications can become a private tutor. However, in order to be successful you have to put a lot time into building your network and gaining experience. I really see tuition as a strong career path and have worked hard to maintain my professional development.
Follow along with Jemma's freelancing journey on Instagram!
A [free]lancer is someone who has chosen to work for themselves for the independence and freedom that comes with it.
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