My JET Experience

This blog will mainly be about my experience with Interac(if everything goes well at least) but I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about my experience applying to JET as well. When you are looking at teaching English in Japan JET is pretty much your first stop. They are well known, funded by the government and they are pretty much the sweetest deal you could get when you make comparisons. These things tend to make JET the first choice and a few years ago when I was finishing my first degree it was certainly mine.

I was in my final year of my degree when I embarked upon applying for JET. I became aware of the program when they gave a presentation to my university’s anime club. You would think that wouldn’t be a big thing but that little presentation ended up shaping the next few years of my life. I had no idea what I wanted to do after university and the presentation allowed me to ask myself a very simple but important question. Would I like teaching? After thinking about it I decided I would and I made JET my goal for when I finished my degree.

The application process itself is a lengthy one. You start off by having to submit a lengthy online application as well as mailing off quite a bit of it to your country’s main JET office, at least that was the way it was when I applied. I remember the day I mailed off my application actually because it was November and it was freezing cold as I walked home from the Shopper’s where I’d mailed it off. Anyways, once it’s mailed off you are now into what makes up most of JET’s application process. Waiting. Lot’s and lots of waiting. Thankfully I was still busy with all of my courses at the time and so it was not as bad as it could have been. Eventually January will roll around and the obsessive email checking will begin. Having technology on us all the time is horrible when it comes to things like this because man do you actually check like all the time. At some point though you will receive that email and in my case it was a happy one, I’d made it to the interview stage. I received my email right before a class and I’m pretty sure I just sat there with a silly grin the whole damn time.

Once you have made it to the interview stage you have just under a month to prepare. In my case this meant studying possible questions like crazy and investing in a suit to wear for the interview. A fairly close friend of mine, who was a fellow teacher’s assistant for Japanese classes, had also managed to score an interview along with a friend of hers and so the weekend before our interviews we got together for a few hours to essentially grill ourselves on the interview questions. The one thing I never really put much time or thought into preparing for was the demo lesson part of the interview and it was that which I’m sure brought about my downfall in the end. That day of preparation was a really great experience though and if you are applying for JET then I would advise to find other people to get together and practice with because it really will help in the end. Practice with as many fellow JET hopefuls as you can before those interviews but once you or your friends have had your interview don’t talk about them until you are all done. Why? Well this is part of what happened to me. My friend had her interview the day before me. She had the same panel of people as I did(there were two or three different panels I believe) and she told us all about it. All of the questions, what she did for her demo lesson, all of it. When it came time for my interview this ended up screwing me over a little bit as all I could think of when it came to the demo lesson was what she had said and so I really did a terrible job. I remember being on the train home and thinking of all of these other, better things I could have done but hindsight is 20/20, yeah?

After the interview all there is is more, you guessed it, waiting. Sometime around early to mid April you will get your answer. There are three possibilities at this point: No, Shortlisted, and Alternate. I was put on the alternate list, as was my friend. If you are shortlisted then you are in, you are off to Japan come August. If you are on the wait list then you are only going if someone turns down JET. Some years a lot of alternates get upgraded to the shortlist, not my year. My friend was lucky enough to get upgraded fairly quickly but I never got that call.

That in a nutshell was my JET experience. I made it a lot farther than some do but I never quite got there. While JET is certainly something I would consider applying for again I am just not willing to wait so long for an answer. In comparison my experience with Interac so far has been nothing but speedy. If you managed to stick through this whole jumbled post than I commend you. I’m not all that good at organizing my thoughts sometimes but I’m trying.

Till Next Time!

Interac Phone Interview

Two posts in a day! Crazy right? You’ll never see this much activity from me. Or maybe you will and I’ll end up posting five things in a day and then nothing for months, that’s more my style. Anyways, on to the post!

I wanted to write this and add my voice to all of the others out there that people look to as a resource because I know I was just trolling through them this morning. I have always found lots of advice through reading blogs and it’s only right in my mind to share my experience too.

As I am sure you have seen before the Interac Application has three stages to it. You first submit an online application through their site. It’s fairly easy to get through, if a bit long. Everything is straightforward enough and the part to worry about the most is the little essay/cover letter you are asked to write(2500 characters including spaces). Just focus on why you want the job and why you would be good for the job. If you’ve ever applied to JET before, because most people applying to Interac have at some point, then it’s fairly similar to your SOP. That should really be the trickiest part. After you click submit you get a confirmation that it’s been sent and then you wait. Probably not for very long though unless you are applying at peak times, like say after you find out you didn’t get a JET interview. In my case I submitted my application on June 1st at like 9 or 10 at night and I received a call the next afternoon. This call was very simple and quick. They just want to confirm a few details from your application and they will probably ask a few questions along the lines of ‘Would you mind a rural placement?’ and ‘Would you be willing to drive?’. Be as honest as you can and unless you have a really serious reason why you can’t then you should say yes to the driving and rural questions as your chances will improve. If they like what they hear from you in this call, which they most likely will because they called you, then they will probably ask to schedule a time for a phone interview. Mine was scheduled for today at noon.

After you get off that first call they will send you a few documents to look over. One is basically just the FAQs that you can find on their website. Read it over carefully though as there is tons of info in there about the job you are applying to do that you should know. The other is a document about working as an ALT and gives details about the schedule and expectations of the job. Read it carefully because they do ask you about it in the phone interview.

The phone interview itself is pretty straightforward and really laid back. The first they they will do is ask if you have any questions so if you have anything that the FAQs or other documents have brought to mind then ask them, they don’t mind. Personally I asked about tattoos because well, I have one, and the wording in the documents from Interac is not encouraging on that front. The recruiter I was talking too was very understanding though and to sum it up the message is, you can have tattoos but you can’t show them at work or in the community you are living in. So I guess that means no shorts in the summer, ne? Not too likely with how hot Japan is supposed to be in the summers but I have no problems investing in things to keep it covered while I am there.

After my question we jumped right into the interview. The questions really are what you hear about from other people. Why Japan? Is rural okay? Is driving ok? Remember that ALT sheet they sent you? They will ask a few things about it like what you think the typical responsibilities would be in a day and what makes a good ALT. These are the ones I would make notes on over anything so you don’t sound like you are fumbling for an answer. They will ask you about your teaching experiences if you have any as well. They will also ask you about money and whether or not you will have the money they recommend. It was all really straightforward and the interview questions maybe lasted 10 minutes of my 20 minute call in the end. The only thing that surprised me was that I never got the school lunches question which I had heard about on other blogs and videos. Goes to show that every situation is different and all.

After the questions part was done I was given the offer right away of moving to the next stage of the process(Yes!). Now here’s where this might get a bit different. Normally they next stage is you attend a seminar with several other applicants where you have to do a grammar test, demo lesson, and in person interview. Now I live kinda far away from the nearest seminar locations(I’m talking like full day drive, $300 dollar min. flights far), so instead I will be having a Skype interview. This also means that I am on my own to create the demo lesson and I have to film and upload it to them before my interview can happen. I am a little disappointed to not get the chance to meet other applicants but I am also glad I don’t have to find my way to Toronto or Vancouver. It also cuts down the wait time I thought I’d have as the Toronto seminar is next weekend and there is no way I could have made it and the Vancouver one was all the way at the end of August. So less waiting but also less help I guess? I am just glad that things are moving forward!

Hello there World!

Not that I think the world is reading this or anything. Cause they probably won’t be. If I’m lucky this will be something that friends and family and perhaps a few weird people who enjoy reading people’s blogs(like say me) will discover. I’ll try to keep this pretty short and sweet. I first started to read blogs when I looked in to going to Japan to teach English. I wanted to hear from people who were actually there. I found that I enjoyed reading about their lives and adventures. Blogging was something I decided I wanted to do if I ever went abroad because not only would it be a way to connect with friends and family but maybe someone out there would find it fun to read.

That’s is what brings us to here and now. I’m not overseas yet, not even close really, and maybe this blog will never get much further than this but I want to give it a try. I am currently in the process of interviewing for Interac Japan to go and teach English next March. What’s that? That’s ages away you’re saying? Yeah it kind of is but I figured I would start writing now while everything is fresh in my mind. If anything now is the best time to start writing something like this because I’ve finally reached the end of the road-map you could say. As of June 9th I will have graduated, again, and finally I will no longer have school on the horizon. It’s terrifying. I honestly have no idea what I am doing really and it scares the crap out of me. I have no clue what I really want to be doing with my life. I am just intending to keep pushing forward and figuring it out as I go.

A little while ago my best friend posted her yearbook entry from grade 12, I asked her to show me what mine was because I never picked up the yearbook for that year. One of the questions we were asked, in those obligatory graduating comments, was what we saw ourselves doing in ten years. I smiled when I saw mine.

Out living my life! I can’t say what I will be doing but it will be great!

I haven’t changed much really. I still don’t know what I want to be doing but whatever it is I want to enjoy it. Life is here for us to enjoy after all.