Welcome to my JET Programme application series! Here you’ll find some tips and advice on how to go about applying for the JET Program. Here’s Part 3 of the application process!
Check out Part 2 here.
Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert on the JET Program or how its application process is done. All the advice and situations discussed in this series will be primarily based off my own experiences, as well as those of my friends and colleagues that are or were a part of the program.
Next up, you’ll have to detail your most recent work and/or relevant experience. Again, if you’ve got a CV/resume on hand, now is the time to dust it off and put it to use.
You do not include any volunteer work in this first section. However, formal internships may be included here.
You’ll want to sell yourself in this section here as much as you can.
I would say that this is the 3rd most important part of the application, after the SOP and references, respectively.
Your SOP is where you will show the selection committees who you are outside of work and school–who you are as a person. But the experience section, they want to see how you conduct yourself in a professional setting.
If you are still in Uni, you might not have a lot of experience under your belt. Or, you might have a ton.
I worked non-stop all throughout my Uni days, along with my post-grad days, and had my fair share of pickings. It all depends on the person.
Be aware of the space constraints on the application. It is recommended for most CVs/resumes that you only have one line of text for each bullet point of information. Even when copying over some of these points, I quickly ran out of space on the application. The text boxes for these sections are small. They want to see that you can market yourself concisely. It all comes back to having to know your strengths and how to use them to your advantage here.
You’ll only be able to list up to three of your most recent/relevant work experiences, so use them wisely. Also, please do use all three if possible!
I listed my current job, my government & diplomatic work, and my most relevant teaching experience in Japan.
While my current job has absolutely nothing to do with Japan, I focused on my managerial experience and how I lead my teams. I discussed numbers–it is always a good idea on any CV to list out your achievements in the most concise method possible. Numbers and stats are also the go-to. I also focused on how I interacted with high-profile stakeholders and board members. As a JET, you might find yourself interacting directly with your Principal, your Mayor, your Board of Education, or members of the Japanese government. It is good to show if you have experience dealing with those of higher rank than you for situations such as these.
I then focused on my diplomatic/government employment, in which I focused heavily on all the US-Japan initiatives I worked on. I had collaborated with JET during this time, so I made sure to mention that. I also focused on other Japanese government collabs and selection committees I worked on as part of this job.
Having sat on the selection committee of a similar government-sponsored program, I figured that for the most part the general selection process is the same for JET. Of course, this could be entirely wrong. But criteria that one would look at while grading our applications shouldn’t vary too much. At least, that’s what I was banking on. Maybe I was right, maybe I was completely off the mark. But, I’m in.
Lastly, I focused on some ALT work I did for a top private junior and senior high school in Japan. The school is a Super Global, Super Science, and Super English school. These are more recent initiatives that the Japanese government have focused on improving the educating within Japan and to boost its international standing. They are a big focus MEXT’s educational goals over the next few years. Some JETs get placed at these schools if they are ALTs or have visits to them as CIRs. As such, I figured it would be beneficial for me to focus on this school over others that I worked at this stage of my application.
After the main employment section, you’ll need to include information on three practicum teaching experiences you have. If you don’t have any classroom experience, you won’t put anything here. Think carefully about what you may put here and what may be considered in-class experience. You don’t necessarily have to focus on teaching English here. These next few sections are just to see if you have any experience teaching overall.
I listed more teaching experiences I had in Japan here and made sure to focus once again on my stats. Did you get students to go abroad or enrol in a language course? Put it down. Did you improve the turnover rate of new students? Write that stuff down. Did you boost student numbers during your tenure? Hell yeah, write it down. Write anything and everything you can to show that you know your skills, know your limits, and know how to achieve the goals that’s JET sets. JET is focused on teaching and exchange. You want to focus on showcasing your skills in relation to the JET program.
In retrospect I made a mistake in this section and accidentally put down the same school/experience that I did in the main employment section. I should have put down another school that I worked at instead but didn’t catch it in time before I submitted my application. Oh well. This is why you double, and triple check your applications people.
Next up, you’ll include any other teaching experiences. This may include volunteer experience. I focused on my volunteer teaching experiences with an organisation in Japan and with another international organisation.
Lastly, you’ll list any formal teacher training or courses you’ve taken. If you’re an Education major or have taken any TESL/TFL courses, now is the time to put them down. You’ll also list any teaching certificates you have, both for your home country and any TEFL/TESL ones.
Please keep in mind that this is all based off your information at the time of application submission. If you plan on taking a TEFL/TESL course but have not started, do not list it here. You do not want to false statements accidentally, for if at any point during the application or departure process it comes out that some information was falsified, you could be terminated from the program. They will grill you on your application during your interviews. They will triple check every detail during your visa process. Just, don’t do it. You want to sell yourself but not hurt yourself in the process.
Career & JET
You’ll have to write a very brief statement about your career aspirations and how they relate to JET. You’ll have more time to expand on this in your SOP, so don’t freak out if you can’t fit it all here. However, think of this as the logline or synopsis of your SOP–of you. If you can’t catch their attention with these few sentences, why should they continue reading? They’ve got thousands upon thousands of applications to read in only a few months; they don’t have time to waste on someone who doesn’t know what they want and how to get it.
Of course, no one has their life entirely figured out. If you say you do, I call BS (but props to you and teach me your skills). Most JET applicants are fresh out of Uni. Like hell do you know have your life figured out at 20.
I have an existential crisis when I can’t find my other sock in the morning. I slept for over 22 hours once and then went back to sleep after getting food. I got on the wrong plane once and ended up in the wrong country with not enough money to get to the right place. My life is nowhere near put together. But I do have goals and a plan on how to get there. I know what I want to do for the most part. I know where I want to end up. I also know how JET fits into those goals.
Even if you are not entirely sure on where you want to end up in the future, try to picture yourself 3, 5, and 10 years from now. The JET program is a yearly contract, with nearly guaranteed renewals up to 3 years, and an additional 2 if you are exceptional. You’ll want to be able to express where you see yourself in these milestones for this exact reason. Where do you see yourself during or after JET, both in the short-term and long-term? Also, remember, this is a two-way street. They want to see how JET can help you but also how you can help JET/Japan.
I wrote 4, albeit long, sentences. I started off with a brief statement of my aspirations, the ethos I live by. I then discussed how I wish to be involved in US-Japan relations during and after JET. I mentioned my background in IR and where I hope to end up. I closed it with what JET will do for me, and what I will do for JET.
Check out Part 4 of the JET application process here.