So You Wanna Be A JET: Placement

Hey JETsetters!

The JET Programme application process is a terribly long one. You apply in October, and if you started prepping beforehand even earlier, and then spend half a year waiting for news on acceptance. Once you get that acceptance letter, you’re stuck waiting once again for news on where you will be uprooting your life to for the next one to five years.

For me, the wait for my placement was one of the hardest ones. I couldn’t really start planning my packing until I knew where I would be located. Would I be in the city where shops are abundant, and I don’t have to worry about sizes or comfort food? Or would I be in the countryside on a remote island where I would only get grocery deliveries once a week or two by boat (true story for one of our JET speakers at Tokyo Orientation)?

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.

The JET Programme informs applicants and selected candidates that placement results typically won’t arrive until early July, but this varies every year, by consulate/embassy, and by the placement itself. Some countries still receive results via regular post over email, which adds to delayed responses. Some countries send out results later than others.

The U.S. tends to be one of the first locations for results to be sent out, but due to how many consulates there are in the U.S. they come out in waves. Some people must wait weeks after others to get their results.

Kobe JETs also fall into the category of later results, along with prefectural JETs.

CIR and ALT results are sent out at the same time essentially, so this doesn’t affect the timing.

If you are prefectural over municipal, you will hear first about your general placement—which prefecture you will be in. You will then have to wait even more to find out exactly which city or town you will be in.

Information you will find out with the initial email: If you are a prefectural or municipal JET, public or private school JET (ALT), and if you are a high school or junior high school/elementary school JET (ALT)*. ALTs, you might be at more than one school but you won’t know that in this email, but later on from your contracting organisation or predecessor.

* Typically, but not always, if you are a prefectural ALT JET, you will be at SHS. Likewise, if you are a municipal ALT, you will most likely be at a JHS/ES.

For 2019, many short-listed candidates started getting results May 16th, with results coming out staggered until mid-June.

If you don’t hear anything by mid-June, I would suggest you contact your consulate/embassy for assistance.

One of the most important things to know about your placement results is that they are final. You do not get to request a change of placement. Once you get those results, it’s take it or leave. You can reject the placement but doing so also rejects your spot on the program.

Think very carefully about this decision. Some countries officially ban you from the program and you can never reapply to be a JET again. The United Kingdom is one of the sections that bans its applicants, however there is talk that this might change in the future. Other countries ban you from reapplying for one year.

You need to take a moment to think whether or not your placement is going to be deal breaker or if you are ok with just being in Japan.

If you are certain that you are ok with your placement, then you will have to formally accept the offer to your consulate/embassy.

Once you accept your offer you will have to wait some more for further information directly from your Contracting Organisation/Board of Education (CO/BOE). Detailed information and future correspondents regarding your placement should all now be coming from your CO rather than your consulate/embassy.

Your CO might send you an email or snail mail or both. Some COs don’t contact JETs until July even, which is an anxiety-ridden wait. No news is typically ok until July. If you still haven’t heard anything by July, I would reach out to your consulate/embassy to put a bit of pressure on CLAIR and your CO.

Once you hear from your CO, you might still have more waiting, or you might have a steady stream of communication set up. Take the chance to talk to your CO or predecessor and ask them questions. It is your CO’s job to make this transition as easy as possible for you, but also be mindful that they are dealing with an outgoing JET as well and having to deal with a lot of bureaucracy.

You might also hear from your predecessor, if you have one. Not all JETs have a predecessor, and even some that do have one do not necessarily take over all their schools/housing.

While waiting for news from your CO, you should keep yourself busy by saving money for potential start-up costs, which can be steep. CLAIR recommends new JETs to brings at least 3,000 USD to 4,000 USD with them to cover moving costs. Your CO is not required to lend you any money nor will they likely do so—in rare cases, some do in emergency situations.

You should also join your placement’s local AJET/IJET group on Facebook, as well as your block’s group. Prefectures on JET are grouped in certain blocks and it makes it easier to get information from people in these groups. In your local group, you might be able to find out who your predecessor is (if you have one).  Try to make friends in your local group and get to know your future home.

For me, you can check out my initial reaction post on my placement here.

My results came in May 16th and I initially heard back from my CO a week or so later. The initial email was simply to introduce my supervisor to me and to ask me to “please wait patiently”. After that, it took another 2-3 weeks for me to hear anything back at all because my contract was sent via physical post. I sent my supervisor an email informing them that I received the contract and that initiated a more steady flow of communication. My predecessor had not contacted me, but I was able to get their information from my supervisor and reached out to them. Most of June was spent with back and forth emails between my supervisor and I, and messages via Facebook with my predecessor. July was a pretty quiet month between my CO and I after my housing situation as sorted.

Congrats JETs on getting your placement and I hope that you make the most of it! Get involved in your online community and start building those connections. It is what you make of it. Go in with a positive mindset and you will be surprised at how amazing the situation may become.

Good luck JETsetters!


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