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(UPDATED) JET Programme: I am going for it!

Sun Jan 12 2014
UPDATE: I am putting this on hold for the time being for reasons I will discuss in a future post. I will explain more in detail within the next week or so. Original post: So I have decided that I am going to apply for the JET Programme. I am making my first move towards living and working in Japan.

The JET Programme?

For those of you who don't know, the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Programme is a program designed to promote and facilitate international exchange between Japan and other countries. Basically what this means is that it is a way for someone such as myself to learn about Japan, it's language, culture and history. In exchange, the person (me, in this case) would provide the Japanese people with a unique perspective of the United States, along with it's culture and history, in addition to the English language (at least, in my case). The bottom line is that if one is accepted into the JET Programme, they get to live and work in Japan. In the JET Programme, there are 3 positions to apply for. They are:
  1. ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) - These are teacher's aides that assist Japanese teachers of English (or another language) with preparing course materials such as lesson plans and classroom activities, as well as assisting with extracurricular activities like clubs. Most JET participants are ALTs, and this is the position I will be applying for. {{1}}
  2. CIR (Coordinator for International Relations) - People in this position work with local government offices on international exchange activities, mostly translating/interpreting. Obviously, one must minimally possess a functional command of the Japanese language to qualify for this position.
  3. SEA (Sports Exchange Advisor) - This position works with local governments, coaching and general promotion of internationalization through sports. These positions are extremely rare - this page on the JET website mentions there only being 7 (seven) SEAs placed in the 2012-2013 year throughout Japan.

Great! Where do I apply?

Woah, horsey. Slow down. Back the hockey puck up. I am aware half of the folks reading this article probably stumbled onto it looking for a detailed guide on applying. Just to be clear, this article is not that. The above was only giving an intro to the program and what it does. This article (and series) will detail my experience with the application process. If you want info on where to apply, I'd suggest starting here.  

Right, then. Moving on.

My goal with this series is to detail my steps in the application process. At the "end" of the process, I will provide a list of things I feel worked for me and ones that did not (hopefully a short list). This series will be ongoing as I continue my journey and (hopefully) after I get accepted. One thing I have noticed is there isn't a whole lot of information out there from folks who have made it into the program. Thus, another of my goals is to provide the before, during and after snapshots of this entire process. Of course, I'm sure there will be aspects of this process that I can not (or will not, to protect the privacy of others) discuss. I am hoping that list is a short one as well. Getting into the JET Programme will be no small task. For starters, there is a monolithic list of requirements and action items just to apply to the program, saying nothing of getting accepted. My list of requirements is here (from the Japanese Embassy in the United States). A list of participating embassies is listed here. My perspective is that it would be best to knock out as many of these items as possible right now, rather than closer to the application date. This will allow me to be better prepared when the time comes and not have to scramble to get everything together at the last minute. Some of my immediate action items to get started on will be:
  1. Drafting, writing, re-writing and more re-writing of my Statement of Purpose. I expect to write about 20 or so drafts of this to get it as clean cut and perfect as possible.
  2. Obtaining my 2 professional Letters of Reference. I am still determining who the best folks are for this, but I'm hoping to have the ball rolling on this in a week or less.
I'm also beginning to compile a list of sites with common interview questions asked so that I can prepare for those items as well. I am sure that I will need to do a lot of research into this topic (more than anything else, I'm sure) for the interview. Once I have this list, I will post it here as well. In addition, I will post the questions I got asked here if I make it to the interview stage.

Okay, here I go!

Without any further ado, I am now off to begin organizing my application process. Wish me luck!   [[1]] Note that Japanese proficiency is *NOT* required for this position![[1]]