I figure I could make an application process post since many people might be seeking it soon since the application might be opening up soon. I will try to remember as much as I can but it has been a year since I did it.
The paper application opens around October and this is only the beginning. Consider this paperwork the easy part in the whole process. The application itself is a billion pages long with so many pieces to it that it is easy for things to get lost in the shuffle, so try to be as organized as possible. I saved so many copies and printed it and color coded everything, post-it notes, binder clips, everything to keep what I needed in order. I also made a check list of everything I needed (even though the application provides you with one), but it included little things like getting my transcripts and where and how, letters of recommendation and the like, and other little things (if I get my hands on my notebook, I can scan it and show it later). There isn’t much I can offer about the paper application in terms of advice (and not getting into the nitty gritty details of what to put where since it is pretty self explanatory) except these few points:
- Stay organized and back up everything. The application is long and you don’t want to lose your data and start over. That is really just advice for life when working with technology anyway.
- Start early in gathering your transcripts, especially if you were out of state. It may take a while for your transcripts to get to you if you went to multiple schools like I did (one of which being on the other side of the state). I was panicking a little bit last minute because of what transcript to get and what information it had to have on it, especially if you studied abroad. This will ease your mind in the long run and again, it is really general advice on life to start early on things and don’t procrastinate.
- Be prepared to spend some money on this application. That includes printing costs and transcript costs. Small prices to pay for a chance at being accepted. Also know that there will be more costs afterwards such as clothing, omiyage, additional paperwork, all of those things that are necessary.
- When filling out your preferences, keep in mind the most popular places. People often put Tokyo or Kyoto or Osaka as a preference, but these places are highly populated with foreigners to begin with so the chances of getting placed there are slim. It can happen, but don’t give your hopes up. Instead, I would suggest somewhere relatively close by so you could just take a train to those places.
Eligibility: as long as you have a bachelor’s degree in anything, you are fine. It does help to have it in something related to teaching or Japan or English, but it is not required. If you are a current master’s student, this next part is for you (if not, feel free to skip). I was a master’s student and I put on my application that I would graduate in Spring 2014 so I would have my degree by July 1, 2014, the deadline to have the degree. Well, I had so much stuff I was doing (teaching three classes [one of them from scratch with no textbook], working, writing a thesis, writing research papers, writing everything) so that set my graduation date to summer instead of spring, meaning I would have my master’s degree in August instead of July. If you are in the same boat as me, don’t worry. JET only cares about the bachelor’s degree and that’s it. As long as you have that before July 1, you are fine, even if you put it on your application that you would have it by a certain time and you don’t.
Statement of Purpose: think long and hard about these two pieces of paper for you have to represent yourself as best as you possibly can. Present yourself confidently but not too narcissistic that people may think you are full of yourself. Talk about what experiences you have or skills you possess that would make you a great ALT or CIR. I talked about my past teaching experiences, both in the classroom and out. Talk about why Japan (because trust me, this will come up A LOT in conversation and in the interview too). Once you have it written, I would suggest showing it to a teacher or professional, someone who knows what a purpose statement is supposed to look like for advice and tips. You want it to be as perfect as possible.
The JET Programme is very particular with their paperwork and getting it in on time, so if you are late, you can kiss that interview goodbye. Send all your things early and get tracking information for them. It needs to be on the desk of wherever you need to send it by the deadline, NOT postmarked and sent on that date (at least that was how it was in the states). Yes, it will cost you a fair bit of money printing and sending things, but if you are serious about getting this gig, you gotta do what you gotta do. Save your receipts though. If you get the job, you might be able to ride it off on your taxes.
The deadline to send in the application is late November to early December, depending on your country (although it is probably similar throughout). I would recommend sending it in at least a week before that date but if you can do it sooner, do it sooner. This may save you later on if it gets lost in the mail because like I said, if it is late, bye bye interview and job. The idea is you could have done it sooner, you could have sent it sooner, and you knew the deadline. So there really is no excuse why the application should be late and that is a fact.
Once you send in the application, you wait a little bit and soon you will receive a piece of paper in the mail with your name and your application ID number. Remember this number for it will tell you if you got an interview or not. Then all you can do now…is wait. You will not know if you got an interview until around January, so that is about one to two months of waiting. Luckily it is around the holidays so you will be plenty busy. Try not to think about it too much and always have a backup plan.
That’s about it for the paper application process. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I will answer them to the best of my ability from what I could remember. The more information you have, the better so ask around and get your questions answered. Next, I will take you through the interview process!