Aspiring JET Program Applicants

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I recently found this in my notes folder on my iPhone, it was a list of aspirations I wrote exactly on this day 12 months ago.
This perfectly sums up the kind of ambition one must have when applying for the JET Program as it certainly is no easy road and one by one I ticked all those things off my ‘to do’ list!
Having now been working as an ALT in Kobe for over 4 months I can certainly say, although getting in was by far the hardest thing I have worked for in my entire life, it by far was worth every moment!

Moving to Japan and participating in JET has been the best decision I have ever made. Sure moving to a whole new country is never going be an easy transition and my experience thus far has certainly had its up’s and downs, however at the end of the day I am much happier here than I ever was living in Australia.

Did I get my placement? Yes absolutely, I don’t want to imply that your chances of reviving your placement request is huge. But at the end if the day I asked for Kobe and 12 months down the road here I am, loving life.

Also I urge you to tick that little box that says your willing to leave early, if I hadn’t I would never be here.
If you would like any advice or have any questions, leave me a comment.

So please if your just putting together your application for 2013-14 now let this inspire you, as nothing is impossible if you have the ambition and put in the hard yards!

-Daniel

Sporadic Early Placement in Kobe-shi!!!

So at around 8:15 this evening I received a call from a peculiar number on my iPhone that I had never seen before. I answered only to my surprise to be greeted by a call from the Melbourne JET Program co-ordinator offering me nothing more than everything i have always dreamed of.

She apologized for calling at such a late hour but wanted to contact me ASAP as she had just received a message from Tokyo offering me an early departure spot to you guessed to KOBE CITY!!!

The only catch being that its short notice and I will need to depart on May 30th 2 months before the rest of the Australians heading over with group A.

She needs me to accept by this Thursday and since tomorrow is ANZAC day here in Australia if she hadn’t called me this evening it would have had to wait till Thursday when I would have had to give her a yes or no answer on the spot. At least this way I have 40 hours or so to decide my fate…….

Honestly this is really a dream come true for me, although I dont really want to leave 60 days before every one else (not to mention the fact I will miss Tokyo Orientation) i figure there are quite a few pro’s to this.

Pro’s

  • I will get my dream placement of Kobe city (pretty much regarded as winning the lottery in terms of placement).
  • I get to skip Melbourne s notoriously horrid winter going straight from autumn back into Kobe s summer once I cross the equator!
  • In Kobe (and the rest of Hyogo for that matter) JET’s receive subsidized rent, no key money and in Kobe transport is paid for. Also this means I likely wont need to waste money on a car as Kobe is so central.
  • I score an extra 2 months as a JET as if I stay at least a 2nd year the contract ends in July.
  • The insane waiting for placement/departure will be largely over.

Con’s

  • This will of course put an awful lot of pressure on me to pack up my life in Melbourne ASAP as I have major things to work out quickly such as organizing my investment property, working out tax status, quitting job at Museum Victoria, buying a laptop, selling car, etc.
  • I will be in the unique position of being one of the few JET’s to unfortunately miss Tokyo Orientation.
  • I have an incredible amount of guilt in that I will be leaving my parents a week after my brother leaves on a 2 month trip to Europe, effectively throwing them in the deep end with an empty house for the first time in 25 years!
At the end of the day though I didn’t think twice about taking her up on the offer, if I rejected it who knows where I may have ended up come July 29th when everyone else leaves.

So its official I’m Kobe City’s newest ALT on the JET Program ^______^

I am Shortlisted!!!

I can’t even describe what im feeling at the moment!!!!!

I just rushed home early from work, ran to post box and there was my letter from the Japanese consulate, I vigorously ripped it open and tears swelled to my eyes as I read that I had been shortlisted for the 2012 JET Program! I’d go into more detail regarding the animalistic screaming and involuntary flash-dancing that ensured, however I shall abstain from elaborating and retain some dignity.

Its been an enduring period of anticipation leading up to the results (62 days in fact), I’m not exaggerating when I say that waiting is by the most difficult part of the JET Program application process.

For the past 2 months I have kept my mind off my ambiguous future by studying Japanese as much as humanly possible and occupying my evenings marathoning TV series. I became exceedingly engrossed in Zombie fiction after watching The Walking Dead and as a result find myself constantly criticality assessing buildings I pass on their potential of defending against the Zombie apocalypse………. yes applying for the JET Program probably definitely will make you this kind of crazy.

The wide range of emotions I have gone through during this period have been testing at times, everything from brash overconfidence to weeks of sleepless nights plagued by rejection (often zombie themed) nightmares.

However I always fell back on the thought that if I were to start the whole application process over from the beginning, would I do it any differently? Well no.

I worked harder putting together my Statement of Purpose and studying for my interview than I have for anything else in my entire life! God if I was this dedicated at university I would have graduated with honours. =P

One of the hardest contributing factors is not having anyone to talk about the frustrations one goes through waiting with (bar the forums) as the JET talk got old with my friends and family long ago. It would have been amazing to have a friend applying alongside me if only for the moral support.

I have read through the JET Program General Information Handbook (GIH) and found it incredibly informative, in fact I wish I had come across it prior to my interview as much of the information contained within it regarding conflict resolution and living in Japan is interview gold (note: the current years GIH is released in February each year)!!!

Now how to kill the time for the next month or so before placements are released…….

So Am I Still Waiting

So another month has passed and I am still waiting for a response from the Melbourne consulate. The cause for the delay is unknown to me but frequenting the official and ITIL forums I discovered the results were sent from Tokyo last Monday (the 9th).

They came out on the 16th last year (the delays understandably a result of 3/11 as in prior years they came out around the 4-5th) which is why the delay this year is peculiar.

Most countries send their results out via email however due to some quirk the Australians must wait for notification via snail mail…….why would they do this when it serves nothing more than the purpose of  delaying notification by another week, now this is a valid question.

I guess this really does reflect the entire JET Program application for Australian hopefuls (which iv discussed in detail in former posts) as a whole which is completely paper based unlike the american system which is now mostly online, certainly strange in this day and age.

This has been especially painfully as all week i have been watching as my friends on the forums posting that the have been shortlisted whilst I twiddle my thumbs ignorant of my future. The American consulates Guam, Detroit, New York in retrospect were certainly on the ball releasing their results only hours after receiving them from Tokyo, further reading can be found in this thread on the official forums.

Regardless I received an email on Wednesday stating that we should receive our results between the 16-17th so I shouldnt be whining as the hard part is all but over, surely i can wait another 2 days.

On a side note through my eternal quest to kill time, I have been doing a little data mining looking through the ITIL  forum archives and noticed that if you compare the number of forum users this year resisted as 2012 applicants  compared to the past 2 prior there is literally like half as many!

2010 Total: 158
2011 Total: 126
2012 Total: 79!!!!

Does this reflect a drop in applicant numbers or are the simply forums becoming less popular (ITIL members typicaly represent 5-10% of total JET applicants). I cant imagine either of those being accurate so it shall remain a mystery for the moment. However looking at those stats certainly do wonders for my self esteem.

Anyhow hopefully I will have good news to bring to the table in my next post 🙂

Jet Program Interview Notification!!!!

やった!!!!!!!!!

wewwwwwwww!!!! I just received a letter in the post from the Japanese consulate stating that I passed the first stage of the screening process for the 2012 JET Program and have been offered an interview in February!!!!! As it is my birthday tomorrow I consider this the best birthday present I could ever wish for (that said the Canon EOS 600D I got is pretty flippin sweet!!).

I’v been having nightmares for weeks now that I would receive a rejection letter so it certainly comes as a relief now I can focus solely on preparing for the interview, in fact I feel as though I am almost ready for it since I have spent the last 3 weeks revising past interview questions, crafting and memorizing ideal responses and pretty much intensely researching as much about Japan as possible in preparation.

Participating in the JET program has been a dream I have aspired to for many years now so it all feels quite surreal to finally be facing the interview, I worked harder than I have on anything else in my entire life on that application and to be honest I never thought for a moment that I wouldn’t be offered an interview, which is why I jumped straight into preparing for it after the new year!!

Anyway one hurdle down, now back to studying ^____^

I leave you with the saddest pug in the world

JET Program 2012 Pay Scale and Tax Changes

So finally today there was some clarification from CLAIR about the changes to the remuneration for JET Programme participants in 2012.
These changes have been the subject of fierce debate and speculation on the JET Program and ITIL forums over the past few months since the sliding pay scale and pre-tax remuneration was announced around a month ago when the applications were released.

Here is the news on the official JET Program website……. sadly it’s not the good kind of news
http://jetprogramme.org/e/news/remuneration_change.html

Basically in short the JET Program pipe dream is over with new participants receiving a hefty pay cut as of next year…… which would include me v_v

Up until now, the yearly remuneration for JET Programme participants has been set at approximately 3.6 million yen post-tax.

As of 2012 the new sliding scale will pay will be as follows
3.36m million yen for the first appointment,
3.6m yen for the second appointment,
3.9m yen for the third appointment and
3.96m yen for those appointed for a fourth and fifth year.

See this would be fine and all since it costs contracting organizations a huge amount of money to get new JET’s so its in their best interest to encourage participants to re-contract and this system I believe would work.
My issue is that this pay scale rather than being AFTER TAX like it used to be is now going to be BEFORE TAX!!
Now the tax system in Japan is a tad complicated since it comprises of Income Tax (10%), Local inhabitants tax  (varies by prefecture but around 10%) and JET participants are required to pay a compulsory pension & national insurance which is about  40,000 yen a month.
What will the final post tax pay, well that’s still up in the air and I’m sure will differ from person to person

What really annoys me is that due to a tax treaty American ALTs will be exempt from Japanese tax where as first year, non-U.S.-ALT JETs will need to pay tax out of their 3.36million per year

and the reasons for these changes……
What is the reason for the change in remuneration? (Quoted from http://jetprogramme.org)
-To provide incentive for participants who
are appointed for more than one term.
-To reduce the financial burden for contracting
organisations and to reduce the complicated
administrative procedures when calculating
a post-tax remuneration.

Basically the JET Program is trolling us

Maybe they could try saving a little money by cutting some of the extravagant all expenses paid conferences that are held every year instead if things are that tight, at the end of the day where this pay cut is a drop of water to a government organization it is very substantial to the average JET applicant. 
I  think this initial pay cut may be due to the lack in government funding due to the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. However I am just happy they decided not to put the JET Program on the chopping block which has been rumoured for years. But hey I’m sure this year will be much easier to get into as a result, surely the pay cut will be to deter at least a couple applicants.


Personally, as long as I have a couple 100$ extra to send home every month to service my mortgage I’ll be content, I’m not in JET for the money, I’m applying because it seems like an organic step in my life to achieve my aspirations. JET for me is the stepping stone I have dreamed of for half a decade, so am I disheartened by this news? Not in the least, I’ll be in Japan soon enough! がんばって!

Anyway I’m off, since it was Halloween yesterday here’s a cosplaying Nyanpug!!!


The JET Program Application: Putting It All Together

Oh Haizzzzzzzz,
So I thought I might go into my experience in preparing my JET Program application thus far. Anyone who is applying or ever has applied before will tell you this is certainly a  less than exhilarating ordeal.
There are 2 different positions avalible to Australia applicants which are either ALT or CIR, I will be applying for the ALT position as to be a CIR  applicants must be fluent in both English an Japanese. Overall most JET’s are ALT’s with around 10% in the CIR position.
Also note I will be discussing the Australian application process, however since there is generally only a few difference in the process from country to country this will certainly still be useful to aspiring applicants from the US/UK/Canada/etc.
Basically it comprises of around 9 parts depending on your circumstances, I believe the gruelling amount of paperwork that is required of the aspiring JET’s applicant is not simply the result of the Japan being the crazy bureaucratic nation that it is, but is in fact the first hurdle to prove applicants are not total no0bs, have some grasp of English grammar and can follow the complex instructions that the application demands.
To add injury to the wound, Australian applicants are required to submit 3 copies of the entire application for god knows what reason, all which must be meticulously arranged and ordered without the use of any staples!
Anyway this is the check-list iv taken from the 2012 Australian application.
Documents:
l) Application Form
2) Self Assessment Medical Report
3) Statement of Purpose (Essay) 
Typed, single-sided, doubled-spaced on A4 paper, not exceeding two pages.
4) Letters of Reference from two referees
5) Certified academic transcript of all tertiary courses

6) Certified copy of degree testamur
7) Certified document which shows your nationality

Although these forms came out less than a week ago I have been working on mine for the last 2 months or so. Would that be as I’m on the neurotic side of things….. perhaps, but as application forms are  usually 99% the same it’s fairly safe to use last years forms to get a head start on your application.
Arguably the most important part will be you SoP (Statement of Purpose) which is an essay of sorts in which you will be essentially required to sell your soul to JET in around 700 words , the Australian question for quite sometime has been as follows:
“If you were successful in your application, what particular goals would you like to achieve, and what specific contributions do you think you could make in your position as a CIR or ALT?”
How long did I spend on my SoP, well im actually still working on it and its now in its 23rd inception, luckily for me I have 2 very good friends I work with, one a writer, the other an editor, having them proofread my SoP again and again along with sending it off to current JET’s I have met in the ITIL forum for proofreading it’s really started to shine. With such a tight word limit every sentence has to have a purpose and a reason for existing. I know many applicants write theirs in a night and some are even accepted, for me however i have spent dozens and dozens of hours tweaking it here and there. Will I ever be happy with it, well in certainly proud of what I have written, but content with it…… well that’s ultimately the question.
Acronyms
JET – Japanese Exchange and Teaching
ALT – Assistant Language Teacher
CIR – Coordinator for International Relations
NEXT TIME ON NIHONOMOM….
I am delicious!!!!
Oh by the way you will soon come to learn I have a thing for pugs and think I might just end my posts with them from now on, so to begin with this is my bastard of a dog Fuji, omnomnomnomnom