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

JET Program Shortlisted/Early Departure VLOG

Video

Just a short video about being shortlisted with the 2012 JET Program and my sporadic early placement in Kobe-shi, Hyogo.

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 🙂

My JET Program 2012 Melbourne Interview Experience + Bonus Advice

This is going to be a long long longpost!!!!!!!!
So today was the day of my ALT JET Program interview at the Melbourne consulate and honestly things couldn’t have gone better, no surprises Melbourne’s weather lived up to its notoriety with it being 35 degrees but also storming in the afternoon with insanely heavy flash rain!

So I’ll talk about what I did to prepare for the interview a little later on, but I’ll first recap what i did to get into the right state of mind in the morning, I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time relaxing before my interview rather than cramming since iv been working at it for weeks and to be fair if I didn’t know what I wanted to say on the morning of the interview revising wouldn’t help!

– I woke up really early as I couldn’t sleep due to nerves

– Had a high fibre breakfast

– Played with my pug Fuji for a while.

– Swam 50 laps in my pool.

– Had a shave and shower.

– SUITED UP!

– Verbally went through all 30 or so questions I had thought up extended answers to in a mock interview pretending my interview panel was this kitsune mask on my wall.

I was lucky enough that my brother offered to take me to my interview, usually I wouldn’t ask but it was 35 degrees and the last thing i wanted to do was sit an hour on a bus/train/tram in the heat on the way to the consulate. I arrived super early (like 2 hours) as I wanted to be 100% sure that even in the worst case scenario I wouldn’t be late however no such thing occurred so I waited until around 45min before to actually enter the consulate as not to appear too keen.

The waiting room was nothing like what I was expecting based on things I had read in forum posts and blogs, no JET aluminum to talk to, no cheesy JET program video. I guess there a US/UK thing……..

Basically just a desk in the consulates library with a jug of water on the table, there were no bonuses for arriving early unless the lady at the desk was noting my check in time.

They were doing 3 interviews at a time in separate rooms with half an hour for each. Also I didn’t notice any body walking out of the interview shaking or anything, everyone had a smile on their face which was very reassuring and it was very comforting to see everyone had had similar experiences preparing for the interview.
There was one Japanese looking girl sitting in the waiting room when I arrived, I tried my best to chat to her, but she was very quiet and answered all my questions with short one word answers.
As the awkwardness grew progressively thicker my imagination began to run wild as I got this sneaking suspicion that she was some sort of spy from the consulate to see if we would make small talk when put in a room with a stranger. Eventually I realized I was perhaps just on the paranoid side of things XD
As her interview was half an hour before mine she was soon off and replaced by the other 2 applicants who were to be interviewed alongside me, luckily these guys were a lot more chatty and we got along just fine discussing the painful ordeal that is ‘JET Program Interview Hell’, even shouted to each other がんばれ as we headed in.
Keeping consistent with everything iv read about the Australian interview process it seems like we really do get it easy, par usual there was a former JET participant,a consulate employee and a native Japanese speaker who was incredibly friendly but whose job now escapes me.
There was no 3 meter void between myself and the panel, I was simply seated on the other side of a regular desk and they didn’t play was good cop, bad cop with me either and they all seemed to be genuinely interested in me and what I had to say.
I’m thinking I might just utilize a couple of these fantastic web-comics from this series called ‘Life After the B.O.E.’ in future posts,
which are all about life on the JET Program(me).
They are done by a former JET CIR named David Namisato.
If your interested check them all out here:
Honestly the entire interview was an absolute blur but here’s the questions that I remember:
– Tell us a little about yourself, why do you want to do the JET Program?
– How will JET fit into your career goals?
– What would you include if you were to present Australian at a local cultural fair?
– Would you be happy to sing karaoke in front of your co-workers at an enkai?
 (I said i love singing even though i am terrible at it, then i asked them if they would like me to sing, the consulate employee said ‘sure please sing a song you would sing to primary school children’, I had been practising ‘heads and shoulders, knees and toes’ for weeks ^_^ However I also came with backup plans, if they had asked me to sing a song that would be appropriate for highschool I had prepared to sing ‘Hot n’ Cold by Katy Perry as it would be good to teach opposites, and I had ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ memorized like a boss in case a cultural song was asked of me)
– What do you know about current social issues in Japan?
– So I see you picked Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture and Saitama Prefecture do you have some attachment to these places?
– What if you are put in an inaka placement, how will you cope?
– Tell us some of your strengths? What is your greatest weakness?
– What would you do if the JTE made an obvious English error during a class?
– A couple questions in nihon-go about myself.
– Do you have any questions for us?
At the end of the interview they asked me to re-fill out my medical forms as apparently the second page of it had mysteriously gone missing, I totally impressed them by saying well I can actually do one better, I brought along a copy of my application so here it is a copy of the original =P
Then they we had a chat about me being allergic to oysters and how I will need a doctors certificate to bring an eppipen into Japan, then i jokingly asked to please not be put in a town where oysters are the regional speciality (which is Hokkaido) as I might die of anaphylaxis!
Now I’ll tell you a little about how I prepared for the interview…….
As I mentioned in my previous post ever since i got back from holidays over new years I have been spending a couple of hours a day revising pretty much every single conceivable potential question I could think up and find on the internet.
I had so many amazing answers to questions that I worked on and practised over and over for hours, unfortunately I didnt get asked most of them as there’s only so much time in that room but here are a couple extra that you might want to prepare for that I didn’t get asked but others did:
– Why do you want to teach in Japan and not Korea or China?
– What 3 Items would you bring to represent Australia?
– What would you do if a child was misbehaving in class?
– How would you deal with inappropriate questions from a student?
– What do you know about the Japanese school system?
– What things do you know about Japan?
– What would you say if a student asked you about whaling?
Now I am very fortunate in that I have a job where quite often I find myself with very very little to do but sit around and look pretty for much of the day, so I have been dedicating this immense amount of downtime to studying up profusely,after almost 2 months of this I ended up filling up 2 whole work books with potential questions and answers.
Do you really need to work as hard as I did?? Probably not…… a lot of people probably get in who didn’t but at the end of day if you really want to be a JET participant isn’t it worth the effort?
The absolute best resource you can utilize is jumping on the JET Forums, now there’s the official one http://www.jetprogramme.org/forums/ however I very much preferred I Think I’m Lost (ITIL) http://www.ithinkimlost.com/.
I have used it daily since I started my SoP last year and users are more than happy to help with every step of the JET application process.
DON’T JUST LURK!! JOIN THE COMMUNITY!!
Just a note though that forum has a 1337ist vibe and theres a couple moderators that seem to take pleasure in ripping on weeaboo’s.
Also if your reading this looking for interview tips, although I have tried mybest don’t discount  google(ing) every conceivable mash up of JET Interview kinda search terms you can think of ‘eg. Melbourne JET Program Interview 2012’, you will be amazed at the amount of helpful blogs(like this one ^_^) you will stumble upon.
IF YOU HAVE READ THIS FAR…….. THE CAKEIS A LIE!
and now its finally time to get insanely drunk, get on with life and forget all those interview questions I have been cramming my brain full of for the past few months wewwwww