I am a history major at the University of Oregon, who plans to apply for the JET Program once the Fall term rolls around. I suppose you could consider this a 'greetings' post/self introduction type of thing, with a few questions tacked on.
I am (hopefully) two semesters away from completing my degree requirements, that is, a major in history. I had planned to get a minor in Japanese, but unfortunately my financial situation limits me to two more semesters, one short of what I would need. However, I'm hoping that my interest in Japanese history, literature, film and culture will make up a bit for this shortcoming. Being well traveled, I love going to other countries, although it's something I don't get to do nearly as often as I like, my last trip was to the UK back in 2006. I had high hopes when the Japanese government announced its tourism initiative, but I had heard that it was (perhaps wisely) cancelled in favor of providing further relief money to those affected by the earthquake, so no dice on a trip to Japan before applying to JET.
Besides my Japanese, I have a (very) passing familiarity with Russian and Spanish, an impressive collection of video games (probably the thing that got me interested in Japan in the first place, to be honest,) and an extensive library of assorted fantasy and science fiction novels. I am, in short, a serious nerd.
Now, I had a few questions which I hope aren't too overly common:
1. I have a distinct lack of 'real' job experience. Unfortunately I graduated from high school at exactly the wrong time economically, and found that nobody was willing to hire me because...Well, nobody was hiring. Afterwards, I found that nobody was willing to hire me because I was a college student with no job experience, a rather frustrating position to be in. What I do have, however, is a whole lot of volunteer hours, both from my time in the Boy Scouts as well as working with the National and State Park services of Oregon and Arizona. I'm also looking into volunteering at a local library for the summer, since, this being a tourist town which was rather badly affected by the same earthquake that struck Japan, nobody is hiring.
My question is, therefore, will the fact that I have, in effect, never had a 'real' job affect my application severely, despite good recommendations? I'm hoping the Japanese government is more willing to take into consideration the fact that I was willing to work quite hard for no money at all as a statement of good character than potential US employers
2. I had looked into education and language teaching courses here at the U of O, but it seems that most of them are specifically tailored for majors in those areas, rather than people looking to gain a bit of experience. I've seen in other topics that this isn't really essential to a JET application, but I was hoping for a bit of experience in those areas before hurling myself into a classroom environment. Are there any recommendations in that area? Maybe some course I'm overlooking for those here who happen to be familiar with the U of O's course catalog?
3. Out of curiosity, are computer skills a relevant matter for JET applicants? One of the places I volunteered at for some time was, in fact, a computer repair shop where I was hoping to apply for a job after some 'apprenticeship', although unfortunately the place went under. Like I said, the economy was pretty bad where I lived, even in comparison to the rest of the country. I have a few years of experience with various computer repair and maintenance people, both in the repair shop and in the aforementioned park services. I have something of a talent for explaining to people how to repair things on their own, and have even managed to get my grandparents to use something other than Internet Explorer, something which I put up there as one of my great life achievements given that it was a struggle of attrition on par with the first world war.
Thank you for your time in reading this, and good luck to all my fellow (hopeful) applicants.