Hey guys, I'm so glad to see there's a group just for the alternates. From here on out, most of the focus will be on the short-listers. And, I won't lie, it will suck. You'll feel left out and probably like you're dangling on a thread of hope while not hearing anything for days weeks or months. My fellow coordinators and I actually do this on purpose; we don't want to include you in all of the emails we send to the short-listers because we don't want to tease you with something that you may or may not have the chance to participate with. We feel for you guys, and I know I personally love when I hear that I have an upgrade to make. Hearing the excitement on the phone from an upgraded alternate absolutely makes my day.
So, before the focus completely turns to the short-listers, I want to talk to you guys.
I want to let you guys know that you should feel so proud for making it this far. I was absolutely blown away by the applicants I saw this year, and I heard the same thing from my fellow coordinators. You guys did everything you were supposed to do - you made our job incredibly hard. So, thank you for the agony of trying to make recommendations from so many fantastic people. It was hard, and it made me hate my job (because I knew there would be deserving people who would be ultimately rejected or put on the alternate list).
I also want you to know that it's not necessarily a "better" or "worse" thing. You weren't rejected; you were accepted... only, there's not enough space for you at this time. That means you have all of the qualities and experience we look for in a JET Program participant. Unfortunately, it may well be that others you interviewed with simply had a bit more and were ranked higher. It comes down to numbers; the cutoff was unfortunately above where you were.
Many of you WILL be upgraded. This usually happens in waves. The first one will happen likely in the first week or two of May. That is when we receive the Reply Forms from short-listers back, and we're able to see how many people have turned down their positions. The second wave is at the end of May, when short-listers receive their placements. It's less common, but there are always a few who turn down JET because they don't like their placement (they will not be permitted to reapply the next year, but some will turn it down anyway). The third wave is before departure in late July and early August when a few candidates will freak out and change their minds. In between and after those waves, there will be additional upgrades. Candidates change their minds, sudden problems at home arise and they have to withdraw, they break contract soon after arriving, other current JETs break contract, etc... So, we do have upgrades through December (occasionally we have ones in January and even February, but officially we say the cutoff is in December).
I know a lot of you want to know where you are on an alternate list. That won't help. First of all, we're not permitted to release that information. Second of all, it's not necessarily an accurate reflection of your chances of an upgrade. Sometimes we can go straight down the alternate lists and upgrade whoever is at the top. However, sometimes we have special requirements (find someone with a driver's license, find someone who speaks French, find someone who is from Omaha, etc...) for our alternate upgrades, and sometimes we're actually told specifically who to upgrade. So, even if you're at the bottom of the list, for all you know it could well be that you have something that a Contracting Organization specifically wants, and you could be the first one upgraded.
Now, it is true that many of you will NOT be upgraded. It's simply how JET works. There are far more qualified applicants than we have positions for. But, again, if you made it to the alternate stage it means that you have what it takes to be a JET. Unfortunately, if you reapply the next year (as many do), you will have to go through the whole process all over again. There is no guarantee you will be accepted or even make it to the interview stage the next year. My recommendation is to take a little time to process the result and then, in a few weeks, look at your application again. Go over it with friends and family members. What do you have that really makes you stand out? What sections are blank that maybe you can build up in anticipation of next year? Maybe you felt you interviewed poorly. That's not uncommon. Everyone knows the answers to all of the questions when you're NOT put in the spotlight, but when you are, you're liable to turn mute or maybe talk too much. So, how can you learn to become more comfortable with interviewing situations?
Some of the best JETs I know were initially alternates. Moreover, sometimes upgraded alternates get more out of the JET experience than those who were initial short-listers (because they know they nearly didn't get it). You're not out of the running yet, but unfortunately, it will mean more waiting and uncertainty.
It takes a lot of courage to keep your name in the running. I applaud and respect you. And I wish you all the best!
JET Program Coordinator
Consulate General of Japan in Miamihttp://www.miami.us.emb-japan.go.jp/en/jetprogram.html