DowneasterJC wrote:Hi guys,
I'm planning on applying for JET (in the US) once applications become available, but I was just wondering if there was anything I can go ahead and get a head start on before the application process starts, in order to get my application in as early as possible? I'm already working on my SoP, and as soon as the semester starts in a couple of weeks I plan on asking some professors if they would be willing to write a reference letter, but is that all I can do beforehand?
Also, another question I've been worrying about but that isn't really going to affect my decision to apply:
I know that the official stance is "no experience is required", but how important is it to have some sort of international and/or teaching experience? I hear that the program is very competitive, so I'm just curious as to how much my lack of teaching experience would hurt my application points. I do have some teaching experience and some international experience in Kenya, but that's about the bulk of it. Plus, my teaching/tutoring experience was mostly "off-the books", as it mostly occurred while my Japanese tutor was busy and had a lot of 101 students in. I would help them with some of their questions while I was waiting for my turn, but it was by no means anything official.
Then again, I'm probably blowing the problem out of proportion as I'm a former pre-med student, so when I hear "this program is competitive", I immediately imagine the cutthroat medical school application process.
Another question that just came up:
Would it be alright if one of my reference letters was written by a GTA instead of an actual professor? I ask because my Japanese tutor is a GTA, and I think he really knows and understands my interest in and desire to learn more about Japanese culture. Would that be acceptable, or would it be "unprofessional" to have someone who's just a teaching assistant write one?
If you have some free time, you may want to do some relevant activities that could give you a little more insight into the job, such as working with international students, studying Japanese, studying for a TEFL certificate, assisting with a kid's club or classroom, etc... Those things can give you a bit of a taste of what JET might be like, and it can give you some practical experience for preparing for the interview and for JET itself.
In terms of competitiveness, there's no question that JET is a very competitive program. In the US, we have thousands of people apply for hundreds of spots. The majority of JET applicants will be unsuccessful. And yes, it is true that we definitely do value teaching experience and Japanese speaking abilities. However, don't let that discourage you. The application is both broad and specific enough that you have the opportunity to list all sorts of experiences that touch on teaching, working with children, international experience/exposure, etc... It's not only teaching or studying Japanese that can give you relevant experience that you can use. Tutoring, babysitting, volunteer work, studying language other than Japanese, and traveling can all be beneficial and helpful to an application.
Keep in mind that we definitely do have the applicants who seem to have all of the things that seem "perfect" for JET - Japanese language proficiency, traveling experience, teaching degrees, etc... For a variety of reasons, they may or may not be selected to be JETs. At the same time, we have candidates who may have never been to Japan (or even outside of their home countries) without language or teaching experience thay may still offer interesting experience and enthusiasm that could lead to an acceptance. Also, here's a bit of insight: most potential applicants I talk to are afraid they're not "good enough" to be considered for JET. It's normal, but the truth is that we have a lot of really great JETs from a variety of backgrounds and various majors. The only people who are absolutely certain to never be accepted are the ones who don't apply.
And finally, for your LoR question, if you are still a student and will not be graduating from your university until after our deadline, then one of your letters must be from a professor or advisor at your university who can confirm you are an enrolled student and will be graduating by our July 1 deadline (for the US only). While your second letter can be from almost anyone else (professor, boss, teaching assistant, high school teacher, etc...), I would recommend having the first one at least be from a professor and that it be on official university stationery.