I made a promise to myself that in the weeks leading up to leaving for Japan, to partake in the JET Programme, I would keep a blog that detailed my experiences. After all, as a part of my statement of purpose, I had indicated that one of my desires was to create a travel blog that would chronicle my experiences, and hopefully inspire others to apply for the Programme, or even independently travel to the land of the golden sun. This week, I am going to write about the application process, and timeline it, so that you have a general idea of what to expect, should you wish to apply for the JET Programme.
I must preface, that the Programme is an extremely competitive, and very time consuming process, disabling you from applying for other opportunities, sans completing your degree. In my time since graduation, whilst waiting to hear about JET, I have had to opt out of applying for two roles that I really would have enjoyed, as I had the gut feeling that I had gotten into the Programme. Had I been wrong, that would have been extremely heart wrenching. So, make sure you are prepared for any outcome, and don’t bank everything on the JET Programme.
The Application Process
To begin with, below I have linked to the official JET website, which gives some information on the process. Following, I shall go into a little more detail, and talk about my experiences.
The application process for the JET Programme is a long and arduous one. The Programme opens for applications in early October and closes in late November, so you have two months to get all of your application together. It may seem like almost two months is enough time, but trust me, it isn’t if you have other commitments happening at the same time. Personally, I was in my final semester of university, doing two subjects that I felt I was way out of my depth for, as well as an internship and volunteering for a theatre company. Yes, I am a sucker for punishment, and if you’re curious, despite my high work load I still managed two Distinctions for my subjects. To submit an application you are required to fill in an 8 page application form, write a statement of purpose outlining your intent for the Programme, and provide two written references that can relate your skills to the Programme. You also need to provide a pre-medical assessment, which is basically a medical history. You also need to have a degree of at least Bachelor level. If you do not have this, then you can not apply (however, if you are due to graduate with a Bachelor degree prior to the leave date for the Programme, then you are eligible).
I had known I was going to apply for the Programme early, so I approached the convener of my entire degree for a reference, early (as she had been my lecturer for a couple of my courses, and tutored one of them). I knew she was leaving my university to go and teach at a university in America, so I asked her for a reference before she left in July. I outlined and stressed that the reference needed to align to the principals of the Programme, and as a result I received a reference that I could call nothing less than my Golden Ticket. I may post the reference up at some point, if anyone is interested in seeing it. The other reference I got from the CEO of the organisation I was interning for. I also stressed the importance of aligning it to the Programme’s values, and ended up with a second really good reference. My issue, however, was that the reference contains two parts (a written reference, and a competency sheet). The written reference can be done whenever (though I recommend having it as recent as possible), however the competency sheet must be from that year’s application pack. So, after my university reference moved to America, I had to ask her in October, to fill in the competency sheet and send it back to me by mail (as electronic isn’t acceptable). I almost thought that it wasn’t going to get to me in time, but luckily it did.
I wrote my statement of purpose around all my other commitments such as my assignments, coursework, internship and volunteering. Again, if anyone is interested, I will post this up too. Mine focussed on what I would provide to the Programme, what I hoped to get out of it, and how I would foster international relations, which I believe is important to highlight. As I am a Drama and Writing Major (Bachelor of Creative Arts), I angled my application around how Drama could enrich the students’ learning experience. I also mentioned my interest in East Asian dramatic arts, which I would use to increase my own professional development (My career aspiration is to work within the Arts). I sent my application off about a week out from the deadline in November, and was surprised when just a few days before Christmas, I received notification by mail that I was shortlisted for an interview.
I received my interview notification in January via email, and was scheduled for February 13th (in the Brisbane consulate). I found out on the 30th March that I was successfully shortlisted for the Programme. I will outline my interview in another post (I need to spread my posts out somehow!) From being shortlisted after the interview, you are required to send in your acceptance via mail, as well as get a Police Check, full Medical, and complete an Accident Insurance form. Once this information has all been submitted, you then wait to be contacted to be notified of where you have been placed (which is generally in May). For the record, my preferences were Tokyo City, Kyoto City and Hiroshima City, so we’ll see what happens there.
The last part of the process is pre-departure orientation, and then leaving. I currently have 15 weeks left until I leave, and have decided that I am not coming back to Brisbane to live at the end of my contract. I am not 100% certain at this point on what I shall do, or where I shall go, but I do have some ideas in my head. This means that I now have to sell/get rid off 10 years worth of accumulated “stuff” since moving to Brisbane in 2004. Big job!
Anyway, I hope this helps anyone who is looking to apply for the Programme. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments. To my fellow JET shortlisters, congratulations and good luck with your placements!