Last week I went over a few of the items that needed to be submitted in order to be considered as a candidate for the JET Programme, one of which was a Statement of Purpose (SoP).
This week, I am going to outline the Statement of Purpose, what makes a good SoP, and show you mine, that helped to get me successfully shortlisted.
According to an unofficial JET website, JET Programme.com, the Statement of Purpose is “…the part of the application which likely plays a huge part in any success.” A strong SoP, along with excellent Letters of Recommendation can be one of the determining factors between whether you are shortlisted, made an alternate, or are declined a position in the Programme. I know of people who had exceptional SoPs, and did horribly in the interview, yet still got successfully shortlisted. The SoP should be designed as a document to sell yourself to Japan. The three main points to consider when writing your SoP are:
It is important to note that when it comes to defining why Japan would be a good fit for you, to relate it to things that you are interested in exploring further. For instance, I like anime, and video games, but I didn’t mention any of that in my SoP, or in any of the interview process at all, because I didn’t feel like it was a relevant contribution to the Programme. However, I am very interested in using my Drama background to enhance classroom learning, and also in exploring East Asian Theatre, and how Japan adapts Western Theatre. Here, I show not only an interest in learning about a cultural aspect of Japan, but also how I can contribute from my own culture.
The SoP should not exceed two pages, so you need to make sure that every sentence – every word – counts, and has relevance toward the picture you are trying to paint of yourself. The whole application process should be approached as though you are applying for a job — because, that is what you are doing. Whilst it’s nice to think of all the awesome activities you will be able to undertake in Japan, it’s important to remember that the primary purpose of the exchange is to partake in the enhancement of the English language within Japanese schools.
My SoP, which got me to interview stage, and successfully shortlisted for the Programme is below:
From my most recent trip to Japan, three years ago, it has been my intent to apply for the JET Programme (JET) upon my graduation. I am passionate about unlocking the potential in people, and I believe that I can achieve this through enhancing Japanese students’ understanding of Australian culture. I understand that there can be difficulties in motivating a student to learn another language, however, I feel that overcoming a student’s objection to learning can be an enriching experience. My goal is to stimulate classroom learning using games that inspire confidence that I have learned through my Drama Major, to enrich student interest toward the English language within Japanese schools.
I have always been interested in Japan, from a young age, and that interest was enhanced from spending time in the country for holidays. Knowing that I would be applying for the 2015 intake, I approached one of my references back in July this year for a reference prior to her transferring from the University of Queensland, to Stanford University. I am flexible, and adaptable, and believe I can handle living in Japan. Whilst I have been to Japan on a number of occasions, I believe I still have more to learn and will gain the most benefit from residing in the country. I have a basic understanding of the Japanese language, which I wish to enhance whilst on JET. I believe through immersing myself in the culture, I will gain a better understanding of Japan, the language, and its people.
I have experience teaching others, from working as a Quality Service Support Officer for News Corp Australia. The role entailed not only acting as a mentor for sales staff, to increase their sales capacity, but also in monitoring print advertisements for grammar, syntax and spelling, prior to print. Due to this, I believe I would be a great candidate for JET, as I can take my experience with English and apply it to the classroom, assisting the classroom teacher. I always like to keep myself busy, and have volunteered on a number of theatre or arts related projects this year. I interned for the Brisbane Writers Festival in June, and am currently volunteering with La Boite Theatre Company. In both roles I have exhibited my leadership ability and initiative in leading the other volunteers. My innate ability to network would be invaluable to JET, which will allow me to find opportunities to assist the community to better understand and appreciate the English language, and the Australian culture.
By participating in JET, I will empower myself to work within a different cultural structure, permitting me to gain invaluable life skills. I also wish to utilise the opportunity to start a travel blog, outlining my experiences in Japan. Through this, I hope to foster a greater relationship between Japan and native English speaking countries, imbuing the desire to travel within others. While in Japan I also wish to explore Japanese theatre, so that I may gain a better understanding of how theatre affects the Japanese community. I would devote time to joining the local school drama club, to assist with school productions, and enhance student participation rate within the club, and in the classroom. I believe my experience within JET will further enhance my leadership skills.
I am confident that through my participation with the JET Programme, a beneficial relationship would be established between Australia and Japan that would carry itself throughout the time I spent in Japan teaching, and beyond.
By no means am I an expert on the whole process, as I am yet to even set foot in Japan under my contract. But, if this blog can help aspiring candidates in any way, then I believe it will have fulfilled its purpose.
If you have any questions, or if you have had a different experience, I would be interested in hearing about it. Please leave me a message in the comments, below.