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imightbetheone
November 20th, 2013, 11:04
I feel like I'm bending over backwards for the opportunity to wait 8+ months to start an entry-level job.

The pay is a little bit better than other, similar jobs.

They sponsor your visa and pay for transportation.

Maybe it looks better on a resume.

Am I missing something, or has JET simply done a kick-ass job of marketing their program to make it seem like it's head and shoulders above the rest? Are you applying to other positions in Japan as you wait to hear on JET?

MinisterDM
November 20th, 2013, 11:28
An entry level job in a foreign country where you have a stable income and a high (comparably) standard of living. A chance to practice your writing, intercultural, and interview skills with the possibility to get paid for said practice. Oh, and you get to go to Japan!

Yeah, the work is tough, but welcome to the big boy world. I don't know, the 8+ month wait almost makes it worth it to me. I mean, its really just a 2 month wait minimum actually (if your not selected to go to interview). So, it feels worth it.

therealwindycity
November 20th, 2013, 11:41
An entry level job in a foreign country where you have a stable income and a high (comparably) standard of living. A chance to practice your writing, intercultural, and interview skills with the possibility to get paid for said practice. Oh, and you get to go to Japan!

Yeah, the work is tough, but welcome to the big boy world. I don't know, the 8+ month wait almost makes it worth it to me. I mean, its really just a 2 month wait minimum actually (if your not selected to go to interview). So, it feels worth it.

It's definitely asking a legitimate question to ask though. JET used to be much better than a lot of the ALT jobs you can get from overseas (direct hire jobs are a different matter, but oftentimes you can't get them unless you're already in Japan on a work visa), but with the pay decrease and the loss of a lot of vacation days, controlling BOEs, etc. it's not as clear-cut as JET would make it out to be. You have all the perks that come with being a government employee, but you don't have much say in where you live and you could end up with a terrible BOE in an expensive placement.

In all honesty, if you aren't necessarily interested in becoming a teacher and you have a skill set that can get you another working visa at a job in Japan with similar pay that's more in line with your career goals, I wouldn't advise JET to you.

For your consideration: Australian JETs will make about minimum wage in 2013. (http://www.ithinkimlost.com/applying-archives/18668-australian-jets-will-make-about-minimum-wage-2013-a.html)

Antonath
November 20th, 2013, 12:52
As windy said, this is a much harder question than it used to be. The salary cut a couple of years ago has made JET more competitive in Japan, but has also made it a little less attractive than it used to be.

JETs tend to be placed more in the country, where companies like Interac rule the cities.

Company ALTs often don't have to work during the summer, but don't get paid for it either.

JETs get their flights to and from the country paid for.

JETs are civil servants and are thus difficult to get rid of before the end of their contract. Company ALTs can be fired whenever, and the company just hires another foreigner to take their place. That also tends to mean that companies are happy to scrape the bottom of the barrel, where JETs are a little more highly regarded.

Ini
November 20th, 2013, 13:23
It depends what you want.

JET is probably still held in higher regard and you'll get more respect as a government worker. There's less chance of getting screwed over in the long run and it'll look better on your CV if you want to stay on in Japan afterwards.
Being a government worker and living in the countryside normally means you get a better "experience" of Japanese life and will probably be more involved with the community.

Private companies expect less of you, shorter working hours and you can get placements in areas with more than 2 people and a goat in them. If you are only coming for a year or two and want to travel the country, bang some yellow poon and get your drink on then its a better option.

machius
November 20th, 2013, 14:06
Than other opportunities in general? Probably not, if you have relevant qualifications and skills and can get a job in your field of choice in your own country or internationally it's probably a much better opportunity than JET. People go into JET for the experience of living in Japan as much as for the job (which is designed to be temporary) itself.

Than other ALT/TESOL opportunities in Japan? Yes. I've done the Eikaiwa thing myself and I have friends currently doing the main different ALT options (interac etc.) and they aren't on the same level as JET. Pay can often be comparable or even in a few cases better (especially since the lowering of JET wages) and certainly a lot of the other jobs have a greater amount of freedom/free time BUT there are three important things that JET has going for it (4 if you include the flight).

1. The value of the name, inside and outside of Japan the job of a JET has much more prestige going for it than any of the other random jobs, sure at the end of the day you might still end up doing the same thing and being a glorified CD player but the fact that it's an official government program, that it has stated goals of helping to spread international culture and partnership and so on look and sound much better to any post teaching in Japan employer looking at your resume.

2. Job security and protection of contractual rights, as part of the official government program and a direct employee of your BoE you have much greater protection against losing your job (in my area you'd pretty much have to go and do something illegal and lose your visa before they would consider firing you) and with a set contract and multiple avenues of recourse for complaints it is also very possible to fight against things going above and beyond your intended role. Now i'm not personally recommending that people are hardcore about keeping to the letter of the contract since giving a little extra can often make a huge difference in the level you are accepted by other staff, but fighting against unreasonable requests or using things like Byoukyuu (sick leave) which we have as part of our contract (and which is something that Japanese teachers would almost never even consider taking) is not a problem.

3. The support networks, between fellow JETs in your BoE, the various AJET groups, the alumni groups, the support lines, CLAIR, online forums (both official and unofficial like this one) etc. etc. JET has a huge support network to help you deal with just about anything both before, during and after your time as a JET. This is something that none of the other options have going for them.

That's not to say that there isn't a heap of stuff problematic about JET (the gamble you take with placements for example) or that many of the positives can't equally become negatives, but it really is the better option for a short (1-5 year) term job in Japan.

Ini
November 20th, 2013, 15:02
The "support network" does foster a certain attitude in people. JETs tend to expect the world to revolve around them and are used to having the BOE wipe their arse for them. Private companies dont have the time or money to waste spoon feeding people so the ALTs tend to need more common sense. Chances are the majority of your friends will either work for the same company or be on JET with you so choose which group best suits you. If you are a pragmatic person JETs will annoy you, if you have never left your parents basement before you will probably starve to death with a private company.

Jiggit
November 20th, 2013, 15:17
What Ini is saying might sound like he's taking the piss but it's pretty accurate. A lot of JETs really do have the mentality of a university student rather than of someone doing a job, and JET positions definitely allow that kind of mentality to persist compared to private companies, from what I can tell.

mrcharisma
November 20th, 2013, 15:25
The above two posts sum it up quite well. if you get on JET, be prepared to find spoiled rich kids whining all over your social media pages on a regular basis, alongside people who are nowhere near as unique or quirky as they like to think they are.

This in turn can foster the development of a highly childish social scene amongst JETs, but each prefecture is different.

MinisterDM
November 20th, 2013, 16:27
Hmm, what y'all are saying is very interesting. Are JETs really that immature?

coop52
November 20th, 2013, 17:44
It depends on the prefecture. Hopefully there's at least a few people in your area that aren't complete babies.

The flip side of that is that a number of BOEs treat their JETs like children, with things like not letting them drive, making them all sign up for the same internet/phone company, making them ask permission to leave the prefecture and so on. Private companies don't care as long as you don't commit any kind of major crime. The handholding can be nice if you don't speak Japanese, but if you want to do things for yourself, then JET can be a little stifling.

zombiekelly
November 20th, 2013, 18:55
Yes and no.

Yes in that you get more pay (at least compared to me), the rent is easier on the wallet, better holiday structure.

No in that you're not the BOE's bitch, you can get a second job if you want it, and the placements tend to be closer to an actual city instead of a village.

uthinkimlost?
November 20th, 2013, 19:19
If you are a pragmatic person JETs will annoy you.

This.

MinisterDM
November 20th, 2013, 19:37
It depends on the prefecture. Hopefully there's at least a few people in your area that aren't complete babies.

The flip side of that is that a number of BOEs treat their JETs like children, with things like not letting them drive, making them all sign up for the same internet/phone company, making them ask permission to leave the prefecture and so on. Private companies don't care as long as you don't commit any kind of major crime. The handholding can be nice if you don't speak Japanese, but if you want to do things for yourself, then JET can be a little stifling.

What?!?! Seriously?

Antonath
November 20th, 2013, 19:43
What?!?! Seriously?
It's very rare, but it has been known. It's usually related to having an idiot-ALT ten or fifteen years earlier, whose bad behaviour caused new rules for all future ALTs at that BoE. The no-driving rules, which are somewhat more common, are usually the same thing.

coop52
November 20th, 2013, 19:44
We had that rule very briefly after the 2011 earthquake, but no one followed it.

Gizmotech
November 20th, 2013, 19:58
What?!?! Seriously?


Yes, especially because they had contact with a super juvenile ALT At some point and therefore all ALTs are children.

johnny
November 20th, 2013, 20:23
I think my BOE wants to be informed when I leave the country, but I think they might want to know that for practical reasons. I expect they're only concerned about my ability to get back to work in case there are any problems. All in all, my BOE is absolutely great.

As for me, I'm 31, and I chose to go with JET because I didn't like my career prospects at home. I thought this was an opportunity to learn Japanese and finish some correspondence courses to finish my business degree. So far, it has been a great choice for me. I am meeting all my personal goals.

Gizmotech
November 20th, 2013, 20:34
I think my BOE wants to be informed when I leave the country, but I think they might want to know that for practical reasons. I expect they're only concerned about my ability to get back to work in case there are any problems. All in all, my BOE is absolutely great.

As for me, I'm 31, and I chose to go with JET because I didn't like my career prospects at home. I thought this was an opportunity to learn Japanese and finish some correspondence courses to finish my business degree. So far, it has been a great choice for me. I am meeting all my personal goals.

I'll be 31 shortly. It's been great so far, but I'll say that I rather hate being treated like I'm 15.

AVN
November 20th, 2013, 21:00
I came to Japan with an eikaiwa, worked for them for 2 years, went through their bankruptcy and then switched to JET. I have to say there is some truth in the idea that JETs can be a bit of a special group of people. Of course, not all JETs are as bad as stated above, but I noticed that there is a lot more special snowflaking, interdependence and whining about, even demanding things that are mindblowing amongst them as compared to those at eikaiwa. This is not to say that everyone at eikaiwa are amazing people, in fact a lot of them were douches, but they were a lot more independent out of necessity. There was also a lot less of a feeling that hanging out with one another was in any way mandatory or even expected.
I was shocked when I switched to Japan at how much hand holding goes on. I was also shocked at some of the things I saw people whining about on their facebooks. Saying their BOE sucked because it wouldn't do things like, raise their pay to compensate for the changing exchange rate, take care of exchanging something they bought in their private time, etc. etc.

Aurano
November 20th, 2013, 23:16
This is quite the interesting thread. A real wake up to reality for us aspiring JETs.

It sounds a lot like it comes down to what you are able and willing to cope with. I am quite a pragmatic person, but having never lived abroad alone I think I would appreciate some of the ass wiping to some extent.

Gizmotech
November 21st, 2013, 06:09
This is quite the interesting thread. A real wake up to reality for us aspiring JETs.

It sounds a lot like it comes down to what you are able and willing to cope with. I am quite a pragmatic person, but having never lived abroad alone I think I would appreciate some of the ass wiping to some extent.

Sure! don't get me wrong, the support network (and at the time the money.... sob), is why I chose the program over other options. For those first few months it was great. Then I wanted to be treated like an adult and shit just went down hill from there...

Aurano
November 21st, 2013, 06:31
Sure! don't get me wrong, the support network (and at the time the money.... sob), is why I chose the program over other options. For those first few months it was great. Then I wanted to be treated like an adult and shit just went down hill from there...

Yeah, I was actually thinking at the time I wrote that post that I would probably just get annoyed by it all after I adapted to the environment and the whole routine of things.

Still though, it's a great opportunity and I think there would be a few irritating aspects of any job at the end of the day.

AVN
November 21st, 2013, 07:53
Yeah, I was actually thinking at the time I wrote that post that I would probably just get annoyed by it all after I adapted to the environment and the whole routine of things.

Still though, it's a great opportunity and I think there would be a few irritating aspects of any job at the end of the day.

That's the key. There are pros and cons to all the opportunities available. It's about being well informed before committing. It makes it easier to bear if you know it might happen and that it's not just you.

PaddyPakku
November 21st, 2013, 09:18
Once again I have to agree with Aurano's original point.
I'm somewhat shocked that there are JETs out there with that type of temperament. I thought the whole point of the cumbersome application screening was to weed out people that behave like this. It is quite disappointing to see these posts.
I guess that means we should all stress our willingness to adapt and be flexible in our applications.

Antonath
November 21st, 2013, 09:52
I thought the whole point of the cumbersome application screening was to weed out people that behave like this. It is quite disappointing to see these posts.
The process does weed out the absolute worst, but with many JETs applying straight out of university it's hard to know how some will react to the very different situation of being an ALT. Most straight-from-uni JETs (and others, too) want and need their hands held when they arrive, which is one reason arriving at the beginning of the summer vacation is good: it gives schools and new ALTs a month or so to get everything sorted before they have to teach. Most will be fine after that, but a few never get past the hand-holding stage.

dialogue
November 21st, 2013, 09:54
My BOE is totally hands off and doesn't know what I am doing, ever. I make my own schedule, take care of ordering anything I need for schools, etc. My BOE doesn't help me with anything unless I specifically ask. I am also pretty isolated and, in winter, trapped by mountains. The nearest JET is about an hour away but I have no idea who it is. The closest person I know is about 90 minutes away and he complains a lot about his town but I just change the subject. No need to listen to whining if you don't want to.

JET is a good opportunity not just for career advancement but also personal growth. You'll learn a lot about yourself when living in complete isolation/facing tough situations and either be completely broken or adapt.

Jiggit
November 21st, 2013, 09:57
Once again I have to agree with Aurano's original point.
I'm somewhat shocked that there are JETs out there with that type of temperament. I thought the whole point of the cumbersome application screening was to weed out people that behave like this. It is quite disappointing to see these posts.
I guess that means we should all stress our willingness to adapt and be flexible in our applications.

Nah they aren't that bad. They're just kind of childish and needy. Most of them are still quite capable of doing their job, they're just mildly annoying to deal with and can complain about some quite ridiculous things.

The whole immaturity thing is just something that irritates me because I don't find much pleasure in hour long conversations about how "awesome" and "epic" Dr. Who is or how dumb Japan is for not being exactly like America in every way.

Edit: And as others have said they often don't treat you like an adult so they probably don't have a great need for people who actually are adult. It's one of the reasons why some people say that actual teachers can be at an advantage; they don't deal with some ALT positions all too well. ESID remember, you might end up in a school as someone with zero previous experience and be expected to do everything or you might end up at a school with a ton of teaching experience and not be allowed to do anything other than read from the textbook.

therealwindycity
November 21st, 2013, 10:20
Most straight-from-uni JETs (and others, too) want and need their hands held when they arrive

I don't know if I would say most ... There are certainly a significant number, but at least in my prefecture we have a good group of JETs who are generally pretty responsible and mature.

Page
November 21st, 2013, 11:19
tldr; OP it's worth it as an experience much more than it's worth it as a job (unless of course you are looking to do something related to japanese/japan/teaching/tefl/etc., in which case I think it has its worth on a resume). If you're at the point in life where you're worried about money and future prospects (and it doesn't have anything to do with your future goals) I don't think I'd say that it's worth giving/passing up a job back home.

Jiggit
November 21st, 2013, 11:48
I don't know if I would say most ... There are certainly a significant number, but at least in my prefecture we have a good group of JETs who are generally pretty responsible and mature.

Some people just have higher standards I suppose.

therealwindycity
November 21st, 2013, 12:20
Some people just have higher standards I suppose.

Or some people are just nicer and more forgiving than others.

Jiggit
November 21st, 2013, 12:28
Or some people are just nicer and more forgiving than others.

I never said I wasn't nice to people, they just have really boring conversations and I have no interest in seeking out their tedious company.

Perhaps I'm just an autist but every time I attempt to hang out with other ALTs I spend the whole time wondering what on earth possessed me to.

mrcharisma
November 21st, 2013, 12:45
Excessive, competitive wackiness seems to be a desirable trait on JET, especially when they congregate in large numbers. Get more than 4 or 5 ALts together in a family restaurant and the event turns into a travelling circus. Take them to a nightclub and you're in for an experience closer to a school disco than any kind of night out you'd have in the UK past the age of 17.

Things improve tenfold when JETs are in smaller groups I find.

Jiggit
November 21st, 2013, 12:56
It's that desire to reinvent yourself tha most people get out of their systems in college which gives it such a collegey feel. And yeah in small groups it's way more tolerable. That fake wackiness is just unbearable.

mrcharisma
November 21st, 2013, 13:07
That fake wackiness is just unbearable.

Once you've seen a group of people in their mid/late 20s do The Conga round a fleapit Osaka nightclub, it can't be unseen.

Jiggit
November 21st, 2013, 13:20
Aaaaaagh.

Give me fishing with retired Japanese alcoholics any day.

uthinkimlost?
November 21st, 2013, 14:14
I think most jets either fall into childlike or parental roles. There are always a few mother hens corralling the derps and cleaning up their messes. Honestly, I think both parties love the relationship.

Gizmotech
November 21st, 2013, 14:21
I think most jets either fall into childlike or parental roles. There are always a few mother hens corralling the derps and cleaning up their messes. Honestly, I think both parties love the relationship.

Except those who fall into those roles through jet seniority and age seniority. I've had to do it several times since the new jets cam this august and I'll tell ya, I hate feeling in any way responsible for the behavior of other jets in public.

Antonath
November 21st, 2013, 14:29
Before this degrades into a Lounge-style bitching thread, I will say for the benefit of the applicants reading this that as with any social group, the more extreme personalities stand out. Most JETs are quite normal people.

Jiggit
November 21st, 2013, 15:17
Most JETs are quite normal people.

Oh god you're one of them.

MinisterDM
November 21st, 2013, 16:01
I figured the extremes stand out, just surprised to see what kind of extremes we are talking about here. This definitely shows my lack of life experience but I figured people would be a bit more mature once they got out of college.

Back on topic: The answer I see most repeated is that JET is better in some respects and worse in others. If you could pick your top reason its better and top reason its worse, what would they be?

Jiggit
November 21st, 2013, 16:07
Better: More official position
Worse: Fewer city placements

To be honest JET is pretty much "better" than most other options, it's just that it isn't so much better that you should put your life on hold for it. If I hadn't applied for JET straight out of college and gotten in I would have probably applied to work in Japan through some other company before waiting for JET to come round again. If that option is available to you, that is.

word
November 21st, 2013, 17:22
Better: Comprehensive support structure, generally far superior to any other similar program
Worse: Essentially, a relatively low-paying, often mind-numbingly low-skill job in the middle of nowhere, Japan

I still recommend it unless, as Page said, you've got something better lined up. If that's the case, you'd probably better go with your other option.

Idril
November 21st, 2013, 20:14
My BOE is loaded and they don't help me with anything. Rent here aint cheap aye. The only thing I got help with was changing the name on the apartment lease and utilities, and setting up a bank account. My predecessor was raging that none of my supers bothered to come and greet me when I arrived in the town. In saying that, I think my BOE treats me fairly and I like that they let me operate independently.

Everyone in my area seems to be able to function normally (with 1 MAJOR exception), but my friend in the prefecture over believes everyone there are headcases. In particular there seems to be a 2nd timer who is throwing out all sorts of demands to his BOE. Apparently he marched straight into the principals office and flat-out demanded things change.

Jedirust
November 21st, 2013, 22:29
If the worst thing to deal with is the lack of maturity of other JETs... then, I think I'll be fine. Just like in college, some people can handle the independence and some people fail out. Some people will try to create new personalities for themselves for the attention, especially in a foreign country. I guess there are just more weird JET applicants as they use it as an excuse to foster their otaku-ness.


Generally speaking of the pros and cons of any job:
Like all jobs, if you live within the means, then the pay will be enough to live.
Your bosses and co-workers may not always be 100% compatible with your views, but you're stuck with them, so you need the flexibility to work with them.
Making demands for the sake of getting your way is irresponsible and reflects poorly for all future JETS in your prefecture.
You get to live in another country, get paid, and meet new people. Sure beats paying for University study abroad.

Aurano
November 21st, 2013, 23:19
Once you've seen a group of people in their mid/late 20s do The Conga round a fleapit Osaka nightclub, it can't be unseen.

This cracked me up!! I'm only 29 but I feel my Conga days are long gone. And being 6'3ft I don't think I would be any good either! :lol:

Jedirust
November 21st, 2013, 23:51
Glad to see there are a lot of older JET applicants here. I thought I was over the hill at 29, but I see a few in the late 20s and 30s.

Shincantsen
November 21st, 2013, 23:52
Some of my thoughts on this discussion -

1) Keep in mind that this forum is not a representative cross-section of the JET Program. They'll try to tell you otherwise here, but many JETs are living happy, busy lives in Japan and they don't have the time or the inclination to hang around a forum all day. I've found that a lot of people here are those who are in very isolated placements or who don't get along with the people living near them, so socializing is done here instead. I'm not judging it, just saying that the opinions expressed here are not necessarily the majority.

2) The pay on JET is actually better than it looks. At least if you're from the US, you are living tax free in Japan. That means you're getting an extra, I dunno, $400-700 a month more than someone would who's making the "same" salary in the US. Even with the pay cut (which is really pretty small) it's good money, especially for an entry-level position. I'm amazed at the lifestyle I was able to live and the money I was able to save while on JET, as opposed to my "real" job now.

3) I've seen some people mention that part of the appeal of JET is its name, and using it to impress future employers - let's be real here, if you're not going into a Japan or international education-related field, your employers probably will not have heard of JET. Basically nobody's heard of it, so don't rely on the JET name to get you a job. The JET alumni network, on the other hand, is a great way to network and get an 'in' to various careers.

4) There are some real weirdos and losers on JET. Antisocial dudes who make you feel uncomfortable by talking about Japanese girls all the time, doughy white girls who are 'so random!!!' and won't shut up, douchebags who don't care about teaching and are giving JET a bad name - these people are the most memorable and they stand out the most, for sure. But the majority of JETs aren't like this. They are normal people with little quirks, because you've got to be at least a little weird to give up your life and live in Japan for a few years.

Aurano
November 22nd, 2013, 00:09
Good points there. Especially point 1. After looking at the statistics the other week on how many JETs from each country go over each year, it makes this forum seem like a very, VERY small minority. Still though, it's nice to hear peoples views and experiences. I guess at the end of the day, it's what YOU make of it.

Jedirust
November 22nd, 2013, 00:29
True.. If I want to read about weirdo comments and thoughts, I go to gaijinpot forums. It's always amusing.

Ini
November 22nd, 2013, 08:28
Avoid AJET, your PA, NAJET, the support hotline and anywhere else where CV padding little hitlers congregate like the plague. The best thing you can do on JET is treat it like a job and rather than joining some creepy nationwide cult.

word
November 22nd, 2013, 09:18
Some of my thoughts on this discussion -

1) Keep in mind that this forum is not a representative cross-section of the JET Program. They'll try to tell you otherwise here, but many JETs are living happy, busy lives in Japan and they don't have the time or the inclination to hang around a forum all day. I've found that a lot of people here are those who are in very isolated placements or who don't get along with the people living near them, so socializing is done here instead. I'm not judging it, just saying that the opinions expressed here are not necessarily the majority.

You seem to be implying that a lot of people on this forum are somehow "unhappy" or something, or don't enjoy socialization. I'll be the first to admit that we've got a few members who fit that description, but for the most part, I'd say we're a pretty happy bunch--most of us have been here for quite some time, after all. I, myself, generally love my life here (note my recommendation above). I'm not the most social animal, but MG and I regularly spend a great deal of time with other ALTs and Japanese folks (omg especially because snowboarding omg I can't wait). We're hosting a rather large party in December (kinda outta control at this point; I dunno how we're gonna fit so many people in our house).

My apologies if I sound defensive... it's because I am. Official has managed to cultivate this image of ITIL as some sort of troll den, filled with negativity and misery, and has done a good job by keeping any jaded realists off of their forum. The truth is that sometimes people NEED to hear the negative end of something--especially when preparing to apply. One of the reasons I think my application was successful (all just a guess, of course) was because I specifically addressed the fact that I had learned a great deal about the program--and not all just good things. I made it clear in my app and my interview that I had read the frustrations, the rants, and the horror stories offered by some JETs... and that I still wanted to take the plunge. I think (again, just my guess) that a candidate who makes it a point to learn the good, the bad, and the ugly of the JET program is a far more appealing candidate than some lunatic with dreams of what Japan is gonna be.

Sorry; kinda goin' off on a tangent. In any case--ITIL fulfills an important role, and I think one should be careful before assuming that the comments here are negative or antisocial. Sometimes, we're just keeping it real, keeping people grounded in reality, and keeping people from developing some sort of delusions...


2) The pay on JET is actually better than it looks. At least if you're from the US, you are living tax free in Japan. That means you're getting an extra, I dunno, $400-700 a month more than someone would who's making the "same" salary in the US. Even with the pay cut (which is really pretty small) it's good money, especially for an entry-level position. I'm amazed at the lifestyle I was able to live and the money I was able to save while on JET, as opposed to my "real" job now. That probably all depends. I almost certainly could have made significantly more money if I had stayed in the 'States. Yes, we live "tax-free"... from US taxes, anyway. We pay taxes here, though, and Japan is not exactly a cheap country. If you own a car, for example...

Also, it's not only the pay cut that you need to keep in mind, it's the exchange rate. The value of the yen has fallen quite a bit in comparison to its highs of a few years ago. It's not bad... but it's noticeable.


3) I've seen some people mention that part of the appeal of JET is its name, and using it to impress future employers - let's be real here, if you're not going into a Japan or international education-related field, your employers probably will not have heard of JET. Basically nobody's heard of it, so don't rely on the JET name to get you a job. The JET alumni network, on the other hand, is a great way to network and get an 'in' to various careers. word; can't argue with this...

I will say, though, that a lot of people (generally people who don't know any better) are really impressed when you say you've lived in Japan for X years.


4) There are some real weirdos and losers on JET. Antisocial dudes who make you feel uncomfortable by talking about Japanese girls all the time, doughy white girls who are 'so random!!!' and won't shut up, douchebags who don't care about teaching and are giving JET a bad name - these people are the most memorable and they stand out the most, for sure. But the majority of JETs aren't like this. They are normal people with little quirks, because you've got to be at least a little weird to give up your life and live in Japan for a few years.Yeah, I will agree with this, and I think that this is really what most people are saying here. The really awkward wankers stand out; they're memorable. It's exactly like your students; in a random group of 100, you'll remember the five who were totally awesome and enriched your life immeasurably, you'll remember the five who were obnoxious little sh*ts upon whom you wished incurable jock itch, and you'll only vaguely remember the ninety other students who were generally all right. That's just the way we work.

I think right now we remember a lot of the wankers because a lot of us are going to our MYCs or SDCs and are running into a lot of the weirdos that we'd forgotten about. It's easy to do; I generally don't hang out with people I don't like.

word
November 22nd, 2013, 09:19
Avoid AJET, your PA, NAJET, the support hotline and anywhere else where CV padding little hitlers congregate like the plague. The best thing you can do on JET is treat it like a job and rather than joining some creepy nationwide cult.

God, WORD. This.

Aurano
November 22nd, 2013, 09:57
This thread should received some kind of gold star. It really is a treasure trove into some interesting things. Interesting, and at times, amusing! :D

Jiggit
November 22nd, 2013, 10:05
JETs aren't that bad I'm just an asshole.

Page
November 22nd, 2013, 10:29
1) Keep in mind that this forum is not a representative cross-section of the JET Program. They'll try to tell you otherwise here, but many JETs are living happy, busy lives in Japan and they don't have the time or the inclination to hang around a forum all day. I've found that a lot of people here are those who are in very isolated placements or who don't get along with the people living near them, so socializing is done here instead. I'm not judging it, just saying that the opinions expressed here are not necessarily the majority.

I would agree that this has been an issue in the past (maybe when you were on your previous handle) but aside from a few members whom like to rile people up (which can be found on any internet forum, including official) or use ITIL to get rid of their negativity, most of the core members of this website know each other IRL in some respect and are pretty normal. It's just like visiting any kind of advice forum, your mileage will vary because everyone has a different background and experience.


3) I've seen some people mention that part of the appeal of JET is its name, and using it to impress future employers - let's be real here, if you're not going into a Japan or international education-related field, your employers probably will not have heard of JET. Basically nobody's heard of it, so don't rely on the JET name to get you a job. The JET alumni network, on the other hand, is a great way to network and get an 'in' to various careers.

The JET name isn't famous at all (and I believe most people agree/know this) but I think the point people are trying to get at in "using it to impress future employers" is that the job and title itself (government employee) looks good on a resume. I can't speak for others but my assumption has been that our official title (rather than the JET name) is what most people are referring too when they talk about resume building.

Gizmotech
November 22nd, 2013, 10:57
Some of my thoughts on this discussion -
HAZA! Something worth replying to. AWESOMESAUCE!




1) Keep in mind that this forum is not a representative cross-section of the JET Program. They'll try to tell you otherwise here, but many JETs are living happy, busy lives in Japan and they don't have the time or the inclination to hang around a forum all day. I've found that a lot of people here are those who are in very isolated placements or who don't get along with the people living near them, so socializing is done here instead. I'm not judging it, just saying that the opinions expressed here are not necessarily the majority.


I don't disagree with this. We don't represent a cross-section of the JET Program. What we do provide is observational input from a wide variety of areas within Japan, providing insight into various elements of the JET program, which you otherwise cannot get. I don't think we are doing this because we have no one else living with us though, I have 5 other JETs in my city alone, 20 within a 1 hour drive (many of whom I enjoy having a conversation with occasionally), and I am capable of speaking Japanese at a level sufficient to have an enjoyable conversation which extends beyond chopsticks and how long my tool is and therefore socialize more with my local community than I do with other JETs. I think we enjoy talking on here because it allows a more pragmatic view of Japan, which can be difficult to discuss with other ALTs who are still stuck in super happy go lucky mode (That mode is very capable of dismissing any realistic/rational/view different from theirs)




2) The pay on JET is actually better than it looks. At least if you're from the US, you are living tax free in Japan. That means you're getting an extra, I dunno, $400-700 a month more than someone would who's making the "same" salary in the US. Even with the pay cut (which is really pretty small) it's good money, especially for an entry-level position. I'm amazed at the lifestyle I was able to live and the money I was able to save while on JET, as opposed to my "real" job now.


I'll chime in with word and say I could've been making more in Canada (and I was in almost every job I had before this). That's not to dismiss the JET income, just to say if you have a qualification which extends beyond "I graduated from art history or Asian studies", you can probably get a better paying job back home, within at least a year or two of starting work.



3) I've seen some people mention that part of the appeal of JET is its name, and using it to impress future employers - let's be real here, if you're not going into a Japan or international education-related field, your employers probably will not have heard of JET. Basically nobody's heard of it, so don't rely on the JET name to get you a job. The JET alumni network, on the other hand, is a great way to network and get an 'in' to various careers.


You're absolutely right. Few people know about the JET program outside of certain fields. That being said, it's REALLY EASY to spin the JET program into something way more than it actually is because noone knows what it is. Like word said, just the "I lived in that bass ackwards country for 3 years" is enough for some employers to go "woow... now that shows adaptability and perseverance"



4) There are some real weirdos and losers on JET. Antisocial dudes who make you feel uncomfortable by talking about Japanese girls all the time, doughy white girls who are 'so random!!!' and won't shut up, douchebags who don't care about teaching and are giving JET a bad name - these people are the most memorable and they stand out the most, for sure. But the majority of JETs aren't like this. They are normal people with little quirks, because you've got to be at least a little weird to give up your life and live in Japan for a few years.


I'll just add to this that, the less trivial you are as a person the harder it can be to work within the JET program. It's not the oddities and losers, they can often be rather interesting at times (though I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to hang out with em), it's the group think mentality. It can really remind me of high school, where if you aren't "cool" and aren't doing what everyone else is doing, you become a social pariah pretty quickly. JET fosters some really strange social group constructions, and many of those seems like survival strategies. IE find the other most childlike person you know, create group. Invite more people to group, forcing slightly less childish people to act like children. Further removed from that people are left going "well you guys are a bunch of f*ckwits, and I'd rather not be associated to your drunken antics"

PS: Ini, as always you are awesome and completely f'n right. Avoid any of the resume padding asshats, like those "student council" morons from back in uni.

Shincantsen
November 23rd, 2013, 07:58
You seem to be implying that a lot of people on this forum are somehow "unhappy" or something, or don't enjoy socialization...The truth is that sometimes people NEED to hear the negative end of something--especially when preparing to apply...ITIL fulfills an important role, and I think one should be careful before assuming that the comments here are negative or antisocial. Sometimes, we're just keeping it real, keeping people grounded in reality, and keeping people from developing some sort of delusions...



I would agree that this has been an issue in the past (maybe when you were on your previous handle) but aside from a few members whom like to rile people up (which can be found on any internet forum, including official) or use ITIL to get rid of their negativity, most of the core members of this website know each other IRL in some respect and are pretty normal.



I don't disagree with this. We don't represent a cross-section of the JET Program. What we do provide is observational input from a wide variety of areas within Japan, providing insight into various elements of the JET program, which you otherwise cannot get

I think I did a poor job of expressing myself and unintentionally insulted the forum. Page is right, I haven't been here in a while, and I haven't delved too far into things, but it does seem to be a kinder, gentler ITIL than the thunderdomes of yesteryear. I mean, Ini's in applying giving out good advice, for god's sake.

My experience with this forum was that I was on it while applying and while preparing to go to Japan, and it helped me with my application an helped with expectations of Japan. Once I actually got to Japan, I found that I went on the forum less and less. So it was just my own experience I was drawing from.

Anyway, I think ITIL is really important to have, since so many incoming JETs are weirdly and disgustingly idealistic and the official forums (used to) just bolster that attitude. ITIL has always been more realistic, it's just that sometimes I found it to be pretty pessimistic overall and I think it can give off the idea sometimes that JET is a slog and no one really enjoys it.

In conclusion, comments redacted, I'm bowing at you all from my desk right now over and over again and will continue into the night.

Aurano
November 23rd, 2013, 09:40
I'll just add to this that, the less trivial you are as a person the harder it can be to work within the JET program. It's not the oddities and losers, they can often be rather interesting at times (though I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to hang out with em), it's the group think mentality. It can really remind me of high school, where if you aren't "cool" and aren't doing what everyone else is doing, you become a social pariah pretty quickly. JET fosters some really strange social group constructions, and many of those seems like survival strategies. IE find the other most childlike person you know, create group. Invite more people to group, forcing slightly less childish people to act like children. Further removed from that people are left going "well you guys are a bunch of f*ckwits, and I'd rather not be associated to your drunken antics"

This is quite interesting. Having gone into university as a mature student I witnessed a lot of this high school 'cool groups' mentality, and I think you're bang on the money by calling it a type of survival strategy. When people with less life experience enter a new environment alone they tend to find the most like minded people they can and cling to them as means of getting by. I actually kept to myself a lot at uni and mostly got on with the other mature students from different courses I met through a weekly gathering of Japanese exchange students and others interested. (I use the word 'mature' lightly by the way, I'm not that old) :D

I'm a reasonably sociable and friendly person but if I was to get on the JET Programme I would certainly be putting the job and living before any drunken partying that involves doing the Limbo.

johnny
November 24th, 2013, 01:36
Avoid AJET, your PA, NAJET, the support hotline and anywhere else where CV padding little hitlers congregate like the plague. The best thing you can do on JET is treat it like a job and rather than joining some creepy nationwide cult.

Garbage. Just because you treat JET like a job, it doesn't mean that you need to treat people who want to get involved like pariahs.

Also, for the record, my PA is super nice and conducts herself very professionally and helps create meetings that most of the JETs really enjoy.

Our AJET coordinators are really nice people and create nice, low-key events that really bring interested people together.

Ini
November 24th, 2013, 07:57
Organises meetings? Good for her, I bet she's really good at using excel as well... In these meetings does she draw on her years of experience teach you how to be a better educator? I'm willing to bet no because she'll just be another FOB JET. The blind leading the blind.......

Antonath
November 24th, 2013, 08:15
In these meetings does she draw on her years of experience teach you how to be a better educator? I'm willing to bet no...
Ini has a point. I've known some excellent PAs who were very, very good at their jobs, but ultimately they had no formal more training in teaching than I do. In fact, a little less, because they were CIRs, not ALTs.


Our AJET coordinators are really nice people and create nice, low-key events that really bring interested people together.
That's your local AJET. National AJET is what everyone bitches about, and is there almost entirely for CV-padding.

johnny
November 24th, 2013, 10:07
Organises meetings? Good for her, I bet she's really good at using excel as well... In these meetings does she draw on her years of experience teach you how to be a better educator? I'm willing to bet no because she'll just be another FOB JET. The blind leading the blind.......

I'm not sure it's the PA's job to have to educate us during the entirety of these meetings. It's a leadership and organizational role.

I believe our PA is in her third year. She has a degree in education and spends part of her week working directly for the kencho so she can organize special education events for us. She herself managed to get a great keynote speaker for my last kencho event who had a lot of great things to teach us.

Gizmotech
November 24th, 2013, 10:10
Organises meetings? Good for her, I bet she's really good at using excel as well... In these meetings does she draw on her years of experience teach you how to be a better educator? I'm willing to bet no because she'll just be another FOB JET. The blind leading the blind.......

Word. But like antonath said, we're dealing with a particular breed of power seeking sycophant, not your generally nice person. The local AJET can be okay (when they're not being unnecessarily regional).

johnny
November 24th, 2013, 10:15
Ini has a point. I've known some excellent PAs who were very, very good at their jobs, but ultimately they had no formal more training in teaching than I do. In fact, a little less, because they were CIRs, not ALTs.


That's your local AJET. National AJET is what everyone bitches about, and is there almost entirely for CV-padding.

My PA has a degree in education. So maybe I'm just in a good situation. She is also an ALT.

As for national AJET, maybe they are resume padding. I hardly care or blame them. I've never really talked with any of the National AJET people since Tokyo Orientation (if I talked with them then).

That Planet Eigo book is handy for newcomers. The organization published that...what else do they do?

Ini
November 24th, 2013, 10:27
it's a leadership and organizational role.


Its not a leadership role. Never let a PA tell you that they have any authority over you or anything that you do.

johnny
November 24th, 2013, 11:07
Its not a leadership role. Never let a PA tell you that they have any authority over you or anything that you do.

You are conflating management roles and leadership roles. Having a leadership role means that you are a consensus builder and a facilitator. Your aim is not to direct people, but rather to motivate them and encourage them to meet an organizational goal.

In that sense, the PA is supposed to be a leader.

Ini
November 24th, 2013, 11:44
I've been good friends with a few PAs. The work they did in terms of international relations at the prefectural office was excellent. It was just the "ALT support" side of their job I felt was utterly pointless.

johnny
November 24th, 2013, 15:35
I've been good friends with a few PAs. The work they did in terms of international relations at the prefectural office was excellent. It was just the "ALT support" side of their job I felt was utterly pointless.

Okay, that is a fair point. I see your point now. I don't find they always do much in the way of personal support. Ironically, I find my BOE does more to support me if I am having problems. I actually think hey want me to be happy which not something all ALT's feel.

therealwindycity
November 25th, 2013, 08:32
I've been good friends with a few PAs. The work they did in terms of international relations at the prefectural office was excellent. It was just the "ALT support" side of their job I felt was utterly pointless.

And it doesn't help that they usually don't actually have any clout at the BOE. I feel that a lot of PAs probably do the best they can with what they have to work with, but ultimately the BOE is going to see them as not much more authoritative than an ALT and give what they say about the same amount of consideration. We're lucky in our prefecture that our PA is actually employed by the BOE, speaks Japanese natively, and was a former ALT who decided to stay here permanently so she understands our situations really well. Even so, there's a limit to what she can do.

ihatefall
January 15th, 2014, 16:43
I would be careful in assuming a private company will get you a better position. I was on JET and was only 32 mins (on a regular train) from Tokyo. I knew a JET in Saitama that was 15 mins from Shibuya. (I live on the good side of the Yamanote now and I am barely 15 mins from Shibuya. But I do live in a huge house in Ikebukuro that I dont pay rent for so no complaining.)

I knew Interac / Heart ALTs that were 2.5 hours from Tokyo. Private ALTs and Eikaiwas are all over the place.

Personally I would must rather be in a public school experiencing sports festivals etc than in some stale Eikaiwa building 5 days a week. (working the night shift sucks)

If I were on the fence about which is better, I would apply to both and take the best offer. If you give up JET soon enough you'll make some alternate very happy anyway. (Just becareful about not getting paid during the breaks and being given a promised amount of money. There was a private I knew that had his hours cut during test season and had to leave Japan because he couldn't make ends meet.)

zombiekelly
January 19th, 2014, 18:37
I'm a first year Interac and only 80 minutes from Tokyo. Bring a gameboy on the train and you won't even notice the time it takes to get there.

johnny
January 19th, 2014, 23:40
I'm a first year Interac and only 80 minutes from Tokyo. Bring a gameboy on the train and you won't even notice the time it takes to get there.

How regularly do the trains come for you? I can bike to get to my regular schools, but if I have a meeting or special assignment and need to catch the train I need to be careful because the trains only come every 30 minutes.

zombiekelly
January 20th, 2014, 16:29
I drive to school, so I don't keep track of the commuting times, but generally it's 2 trains an hour in the afternoon. I don't consider it a pain though. The Hitachi stops once in the morning for the salarymen, knocking time to Tokyo under an hour.

BeckyJones
January 22nd, 2014, 09:40
I feel like I'm bending over backwards for the opportunity to wait 8+ months to start an entry-level job.

The pay is a little bit better than other, similar jobs.

They sponsor your visa and pay for transportation.

Maybe it looks better on a resume.

Am I missing something, or has JET simply done a kick-ass job of marketing their program to make it seem like it's head and shoulders above the rest? Are you applying to other positions in Japan as you wait to hear on JET?

Hi, ex JET and current NON JET here.

to answer your question: Yes and No. JET usually has better pay, and better compensation when it comes to airfare and vacation. JETs also have more support in country than the private people have. This is a good thing and bad thing. If you don't speak Japanese and are having work or life related problems you can usually get support from other JETs, your Coordinators and CIRs, while it might be a bit more difficult to do working for a private company.

The downside to this is that JET is very carebear, and hand holding and there are a lot of JETs who simply can't hack it in the real world IMO, add this to the fact that JETs are notorious hard to fire and get rid of and you get a combination of a lot of childish and inept JETs who make it harder for the rest of the community. Another downside to this is that a lot of prefectures and a lot of BOEs know that JETs are easier to manipulate and easier to get out to their rural area and so you really do play roulette with JET. There are lovely JETs and lovely BOEs in lovely places. And then there are two bit shit holes with horrible students in the middle of no where who treat their JETs like shit and the conditions are quite horrible, so horrible in fact that it would be hard for them to find a private company to fill said positions.

So long story short, JET as far as employee benefits is usually better, but not by much. I have found that my working conditions as an ExJET to be better than when I was on JET, but I've been to japan before and know what I'm doing. If i was a newbie fresh off the boat with no japanese language ability, I think JET would be better than my current private job. But not by much.

word
January 23rd, 2014, 09:24
This discussion was getting a bit off-topic. I moved the off-topic posts to a new thread (http://www.ithinkimlost.com/lounge/18998-off-topic-discussion-moved-aspiring-applying.html) in The Lounge (http://www.ithinkimlost.com/lounge/).

HorseFeathers
January 23rd, 2014, 11:41
My friend who strongly encouraged me to apply to JET was a 3rd year Interac ALT. His reasoning was that the JETs got better treatment overall; that it was like winning the lottery if you got in. But he personally did not like a lot of the JETs he knew because they were straight out of college. He said they complained a lot about their work or their apartments that were far nicer than his. But he acknowledged that this was just a personal bias and that he'd take a position with JET if it were ever offered to him.

Interac was my back up plan. Actually I take that back- at first it was my only plan but my friend strong-armed me to applying for JET. Saying I'd have to be crazy not to give it a shot. So if I end up not getting the job after my interview, I probably will look into Interac again. As far as my friend was concerned, he never had any real terrible issues with the company. He heard stories but they always happened to a friend of a friend so he never took them super seriously. So really, I'd say- JET's not the only choice out there. If Japan is your end goal, check out all your options. You don't have to put all your eggs into one JET basket.

wolfspit
March 7th, 2014, 04:47
The "support network" does foster a certain attitude in people. JETs tend to expect the world to revolve around them and are used to having the BOE wipe their arse for them. Private companies dont have the time or money to waste spoon feeding people so the ALTs tend to need more common sense. Chances are the majority of your friends will either work for the same company or be on JET with you so choose which group best suits you. If you are a pragmatic person JETs will annoy you, if you have never left your parents basement before you will probably starve to death with a private company.

Amen.

kenkennif
March 10th, 2014, 12:09
After five years I finally signed up to ITIL just to answer this question:

THE ANSWER IS YES.

ihatefall
March 10th, 2014, 13:26
After five years I finally signed up to ITIL just to answer this question:

THE ANSWER IS YES.

Agreed.

The support system, pay (thinking summer time here) and of you decide to say here working for the "government program" goes further.

So ken are you staying or going home?


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kenkennif
March 10th, 2014, 13:37
Staying as long as they'll have me.
I'm doing an online masters now in Education with Applied Linguistics and hope to progress from JET into Japanese Higher Education afterwards hopefully.

ihatefall
March 10th, 2014, 15:29
My buddy did that, works at a uni now, started kotoba miners, just did a TED yesterday and is working on his PHD. He seems to love it.


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