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View Full Version : Some simple advice for you while applying/interviewing



BeckyJones
October 24th, 2014, 08:45
Hey n00bs. I'm BJ, and if you don't check out the lounge for all our special awesome happy fun time shenanigans I suggest you do. But, I'm not here to plug the lounge, I'm here to offer some sage advice from an old timer for your applying and interview stages. Because for once, I feel like being helpful, and I think my wisdom can save some of you some heart ache.

SUPER KNOWLEDGE 1)

BE FLEXIBLE!
Jet and Japan in general is really hesitant about inflexible people. While living in Japan you will be put in situations outside of your comfort zone. If you think otherwise, you are a fool. They know this, and they want to see that you are willing to roll with the punches. If you want to be put in a city, or the country... if you want to be next Kansai gaidai or if you just like lollyporn and want to get your AKB fantasy on... that is fine. But JET don't care.
4522
see this? this is honeybadger, he don't give a F&%# and neither does JET.

SUPER KNOWLEDGE 2)

You are not unique, and no one cares
You might think you are interesting, special and deserving of JET to give you some sort of consideration for your Medical,Hobby, Academic life, Sports preference etc. After all, you are unique right? Well no. you are not. JET doesn't care about your social life, or your hobbies or your medical life. Because you are just one unique snowflake surrounded by thousands of other snowflakes. Sure they want people to come to Japan and teach in Japanese schools, and they do want to do a bit of soft power with cultural exchange. But, there are more people applying than there are positions, and they don't really care about you the individual. Sorry to say, but it is true. So go back to rule 1, be flexible. Don't demand anything, and when you have your special request (which it is fine to request things) always keep in mind that JET honestly doesn't care about you and fullfilling your request.

for example, you could say, "I am allergic to mold, deathly alergic to mold... So I dont think I should be placed in a moldy environment. What about Sapporo?" and JET will place you in Kumamoto, in an old abandon house filled with mold.

JET is like Honeybadger..

It's cool to be different, and everyone here is eccentric in their own ways... but don't feel entitiled to be eccentric or loved foryour eccentricities because you are not unqiue compared to the whole... And trust me when I say, JET and Japan has seen every type of person come...

SUPER KNOWLEDGE 3)

JET AND JAPAN ISN'T FOR EVERYONE

seriously, we old timers like it here. And we see why a lot of people want to come to Japan. it is nice... very nice at times... but it is also shitty at times. Also, Japan isn't for everyone. A lot of people every year come to Japan with good intentions and get their asses kicked by Japan. Every year we see people say "I've dreamed of Japan my entire life! " or "Japan is where I want to live forever" before they even live here (college study abroads don't count). And every year, we see those same people run with their tails between their legs screaming for home and how horrible Japan is.
Here is something to consider:
Japan is filled with racists
Japan is filled with mysoginists
Japan is filled with a lot of people who don't care about your lollyporn collection
Japan is filled with redneck rice farmers, who only like to drink.
Japan is filled with an education system that will spit you out and replace you with another dumb westerner at the drop of the hat.
Japan is filled with other JETs who do the same job as you, and don't really care about your super new awesome lesson plan... yawn... we've seen it before
Japan is filled with teachers who will treat you like shit, and don't care about you.

If you are cool with this, and you are cool with the fact that you might have to deal with some of these negatives, Come on over. But remember. JET and Japan isn't Zion, or the promise land. I highly recommend you look at other places too, Korea, China, Thailand, Argentina, Poland. Think of Japan as a great place to do some ESL work and enjoy a few years abroad. Not as the "destination" and you will have a better time. Trust me.
I'm old.
I know what I am talking about.

Jiggit
October 24th, 2014, 08:51
Small Print: The views of BeckyJones do not necessarily match the views of your placement, the JET programme or Japan in general.

Zolrak 22
October 24th, 2014, 08:52
The high priest has spoken.




(But seriously, he's right)

Wasabi
October 24th, 2014, 11:23
Can we get this stickied?

sharpinthefang
October 24th, 2014, 15:50
The lord and saviour has spoken the truth!
Also, you will always be compared to your pred by the teachers, regardless if they were good or bad.

SomePeopleJustSaySnow
October 24th, 2014, 15:58
The honeybadger! Greyjoy taught me about him!

therealwindycity
October 24th, 2014, 23:19
One thing about Statement of Purpose letters - a lot of them tend to start with situations like "when I was a child I read a Japanese fairy tale/learned about origami/read a book about Japan and from then my interest has deepened and grown," but then don't show go on to show any real efforts the person has made to connect to Japan/Japanese culture since then. Try to keep it as concrete as possible and remember that you're trying to show the screeners what you can do to benefit your BoE as a good employee, not just as a cultural ambassador.

BeckyJones
October 27th, 2014, 09:48
One thing about Statement of Purpose letters - a lot of them tend to start with situations like "when I was a child I read a Japanese fairy tale/learned about origami/read a book about Japan and from then my interest has deepened and grown," but then don't show go on to show any real efforts the person has made to connect to Japan/Japanese culture since then. Try to keep it as concrete as possible and remember that you're trying to show the screeners what you can do to benefit your BoE as a good employee, not just as a cultural ambassador.
that is a good point. Forgot to address it. Too many potential people focus on what "JET can do for them" or what they can get out of JET. Try to think, "what can they get out of me?"
cause like Honeybadger, JET doesn't give a shit who it gives super gonorrhea to

Jiggit
October 27th, 2014, 10:24
I would advise against starting with anecdotey stuff in general, it comes across very childish. And probably don't talk about "why I love Nippon and all its subarashii mono" until the 3rd or 4th paragraph. It's a job interview primarily, focus on the job first and talk about your personal life later.

If you haven't written this kind of thing for a job application before, think of it like applying to college. Do you start the letter talking about your extracurriculars? No, you start it by talking about the course you're applying for and why you want to study at that college etc. If you must mention how you spend your weekends hiking to third world countries to raise money for cancer babies awareness then do it after you've already talked about what's directly relevant and necessary to whatever you're applying for.

Zolrak 22
October 27th, 2014, 11:20
Mine was basically:
-desire to teach,
- an experience from teaching(which implies some qualities /skills) ,
-the skills I possess,
-what I'll do for them with those skills
-THEN I speak about why Japan,
- and finally I touch on what Japan will do for me, along with what I hope to do for them after JET..

If I was to start with what they can do for me, you can guarantee I'll be rejected.

BeckyJones
October 27th, 2014, 11:35
Mine was basically:
-desire to teach,
- an experience from teaching(which implies some qualities /skills) ,
-the skills I possess,
-what I'll do for them with those skills
-THEN I speak about why Japan,
- and finally I touch on what Japan will do for me, along with what I hope to do for them after JET..

If I was to start with what they can do for me, you can guarantee I'll be rejected.

that sounds like a fine SOP. Mine was similar I'm sure, back in the day. I think i spent most of it stating on how I was wanting to learn what teaching is like, and wanting to learn more about my girlfriend (now wife) homeland. But even then, it was more of a "I want to teach the kiddies! and scare them shitless with Halloween pranks.! than "Japan will give me a bunch of shit"

SomePeopleJustSaySnow
October 27th, 2014, 11:49
The start of my interview I talked about teaching and barely mentioned Japan at all, to the extent that one of the interviewers pointed this out. And I was just honest with them - I didn't know much about Japanese culture, I found the language interesting but only from afar, and I mostly wanted to go because I'd be able to learn about teaching in a monolingual environment as opposed to the multilingual environment I was used to and that being forced by circumstances to learn a second language (other than restaurant french) would be an interesting challenge. I was just... honest, I guess, about why I wanted to go.

Accepted in the first wave of letters, no shortlist, preferred placement. And maybe the interview had something to do with my being posted in what is apparently the least Japanese Japanese school ever, as far as attitude goes.

If you're honest in an interview you don't have to worry about dicking up your facts or reasoning. Elementary, but when I worked in my last job and got to listen in to interview sessions I was surprised by how much utter bull some people would spout trying to seem perfect for the job, apparently completely unaware that the person they were talking to was a human being above the age of five and could tell fancy-sounding lies from the truth.

Gizmotech
October 27th, 2014, 12:26
I actually just found my SoP on my laptop.

Mine was:
-TERRIBLE anecdote (god I can't believe I actually put that in... I musta been high)
-10 years of history showing progressive interest in Japanese culture
-leading to university studies.
-what uni studies gave me for English teaching
-what I can do and wanted to do as a JET in the job.

at no point in time did I mention internationalization.

I did clearly mention what I can get out of JET as far as an English teacher, but that was specific to my situation and really tied back into why I was awesome for JET. I wouldn't have mentioned it if it didn't relate back to the job in some way.

I'd also add that I made some rather spectacular grammar mistakes in it that I doubt anyone noticed, but now stick out to me like sore thumbs.

Having reread it again, I have no idea why they gave me the job at all.

BeckyJones
October 27th, 2014, 12:33
I actually just found my SoP on my laptop.

Mine was:
-TERRIBLE anecdote (god I can't believe I actually put that in... I musta been high)
-10 years of history showing progressive interest in Japanese culture
-leading to university studies.
-what uni studies gave me for English teaching
-what I can do and wanted to do as a JET in the job.

at no point in time did I mention internationalization.

I did clearly mention what I can get out of JET as far as an English teacher, but that was specific to my situation and really tied back into why I was awesome for JET. I wouldn't have mentioned it if it didn't relate back to the job in some way.

I'd also add that I made some rather spectacular grammar mistakes in it that I doubt anyone noticed, but now stick out to me like sore thumbs.

Having reread it again, I have no idea why they gave me the job at all.

interview? desperation?
I think that whenever i meet some of the stupid weebs on JET. What on earth did they do, to get in.

johnny
October 27th, 2014, 13:40
Great post BJ. I could not agree more. I have one quick thing to add. Most people don't hate coming here so much that they leave before their contract ends; however, many people do spend their entire year here in a completely miserable mood and can't wait until their contract ends. So, ask yourself whether you want to spend an entire year somewhere that you are not likely to flourish even if you can survive here.

Also, I just checked my SOP, and I was surprised that I barely mentioned being interested in Japan. I simply mentioned that I wanted to learn about life in Japan and about Japanese culture. I did talk about how I lived in South Korea for a year and how much I loved immersing myself in the culture. I threw that in to let them know that I wouldn't go crazy after moving here.

Jiggit
October 27th, 2014, 17:29
I've said this umpteen times before but it bears repeating: A large amount of current JETS clearly had little to no interest in Japan before coming. Your SoP is not meant to convince people how much you are interested in Japan. There is no criteria for giving the position to whoever deserves it for having the most Japan points. Come across as competent, flexible and normal and you will almost certainly get the job.

SomePeopleJustSaySnow
October 27th, 2014, 17:55
Essentially, think of it like any other job interview - if you want to work in electronics you don't bang on about how much you love printers for ten minutes, you convince your prospective employer that you could sell them.

therealwindycity
October 27th, 2014, 21:17
Having an interest in and experience with Japanese culture isn't a bad thing, but it should be something concrete. There are a lot of things that could apply (language/culture/history classes and study abroad are the big ones, but it could also be things like participating in cultural events and festivals, joining a Japan-related extracurricular activity, working with Japanese companies/clients, hosting an exchange student, etc.), as long as it's not just a vague interest that you've held but never really acted on. It's also not a bad thing to show experience living abroad in other countries, because that shows that you have experience dealing with culture shock and with learning to live in a foreign culture.

There is a pattern I've noticed in SoPs of starting of with an anecdote from childhood about something that sparked an interest in Japan, and I imagine the people reading the applications have been completely inundated with it. Try to avoid this pitfall, potential applicants!

coop52
October 28th, 2014, 20:39
It's better to focus on experiences you had that might be useful in the future, like some time when you taught someone something or had a positive interaction with someone from a different culture. It's far, far more important to show what you can contribute to the job rather than what they can contribute to you. I think it's fine to include anecdotes, but make sure you don't do the same "I made origami/went to a cherry blossom festival/watched anime as a kid" that everyone seems to do, even if that's how you got interested in Japan. You really don't have enough space to gush about your love of onsen/giant robots/moe girls/whatever, so save space for the stuff that the JET people actually care about.

BeckyJones
October 29th, 2014, 08:05
you know. No newbs have posted in this thread, only old timers.
I'm starting to think the newbs don't want our advice, and don't want real talk.


Hey noobies. You may not like the opinions of some of us old timers, but with ini and I alone you got probably 15+ years experience living in the country. If you add on two or three more of the other oldies, you get over 20, 30 years experience. We may not be the nicest, but if you can't handle our un niceness, you can't hack it here. (and here, I mean Japan... not ITIL).

Shit, we are actually quite nice if you think about it, we have gone out of our way to actually tell you whats up... and not some PR friendly bullshit

TweedPawn
October 29th, 2014, 08:28
I'm, I guess that's an invitation then? So far, ya'lls advice has been similar to what I heard last year. I'll have to say that my friends that are in JET loved it, but they knew how to make the most out of less-than-awesome situations.

Not entirely sure what to say other than the first time applicants should really listen to you guys. It's really best to hear all the bad stuff. It mentally prepares you. If your placement is as awful as what some JETs go through, then you'll be ready to brush it off and enjoy other aspects about Japan. If your placement is amazing, then you'll feel pretty good and be grateful! No way to lose!

BeckyJones
October 29th, 2014, 08:30
I'm, I guess that's an invitation then? So far, ya'lls advice has been similar to what I heard last year. I'll have to say that my friends that are in JET loved it, but they knew how to make the most out of less-than-awesome situations.

Not entirely sure what to say other than the first time applicants should really listen to you guys. It's really best to hear all the bad stuff. It mentally prepares you. If your placement is as awful as what some JETs go through, then you'll be ready to brush it off and enjoy other aspects about Japan. If your placement is amazing, then you'll feel pretty good and be grateful! No way to lose!

oh yea, don't get us wrong. Most of us love it here. most... But even good placements have shitty things about them.
Thanks for the feedback
I raise my coffee mug to you, because god damnit... today I need coffee.

TweedPawn
October 29th, 2014, 08:40
Your true motivation was for us to entertain you, wasn't it? >_>

I believe you guys secretly bet which applicants will make it. There's gotta be a betting ring going on.

Jiggit
October 29th, 2014, 08:42
But you're doing it because you get off on being some kind of Ron Swanson tough guy image and giving them patronising "Real Talk". As I told you before, nobody is going to listen if you are condescending.

Telling off people who have a completely wrong idea and won't accept anything but their personaly fairyland is one thing. Assuming people are idiots and treating them like that from the beginning is not a good way to reach out to them.

Jiggit
October 29th, 2014, 09:03
I'm, I guess that's an invitation then? So far, ya'lls advice has been similar to what I heard last year. I'll have to say that my friends that are in JET loved it, but they knew how to make the most out of less-than-awesome situations.

Not entirely sure what to say other than the first time applicants should really listen to you guys. It's really best to hear all the bad stuff. It mentally prepares you. If your placement is as awful as what some JETs go through, then you'll be ready to brush it off and enjoy other aspects about Japan. If your placement is amazing, then you'll feel pretty good and be grateful! No way to lose!

Thanks, that's basically what I think we're going for. We don't need to persuade you to come to Japan, if you're here you've probably already decided. It might seem like we're miserable in Japan, and some of us are, but most of us who have been here for 2+ years are pretty comfortable in our lives.

A lot of JETs bitch massively when they meet about everything under the sun. And a lot of their problems arise from stuff they don't understand or should have known about before coming. The few ITILers I have known IRL have a lot more perspective and are generally pretty chill on the surface.

greyjoy
October 29th, 2014, 09:38
you know. No newbs have posted in this thread, only old timers.
I'm starting to think the newbs don't want our advice, and don't want real talk.


Hey noobies. You may not like the opinions of some of us old timers, but with ini and I alone you got probably 15+ years experience living in the country. If you add on two or three more of the other oldies, you get over 20, 30 years experience. We may not be the nicest, but if you can't handle our un niceness, you can't hack it here. (and here, I mean Japan... not ITIL).

Shit, we are actually quite nice if you think about it, we have gone out of our way to actually tell you whats up... and not some PR friendly bullshit

Yeah, it's probably their problem for not wanting advice, not your problem for living in a 1995 Disney movie about an Internet forum. Who calls people "newbs" who aren't thirteen years old and teabagging someone on xbox live?

Miami has been giving out tons of useful pragmatic advice that many of the approximately twenty new posters we've had in the past two months seem to appreciate. It's not "real talk", but the people still seem to think he's "off the hook".

BeckyJones
October 29th, 2014, 10:33
Yeah, it's probably their problem for not wanting advice, not your problem for living in a 1995 Disney movie about an Internet forum. Who calls people "newbs" who aren't thirteen years old and teabagging someone on xbox live?

Miami has been giving out tons of useful pragmatic advice that many of the approximately twenty new posters we've had in the past two months seem to appreciate. It's not "real talk", but the people still seem to think he's "off the hook".
wait you don't teabag people on xbox live?
what a loser.

word
October 29th, 2014, 10:37
I'm about ready to move this thread to The Lounge.

BeckyJones
October 29th, 2014, 10:40
Your true motivation was for us to entertain you, wasn't it? >_>

I believe you guys secretly bet which applicants will make it. There's gotta be a betting ring going on.
DING DING DING. I only come here because I want to be entertained. I honestly couldn't give a shit about any of you, or any of the older posters either. Think about it, Do you go onto your college forum and help high schoolers apply to your college? And if you did, why?

But with that aside... Sometimes, people feel like being helpful. Like right now, I don't care about you getting into JET. But if you ask a question, and I got an answer for you, why not? Maybe Itll help you, and it isn't anything off my back to give you some advice. When you got 4 hours of downtime at work, sometimes you will even help people you don't care about on the internet, because of boredom. As for the betting on who makes it ? absolutely. We read some of your posts, and think "who would let this person in?" and then we read some posts by some well adjusted people and say, "Maybe, they will be just fine". But do we care about ya'll? most of us don't. Hell, I don't give a shit about any new JETs or foreigners in Japan until after at least the first year or two, when they get over that "OMG JAPAN WOO WOO" shit.


So what am I getting at here? Sure I hope my advice is useful... but my investment in your future or anyones future in Japan is based purely on how many lols I can get while I drink my coffee today, not because I care about the future generation of JETs.

SomePeopleJustSaySnow
October 29th, 2014, 10:56
I think Tweedcorn has a bright future ahead of him/her, and I completely agree - it's much better to be a pleasantly surprised pessimist than an unsatisfied optimist.

blackxpetals
October 29th, 2014, 17:35
Thanks for the advice guys! :) I've been trying to write my SOP for awhile now, but can't get pass the beginning because i wasn't sure what to write. But i'll make sure not to add any cliche anecdotes that'll make people roll their eyes.

greyjoy
October 29th, 2014, 21:46
My first sentence: My interest in Japan and its culture began a young age, starting with the things that often interest children, but as I grew older, I continued to develop a deeper appreciation for more sophisticated elements.

And it only went downhill from there.
My point is, don't worry about it. Write some cliched garbage if it gets you started writing it, and come back later and edit it out.

elfpoet
October 29th, 2014, 23:49
Cliched? Sure, but at least I embrace it. I began my SoP with an anecdote about visiting the Edo-Tokyo Museum and learning about Japanese trains. At least I ended up with four paragraphs of qualifications sandwiched between two thin Wonderbread slices of trite sentiment. I'll see how well it does.

Gizmotech
October 29th, 2014, 23:55
Cliched? Sure, but at least I embrace it. I began my SoP with an anecdote about visiting the Edo-Tokyo Museum and learning about Japanese trains. At least I ended up with four paragraphs of qualifications sandwiched between two thin Wonderbread slices of trite sentiment. I'll see how well it does.

Sounds better than mine. Good luck!

Verbatim
October 30th, 2014, 00:10
My first sentence: My interest in Japan and its culture began a young age, starting with the things that often interest children, but as I grew older, I continued to develop a deeper appreciation for more sophisticated elements.

And it only went downhill from there.
My point is, don't worry about it. Write some cliched garbage if it gets you started writing it, and come back later and edit it out.

I threw an anecdote like that in there (oops), but put it in the middle of the paper after talking about how professional and awesome I would be for the job (in more civilized terms, of course).

riahh1026
October 30th, 2014, 05:07
My first sentence: My interest in Japan and its culture began a young age, starting with the things that often interest children, but as I grew older, I continued to develop a deeper appreciation for more sophisticated elements.

And it only went downhill from there.
My point is, don't worry about it. Write some cliched garbage if it gets you started writing it, and come back later and edit it out.
That first part of your sentence is the first part of my first sentence as well. Freaked me out a bit.

Verbatim
October 30th, 2014, 05:38
That first part of your sentence is the first part of my first sentence as well. Freaked me out a bit.

We're doomed! Mine literally says "My interest in Japan" as well.

xD

johnny
October 30th, 2014, 08:29
Cliched? Sure, but at least I embrace it. I began my SoP with an anecdote about visiting the Edo-Tokyo Museum and learning about Japanese trains. At least I ended up with four paragraphs of qualifications sandwiched between two thin Wonderbread slices of trite sentiment. I'll see how well it does.

Totally OT, but the Edo-Tokyo Museum is awesome.

Jiggit
October 30th, 2014, 08:36
As you can see, one of the reasons to avoid starting with an anecdote is to avoid your essay being indistinctive.

therealwindycity
October 30th, 2014, 09:05
We're doomed! Mine literally says "My interest in Japan" as well.

xD

I don't want to say I told y'all so, but ...

sourdoughsushi
October 30th, 2014, 11:44
My first sentence used the word 'miasma' in reference to the odors produced by a Japanese stove and the removal of shoes in my high school Japanese classroom. I think I expressed thinking my teacher was crazy in the second sentence.

My friend got into the program with a story about failing with Japanese toilets.

Jiggit
October 30th, 2014, 11:48
I shouldn't worry, if JET had any bias against people who fancy themselves literary geniuses then about 50% of the current ALTs would never have got here in the first place.

BeckyJones
October 30th, 2014, 12:06
I shouldn't worry, if JET had any bias against people who fancy themselves literary geniuses then about 50% of the current ALTs would never have got here in the first place.

why on earth would they want pedants to come here. The education system is better off with a trained monkey than someone who knows )teaching ) the english language ) how to be a party pooper

Jiggit
October 30th, 2014, 12:11
The education system is better off with a trained monkey than someone who knows the english language

Well yes, you would seem to be proving that personally.

I would suggest, however, that some schools would prefer an ALT who speaks English well enough to know what a simple word like "literary" actually means.

mothy
October 30th, 2014, 12:38
I literary know what that word means.

BeckyJones
October 30th, 2014, 12:55
Well yes, you would seem to be proving that personally.

I would suggest, however, that some schools would prefer an ALT who speaks English well enough to know what a simple word like "literary" actually means.

the only thing worse than a fool, is an educated fool.

bitch please, you know I am an awesome ALT. I teach the kids all the fly dope mad phat shizzle.

SomePeopleJustSaySnow
October 30th, 2014, 13:49
I would pay to see that.

Penguee
November 6th, 2014, 14:32
I ended up editing this part of my SOP out, but it started with something along the lines of, "I sucked at Japanese so much that my teacher constantly told me to quit, but I tried hard and got way better then all my other classmates, boo-yeah!" Then again, said teacher told everyone to quit and that Japanese was too difficult for us to understand...she ended up getting fired, but whatever. If I were to honestly tell about my first 'experience' with Japanese, it would be watching a movie with Japanese subtitles as a kid and being pissed off by the stupid characters on the bottom of the screen. Haha. So yeah, I decided to not really use anecdotes.

Jiggit
November 6th, 2014, 14:35
I ended up editing this part of my SOP out, but it started with something along the lines of, "I sucked at Japanese so much that my teacher constantly told me to quit, but I tried hard and got way better then all my other classmates, boo-yeah!" Then again, said teacher told everyone to quit and that Japanese was too difficult for us to understand...she ended up getting fired, but whatever. If I were to honestly tell about my first 'experience' with Japanese, it would be watching a movie with Japanese subtitles as a kid and being pissed off by the stupid characters on the bottom of the screen. Haha. So yeah, I decided to not really use anecdotes.

I think that would be wise.