View Full Version : Terrified 2016 applicant

March 31st, 2015, 18:22
Congrats to all the JETs that were shortlisted or placed as an alternate today! I didn't even apply and I have been freaking out for ya'll since December. I hope you enjoy the time you have left in your represented countries and get more and more excited with each day that passes by until you finally hop off the planes in Japan!! You are going to influence so many lives (young and old) and it'll be amazing. I hope that I will get to join ya'll next year!!

Unfortunately, a good friend of mine did not get into the programme at all and it is hurting me so bad. She is a truly amazing girl with such a heart for Japanese culture and language. Finding out that she didn't get in has almost completely diminished my thoughts of even applying, which is a scary thought. I have a backup plan, but I'm so afraid I'll actually have to use it next year after I graduate. I'll still teach in the US, but I just want to reach kids out of the country (specifically Japan). Over the past couple of weeks, I've only been able to point out the reasons or JET to reject me (such as allergies, asthma, clinical depression, anxiety, insomnia, and I will be having a major surgery done in May). I'm so afraid they wont even give me the chance to explain how much I've improved and that I'll be completely healed by the time placements came out.

Any words of advice or encouragement form someone like me that's been in the programme?

April 1st, 2015, 06:56
I documented in my health form that I was taking medication for anxiety issues and I was shortlisted. During my interview, they asked me how I would deal with anxiety and stress over there and I mentioned to them that I'm exercising a lot more and talking to people, which keeps things at bay. So don't be deterred by that! If you make it to the interview round next year, they will ask you about your health and you need to be fully prepared on how you will deal with their questions.

She is a truly amazing girl with such a heart for Japanese culture and language.

Of course, I don't know this person but depending how passionate she is about Japanese language and culture, that could have worked against her? I majored in East Asian Studies in college but in the interview, I made sure to show how I can bring different aspects of American culture to Japan. It doesn't matter how much she loves Japanese and their culture, what they are looking for is people who are passionate about sharing their own language and culture to Japan. Anyway, I hope this helps and I'm truly sorry for your friend's rejection. My best friend also was rejected this year so I can empathize with you on that.

April 1st, 2015, 08:13
While I can't say that I'm on my way to Japan for certain, yet, I really don't feel that many of my medical issues were a factor. I've suffered from clinical depression and anxiety/panic attacks - all of which are under control now, plus allergies and migraines. I take medication for the allergies and migraines regularly. I'm also just over a year away from having major surgery. They didn't even ask about that. The questions they asked about the other issue were more placement questions.
My advice is to make sure you follow all directions EXACTLY and fill out all forms completely. Don't let that stop you. It took me several times to finally get an interview and I thought it was my health. Now I realize, my health had nothing to do with it. Even tho I was a great candidate, it wasn't coming across on paper.

April 1st, 2015, 08:36
All you can do is try. I didn't think I had a real chance. I'm an older candidate with a choppy college history and I suffer from Asthma (not severe), but I knew I would fail for sure if I didn't apply at all. As they say: You gotta be in it to win it. So I applied. Several months later here I am, shortlisted. My advice is just apply. You got nothing to lose by trying. It's free.

April 1st, 2015, 09:04
I also mentioned that I had a recent history of depression and anxiety on my medical form (the "currently being treated" kind of recent) and I was shortlisted this year as well. They definitely asked about it in the interview, but you just have to assure them that you have things under control and that you have thought of ways to cope in Japan. I mentioned my arsenal: joining clubs or community groups to prevent isolation, journaling, meditation/mindfulness, exercise, even that I'm aware of therapists in Japan that can Skype. I emphasized that I had everything under control and that I have ways to take care of myself if I'm in the city or in the middle of the deep inaka.

I had the same fears as you when I applied this year! I was freaking out for the longest time that I would be rejected since mental illness carries so much stigma in Japan, and I almost considered leaving it out of my application, but I figured I'd rather try and not hide anything so I wouldn't have to worry about getting caught. I don't regret it: I made it!

I say, don't be afraid of pre-existing conditions. If you feel like JET is something you want to do, apply!

April 1st, 2015, 09:31
To add to the discussion (but not to encourage!) I was diagnosed with depression and asthma as a child and didn't even mention it. Since it was so long ago, and I don't feel like it has truly impacted me as an adult, I've pretty much mentally ignored those diagnosis. It didn't come up, and they didn't query my pediatrician. Maybe it could be different if you were recently diagnosed.

Point of my post is to say that I think people over think this part way too much! Just be honest with your self, and I think theat will work in your favor.

April 1st, 2015, 10:10
Thank you so much everyone! I really appreciate the encouragement and advice! I feel a lot better knowing that it's not as big of a deal as I was making out to be. I will do my best to become healthier over the next year :)

April 1st, 2015, 11:11
Don't Freak out. I think it's best to just do your application the best that you can and then get on with your life until you hear back. And i think it's best to not focus too heavily on how much you love Japan - obviously having an interest will help you but you have to show them how you can benefit Japan, what your motivations are for wanting to go on the Jet Programme and what makes you a good candidate. Also, have you spent much time in Japan before? I just ask because some people have this fantasy of Japan being this amazing foreign and fun place (which it can be) but the reality is it can also be quite a difficult and frustrating place at times.

As for the health side of things...don't worry too much, especially if it is in the past. I was honest on the form and wrote everything i have suffered from in the past - depression, chronic fatigue, thyroid problem, sleep apneoa, asthma etc. and a list of about 10 or more medications i took in the past. It barely all fit on the sheet. All you need is for your doctor to say that you are fine now. They brought it up briefly in the interview and seemed happy with my explanation. I just got shortlisted so it obviously wasn't a big issue.

April 1st, 2015, 14:53
Some things I've noticed over the last three years of observing the JET application process:

1) Talk about yourself, not about Japan. If you can talk about Japan through yourself, that's good. If you can't talk about Japan through yourself, that's good too. But don't talk about Japan. Japan is not you, and you are not Japan. Japan can be a window, but it is not a mirror.

2) When I say talk about yourself, I mean talk about what makes you YOU. Are you really into fantasy fiction? Do you play sports? Have you ever saved an injured dog from a burning building? Why did you do these things and what has it made you realize about yourself? With these realizations, what have you done? What do you want to do? Have you done something about it lately? Try to get more involved.

3) 90% of the people I see wait listed or rejected have gotten that result for a reason. The way they communicate radiates aggression, timidness, a fear of themselves, or a fear of others. These are not things that are a part of you as a human. These are things that are a product of your interactions with other humans. Learn to recognize them and, in doing so, learn to feel comfortable as YOU.

4) Have someone read your essay. Someone who actually likes writing and is educated. I am probably singlehandedly responsible for getting my roommate shortlisted, and while it's unfortunate because she's 95% of the way towards turning down the job, that is the position you want to be in.

Okay? Okay.
It'll be great, I promise.

April 1st, 2015, 21:25
Unfortunately, a good friend of mine did not get into the programme at all and it is hurting me so bad. She is a truly amazing girl with such a heart for Japanese culture and language. Finding out that she didn't get in has almost completely diminished my thoughts of even applying, which is a scary thought.

Some great advice listed above. I just want to chime in here with some advice given to me a while back - (to paraphrase) When asking for something, the worst response you can get is "no", but sometimes it will be "yes". If you never ask, it will always be "no".

Although I'm sure your friend is a lovely person, you have no way of knowing what happened in her interview room, or how her competition performed. Also, none of that applies AT ALL to what your chances are if you apply. If you want to try for JET for next year, do it! Gather all your paperwork ahead of time, write the best SOP you can, and hopefully give a fantastic interview. But, you definitely won't get in if you don't apply at all.

April 2nd, 2015, 00:41
I think the best thing I did for myself was have a backup plan. If teaching in Japan is your goal, I think it's important to remember that JET isn't the only way. It might be the best package, but plenty of people have amazing times through private ALT companies and eikaiwa. It felt really nice to have a safety net, just in case.

As for the application, I would say being anal retentive pays off. I double, triple, quadruple checked, and had my sister who is an English major/editor read my SOP and check my application for mistakes. My SOP was very straightforward, but I definitely wanted to be sure to highlight my personality and the plans I had for the program through my interests (NOT my interest in Japan, though I believe there is a paragraph where you will answer 'Why Japan?')

For the interview, all you can really do is be confident in yourself and what you can bring to the program. They WANT to hire you - give them a reason to. Even if you're hella nervous, it will not make or break you , as long as you're able to put yourself out there and really showcase who you are, why you are unique, and why the JET program would be lucky to have you. Advertise your strengths, acknowledge your weaknesses and how you have been working on overcoming them/how you plan to address them in another country. In my SOP and interview I really focused on my willingness to make mistakes, why it's important to let yourself be vulnerable as a language student, and my enthusiasm to get involved with the community. They asked me a LOT about my interests outside of Japan and how I could apply them to the ALT position. I made some typical interview slipups (you know the ones where a question catches you off guard and you feel like you're speaking another language trying to answer it lol), but I walked out with no regrets, feeling like a gave a positive, professional, and accurate representation of myself, even if I had some doubts during the 2 month wait haha. Just BE YOU, seriously. And making them laugh doesn't hurt either... definitely a confidence booster haha. If you're naturally sort of goofy, don't hide that about yourself - I have a feeling most interviewers really feed off of the energy you put forward! Some of the 'stupider' things I said really opened up some fun questions/conversations during mine (i.e., 'What would you do to get kids to speak in English?' 'Tbh, probably talk to them about Taylor Swift... I really love her right now..' - at first I was like shit why'd I say that... but they definitely fed off of it haha)

April 2nd, 2015, 01:20
People get rejected for all kinds of reasons. Your friend, although lovely, probably made a mistake in her interview. If not, she or he had an interviewer that wasn't convinced he or she would flourish or even cope well in Japan. Either way, your friend's result shouldn't discourage you from applying.

One thing some people tend to forget, this is a job interview. Talk more about what the CO will get out of hiring you and less about what you'll get out of JET. Just my opinion though.

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 2nd, 2015, 02:44
As others have said, don't worry about your past or current medical conditions - just be honest on the application with what you have been diagnosed and treated for. As long as your doctor signs off on it that's good enough for Tokyo - we just want to make sure that you will be medically okay living in Japan. People with anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc. have all gone on the program.

As for the interview, best advice I can have is to come off as personable and right for the job. It's a job about teaching English to kids in Japan. Speak with us in a strong voice - if you're too quiet and timid in the interview we might worry about your ability to stand in front of 35 kids and control the classroom. If we ask you a question about how you would handle XYZ scenario, don't just say "I'll do my best," but give us an anecdote about a previous experience and how you will use that experience to handle that XYZ situation. You should already have ideas as to how you want to get involved with the community - sports, join a hiking group, join a dojo, paint outside in the park and talk to passerbys - and you should have an idea of what you want to teach your students and the community about America. Be comfortable talking about yourself.

Thinking about the interviews, the thing that really stood out in my mind was each candidate's energy level. You don't want to be bouncing off the walls but I'd rather have someone be over-energized than under-energized. Watch movies or TV shows with inspirational teachers to get a gist of a great energy level. Personally I like Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, or Will Schuester from the TV show Glee, or Bill Nye from...Bill Nye. They're fun and passionate!