View Full Version : I applied for Interac a bit early, but I want JET. Advice!

October 1st, 2008, 19:12
Hi there,
Well being excited over the concept of being in Japan for a year I immediately applied to interac so I could have one part of my plan done (I also don't have a job at the moment so I got anxious and started applying). I assumed that interac was going to be just as slow as JET. Big mistake, when I was looking over AEON and JET's benefits, interac was definitely not on top in that case. Not only do they need you to bring $5000 and pay for airfare in the beginning, they don't give you a furnished apartment and you are responsible for moving in. You also don't get paid for the first two months, but will be compensated after the year contract ends. I would think at least giving a furnished apartment would make it much easier on our part. I have passed the phone screening and now they are inviting me to the seminar in Nov. 8th at 9am. They say if I do accept the contract, I would have to start in March 2009 because the schools start in April. Honestly I want interac as my last choice, not something I am going to sign just because I was early in applying. Basically I don't want to having it so rough in the beginning because I don't really have the money or on my own in moving in. I really want the support system that JET would give. If it wasn't my first time being on my own, then I don't think I would need the support system so much. This would be the first time I would be completely independent having no help what so ever. Of course they will give you an independent contractor to help with internet and things like that, but I am sure they are not going quite help you with manual labor.

Anyway what should I do? Should I just go to the interac seminar and hold off on signing a contract if they accept me? I all ready prepared most of my essay, had recommendation letters written, and filled out most of my application for JET. I just need to get my transcripts and papers together after editing a few things. They won't even let you know if you got accepted for the interview until February.

I was thinking of applying to JET, if I get rejected by JET, I would apply to AEON/GEOS. If they rejected me, then use interac as my last option. This is purely based on what benefits each company can give me. Hence why I ranked it this way. Actually I was also thinking of applying to grad schools as my last back up but then I think that would be a bit hectic. I am not even sure which major I would like to do. But I would be at a loss if I don't get accepted to any programs, and rejected my last choice too early (assuming that I got accepted into interac).

(I majored in Jewelry and Metalsmithing in Rhode Island School of Design)

Can anyone who has gone through interac give me any words of advice? Should I still try for grad schools as well as the exchange programs? Any reasonable advise would help! Need some clarity...

Anyone preferred AEON over interac or vice versa?

EDIT: I contacted interac and asked them if there's a later starting position. They said if I wish to put a hold on my application they can do so, and the interview would take place in Spring 2009 instead of November this year. *phew* okay so I don't have to make a decision right away.

October 2nd, 2008, 09:05
Reject Interac. You clearly don't have means to sustain yourself for the time they don't pay and it won't be worth it in the long run anyways. Your first months will be spent more miserable than happy.

You should definitely just sign up for JET and then if you don't make to the final stage (or the interview), go for AEON, which, while you'll be worked much harder than either Interac or JET (Google "The Truth About Aeon" for more details), at least you'll get an easier time out of time. Plus, if you don't make into JET, your chances are much higher provided you're not Spec-R.

Of course, JET is the best option - it encourages student-teacher interaction, you really can get into the heart of the system and get in outsiders' inside-out view on things and you get paid quite a bit. However, you already knew that.

October 2nd, 2008, 09:28
Before putting Aeon over Interac, you would be wise to consider how different the jobs are and not just the benefits. Do you want to be in a (junior) high school teaching ~3 hours a day or a for profit office type environment teaching ~6+ hours a day? Also, if you must be placed in a big city, Aeon and eikaiwa in general is a better bet.

October 2nd, 2008, 09:41
JET is the best option - it encourages student-teacher interaction, you really can get into the heart of the system and get in outsiders' inside-out view on things and you get paid quite a bit.

Is there another JET program that I dont know about?

October 2nd, 2008, 10:40
We make a few grand more than AEONschmuck #9598908448903278923472349 and our apartments tend to be at least partially subsidized.

October 2nd, 2008, 10:55
So? ethiopians have more to eat that somalians but you wouldnt say either were eating "quite a bit" of food

October 2nd, 2008, 14:31
Well my dad could probably borrow money for me, but I feel I shouldn't make him go through trouble if it's not necessary. Also they will introduce me to a bank in Japan to borrow money in the beginning. Technically I would be reimbursed by the end of my contract with interac, for the time I worked. I like JET's way of work, basically interacting with the students and not having to be a salesman. Like most of my worry is being able to handle myself in Japan alone. If I have guidance in the beginning then I would feel more confident.

I hear that some interac people work 50 hours a week but that's kind of against the contract. Hmm I should look up about the truth about AEON. I am actually not very used to wearing suits everyday since I was an art student and constantly worked in studio.

Do you think I should just go to the seminar for interac? or not bother? I am just wondering if I should simply stick with JET and not try for anything else then. I really messed up when I applied early for interac, because it makes it hard to become a backup plan.

I am just trying to figure out which company would be the smoothest in transition, and have a lot of support. probably eikawa in general doesn't have support, at least not like JET.

Ultimately my goal is to be conversationally fluent in Japanese so I can have a chance to work in Volks, because they do require some fluency.

Maybe I should do either JET or Grad school, instead of JET or Eikawa... just a little confused at this point.

October 2nd, 2008, 14:49
Oh and does anyone know if there's a blog I could google to get detailed information about their experience in interac?

October 2nd, 2008, 17:03
go through with interac until you need to sign a contract. put it off as long as they let you and hopefully you'll know more about jet by then. worst case scenario, what happens if you sign, something comes up (like a bunch of lies), and then you dont ship out? nothing, thats what.

October 2nd, 2008, 18:21
What to say about Interac...that's a good question. In a lot of ways, I suppose it depends on the particulars of your placement -- the old ESID answer. I worked for them for about four months in the Tokyo area, at four elementary schools (usually two per week, alternating pairs each week.) I actually enjoyed it, although it was quite tiring (4-5 classes per day as the main instructor.) Interac was certainly an annoyance, though. They hover just outside of the de facto primary relationship (you and the schools), complicating matters with a needless extra layer of bureaucracy. They do not care about the ALTs one bit. I quit when my JET offer came through after all. Two friends of mine from training are just about to quit as well; they just couldn't take the craziness any more. (In fairness, at least a significant part of that was due to the schools themselves, not Interac.)

The job position is in most cases identical to the JET position; you're an ALT. The main difference is that they have this outsourcing (gyomu itaku) arrangement, such that it's technically you working for Interac and Interac supplying you to the school. I think there's probably more stress than with JET on account of this cumbsersome arrangement. Also, they tend to be a bit higher-pressure: dropping in for random observations (often leading to rather nasty/threatening writeups) and generally treating you ... well, treating you as one would expect, given the business situation. But you're filling the same occupational slot that a JET participant would.

Their benefits are pretty shoddy, too, and quite likely illegally so. You -can- take out a loan from Interac, although an alternate avenue might be better. I'm not sure about taking out a loan from a Japanese bank; this may or may not be doable. I myself drew on savings from my previous (US) job.

At least for me (Branch 5, Tokyo), Interac wasn't awful...and I probably wouldn't have minded staying on with them for the full term. But I think JET is plainly better.

In terms of timing, I'm almost certain that you won't hear the final, post-interview word from JET before you need to physically relocate to Japan. However, you will (I think) know if you got an interview or not. I suppose you could base the decision on that. By the way, at least in the case of my group, we didn't actually sign a contract until we got to Japan and completed the initial training. (You do sign an "offer letter", but it is not the full employment contract.)

The route I took (work for Interac while awaiting word from JET) was in retrospect not exactly optimal, but it did work out just fine.

October 2nd, 2008, 18:49
The Interac guy in my town does exactly the same thing as the JET municipal ALTs do. There are two things that are different for him:

1. He gets paid less
2. He gets A LOT of time off during school vacations

Other than that, it is the same job and the same hours.

October 2nd, 2008, 20:22
That's true; with Interac, you don't have to report in to the BoE and sit at a desk during school vacations. (I still don't understand why they indulge in such a pointless exercise.)

October 2nd, 2008, 20:30
My BOE thankfully got that message and just declares all non-school days as "Self-study" periods. And we still get 20 days of nenkyuu.

October 2nd, 2008, 20:46
Thank you guys for the input. AEON doesn't seem too bad, it is just a job after all. But I don't understand why you wouldn't be paid overtime because it's not considered "teaching", and the working hours are around 1pm-9pm? That seems like a lot of hours, my class only lasted until 6pm in RISD and remembered being quite tired after that. Then again I stay up at night doing homework. AEON vacation time doesn't sound ideal.

Changing schools seems a lot of work, Wakatta, was your time with interac enjoyable or a bit like torture? Did you have a difficult time settling in? Could you give me some details on how you moved into the apartment and settled in? Did you buy furniture, or did you just buy the bare minimum and kind of used the floor as your work table? Did you have to buy kitchen supplies?

If you could can you tell me the difference when you first started with interac and also with JET?

Do you regret starting with interac then going with JET, or you think that was the best idea for you?

Right now the best I could do is probably postpone it until I hear back from JET in February for the interview.

I wonder if I could ask to choose to be an alternate or be on the waiting list for interac.

October 2nd, 2008, 20:50
8 hours work is a lot? you sound like an ideal JET candidate

October 2nd, 2008, 20:54
lol whoops I miscalculated it to be 10 hours instead of 8. I haven't slept yet...extremely nocturnal. and yes I know, really bad at math. But still isn't 8 hours a day considered full time instead of part time?

October 2nd, 2008, 21:53
Interac was certainly not torture, although it was a nuisance at times.

I think your move-in situation is going to vary a lot based on where you are. In many cases, though, Interac can set you up with a Leo Palace apartment; there's no big key money payment (although they ding you for about a month's rent if you quit within 6 months, because of a housing deposit), and they're usually pretty well furnished. (Although they're emptied out between occupants, so while microwaves and such are still there, you'll have to spend a hundred dollars or so on a bed, utensils, and the like. My IC helped me out by driving me around to get the bigger items.) I paid $600 for what I felt was a perfectly adequate apartment (albeit with a sucky entry-hall "kitchen") in the Tokyo area; I was paying over $700 in DC for just one room in a three-person shared apartment.

With JET, I was moving into the former ALT's residence, and lots of useful things (really, all one needs) was left over. But this is not -always- the case with JET. In short, there's no standard Interac vs. JET "housing package"...a lot of it depends on the area. In both cases, help is provided to deal with moving into a foreign country whose language you may not wield with sufficient proficiency to, say, understand a cell phone contract's terms. (Most people can only barely do that in their native language.)

Having 4 schools was a bit of a pain, but then, I think if anything JET tends to feature a larger number of schools. (I got a poll going here: http://www.ithinkimlost.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7426 ... but it seems to have been blanked for some reason, at least in my browser.) I think working JHS instead of elementary tends to minimize number of schools. (It's also generally a much less taxing work environment, which my lazy side kind of appreciates.)

What makes a day "tiring" or "long"? I think it's at least as much a matter of what you're doing (the nature of the work) as it is how long you do it. I would do 60+ hours a week at my job in the states during peaks, but since it was an office job, I could usually (barring rushes) take small breaks to clear my head as I needed them. I generally only worked from (I think?) something like 8:30-3:15 at the elementary schools, but that was just about entirely teaching class, which is a continual-pressure setting...often fun, but substantially more tiring than office work. On the other hand, while taxing in various ways, it really was rewarding: elementary kids are I think naturally much better language students than the average JHS kid, and despite the rarity of lessons (maybe once or twice per month), they picked up phonics and some other things that I hope will help them out later on.

In my view, the biggest drawback about working as an Interac ALT is ... well, Interac. It's this annoying and sometimes rather nasty (sometimes rather friendly and helpful) bureaucracy lurking in the corner. All in all, though, Interac itself is not make or break: it's really about how well you're able to adjust to your role as an ALT. And on the plus side, you basically get your choice of location, and I think pretty much also your choice of grade level (elementary vs. JHS).

October 3rd, 2008, 19:57
If you don't have money to set yourself up here I see no reason to go into debt just to be able to afford furnishing some tiny apartment in Japan that you'll only be in for a year while earning a fairly low salary. And who knows what kind of placement you will get. What if you turn up in a nightmare school where you are miserable all the time. Now you will be 5 grand in debt for the privilege of hating your job.

October 4th, 2008, 16:31
hmm yes, if it wasn't for the 2 months no pay, I would have a bit of an easier time to make a decision. They do however pay you back by the end of the one year term.

Gosh why can't I edit my misspelling on the heading? it's supposed to be "advise" sorry about that.