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Thread: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

  1. #1

    Default Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    Hello everyone!

    I'm new here, and am going to be applying to JET for 2015. I'm quite excited about the prospect of going through the whole process and about the potential possibility of living and working in Japan as an ALT.

    I know applications are not up yet, but will soon be. One of the people from my areas consulate told me to look for it mid September.

    I've been lurking for the last few days, diligently looking over past information. I've even gotten started on a draft for the letter of intent and ordered most all my transcripts and birth certificate to have everything in order.

    I have put out my feelers for people to write reference letters for me. And I'm enrolled to take my last 5 credits for my degree this fall.

    I have been debating with myself on who from my school to ask for a reference letter since it appears since I will be enrolled in school that 1 needs to come from someone there. I am just returning to school after 4 year hiatus to complete my degree. So I'm not sure what the proper thing to do will be. Should I reach out to a past iinstructor in my major's department (theater) or ask the instructor I will be taking a course from this fall and see if she will be willing to do it? I have taken 2 other courses from her, and she is a cultural anthropologist whose area of focus is Japan. I'm not sure if one might hold more weight than the other.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?

    I apologize for the wall of text.

    TL;DR:
    Would an instructor from my theater major or my instructor whose focus is cultural anthropology of Japan be a better choice for a reference letter.

  2. #2
    Village Idiot RoflCopter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    The one that's going to write the best letter.

    To clarify - The one that knows you best; having a vague letter of reference isn't going to help your cause.


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    Last edited by RoflCopter; August 28th, 2014 at 11:46.

  3. #3
    keepin' it real ihatefall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    I second the opinion of who is going to write you the best letter. A teacher that is going to say you're a hard worker, you have a willingness to learn, adapt and that you're an overall pleasure to be around.

    If you took Japanese, one reference letter needs to come from one of your Japanese teachers (at least in years past it did.)

    You might get asked about why you took time off and what you did with that time. Start thinking about that now. (I did and I was briefly ask about it in my interview.)
    Everything I have ever said was a lie, and that's the truth.

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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    You don't need a letter from your Japanese instructor specifically, though I imagine in general that's the best choice if you're still in school.

  5. #5
    Feckless Manchild Otaku word's Avatar
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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    Agreeing with these guys, go with whoever will write the best letter, with a qualifier--Japanese are nuts about fancy titles; if one of your potential references has very fancy letterhead and a few fancy abbreviations after his or her name, I suspect that will help.

    I had two letters--one from the dean of my university who is also a dear friend, and wrote a fantastically eloquent, glowing letter, the other from a Japanese art teacher who didn't really know me that well but owed me a huge favor for editing and putting together all his tenure paperwork (his was all in Japanese and I couldn't read it, but a J-friend said it was "very nice" and described me as a perfect candidate). The dean's letter was on cool dean-related letterhead and looked awesome; the art teacher's letter was plain.
    Quote Originally Posted by 00Bear00 View Post
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    It's festivals days like these on which I really try really hard to make up for not partying in college.
    yeah, because who needs free flowing drugs and alcohol fueling adventorous sex with taut, lithe young bodies when you could wander around a dying town in the freezing cold with a can of asahi super dry in your hand while some toothless old farmer shouts at you.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    Thanks for the replies so far!

    I actually haven't taken a college Japanese class in almost 6 years, and that was in community college. I'm not sure if that would fall under the requirement for someone from my school, since it's a different institution than the one I will be obtaining my degree from. I will have to check with the JET coordinator on that one most likely.

    Thanks for reminding me about being prepared to answer why there is a gap in my education

    That I have thought about but haven't quite come up on a way to spin it positively, while being concise. The gap in school is due to me not passing a class (though marginally so, but failed none the less) and not being able to afford to go back to school the following quarter since I put myself through school on academic scholarships and working a little more than part time. Of course with the job market being the way it is in my area it's next to impossible to get a job above minimum wage without a Bachelor degree. So I haven't been able to afford to go back to school until now.

    So the answer to that potential question is still in the works.
    Last edited by fluffybunny; August 28th, 2014 at 23:17. Reason: spelling mistake... My proof reading on phones is terrible...

  7. #7
    Feckless Manchild Otaku word's Avatar
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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    Quote Originally Posted by fluffybunny View Post
    Thanks for reminding me about being prepared to answer why there is a gap in my education

    That I have thought about but haven't quite come up on a way to spin it positively, while being consice. The gap in school is due to me not passing a class (though marginally so, but failed none the less) and not being able to afford to go back to school the following quarter since I put myself through school on academic scholarships and working a little more than part time. Of course with the job market being the way it is in my area it's next to impossible to get a job above minimum wage without a Bachelor degree. So I haven't been able to afford to go back to school until now.

    So the answer to that potential question is still in the works.
    Don't stress. I had a similar gap and some not-so-hot grades. Do be prepared to talk about it, but I think that returning to school and finishing your degree can also reflect very positively on a candidate. Shows commitment, determination, maturity.
    Quote Originally Posted by 00Bear00 View Post
    When I read your post I suddenly feel like I am so far away from being crazy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Ananasboat View Post
    It's festivals days like these on which I really try really hard to make up for not partying in college.
    yeah, because who needs free flowing drugs and alcohol fueling adventorous sex with taut, lithe young bodies when you could wander around a dying town in the freezing cold with a can of asahi super dry in your hand while some toothless old farmer shouts at you.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    Quote Originally Posted by word View Post
    Agreeing with these guys, go with whoever will write the best letter, with a qualifier--Japanese are nuts about fancy titles; if one of your potential references has very fancy letterhead and a few fancy abbreviations after his or her name, I suspect that will help.

    I had two letters--one from the dean of my university who is also a dear friend, and wrote a fantastically eloquent, glowing letter, the other from a Japanese art teacher who didn't really know me that well but owed me a huge favor for editing and putting together all his tenure paperwork (his was all in Japanese and I couldn't read it, but a J-friend said it was "very nice" and described me as a perfect candidate). The dean's letter was on cool dean-related letterhead and looked awesome; the art teacher's letter was plain.

    The one reference I have lined up already once the documents go live is the director of a department for a very well known Japanese company's american subsidiary... So I'm hoping that will look good.

    The two instructors Im debating over, the anthropologist will probably have the better title andand possibly better letter if she remembers me once class begins. The other instructors official title is "costume shop manager" and she taught all the costume related courses.

    Would it be better that the anthropologist would be able to speak to my interest of fostering cultural relations, since her courses have all been geared towards that as well as her being previously aware of my volunteer contributions in my areas local area by helping to foster relations between the overall community and the Asian American community?

  9. #9
    keepin' it real ihatefall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    Sounds like you have a good grasp on this, you obliviously get that you can turn a negative into positive. As the Miami coordinator said (they post here from time to time) that older applicants tend to do well with these sorts of things because of their experience. Don't think of it as a disadvantage.
    Everything I have ever said was a lie, and that's the truth.

  10. #10
    ゴミ箱の女王 tobio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    I've been thinking about my reference letters a lot recently. One is definitely coming from a non-profit organization I'm doing a social media internship for but the professor one I'm a little lost on. I have one professor whom I had for four classes and was fairly close to but my grades in that class were less than stellar. I got an A+ in another class that I had three years ago but that's quite a ways away and I'm not sure if that prof would remember me so I'm stuck on whom to ask. I don't want to look like a complete idiot asking the three-years-ago prof for a reference letter only for her to not remember who I am and think I'm a dumbass for asking. It's a tough position.

  11. #11
    Feckless Manchild Otaku word's Avatar
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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    Some of my favorite students, students that I feel will be truly exceptionally successful adults, are not necessarily A+ students. I'd recommend talking to the closer prof, directly and honestly, and evaluating what sort of letter s/he would write.
    Quote Originally Posted by 00Bear00 View Post
    When I read your post I suddenly feel like I am so far away from being crazy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Ananasboat View Post
    It's festivals days like these on which I really try really hard to make up for not partying in college.
    yeah, because who needs free flowing drugs and alcohol fueling adventorous sex with taut, lithe young bodies when you could wander around a dying town in the freezing cold with a can of asahi super dry in your hand while some toothless old farmer shouts at you.

  12. #12
    ゴミ箱の女王 tobio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    Thanks for the advice, word. I think I'll do just that.

  13. #13
    Official JET Staff miamicoordinator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    Let me say one thing about Ref. Letters.

    Make sure the person you ask knows you well, and can write the most eloquent letter explaining why you would be a good fit for the JET Program.

    I can't tell you how many generic ref letters come across our desks. Ok great, Jon Doe was a good student, he works well with others, he excelled in your class. Thats it?? We want more than that.

    I do applaud you for trying to figure out who will write them for you now. Once the semester starts, Professors become very busy.
    Last edited by miamicoordinator; August 30th, 2014 at 04:54.

  14. #14
    ゴミ箱の女王 tobio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    On the topic of reference letters: I asked my preferred university professor for a reference letter but turns out she retired this year and is no longer affiliated with the university so she doesn't have access to letterhead or business cards. Dang.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    Quote Originally Posted by tobio View Post
    On the topic of reference letters: I asked my preferred university professor for a reference letter but turns out she retired this year and is no longer affiliated with the university so she doesn't have access to letterhead or business cards. Dang.
    She can get 'em. She doesn't want to, for one reason or another.
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  16. #16
    Ghost of Ecru SomePeopleJustSaySnow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    Quote Originally Posted by uthinkimlost? View Post
    She can get 'em. She doesn't want to, for one reason or another.
    Seconded. Be suspicious.
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    Old Snow wouldn't have said that.
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  17. #17
    ゴミ箱の女王 tobio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    Dang. Then I just suck. LOL. Oh well - I have others to ask.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    Quote Originally Posted by tobio View Post
    Dang. Then I just suck. LOL. Oh well - I have others to ask.
    I like you, Tobio. You've got gumption.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    Old Snow wouldn't have said that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zolrak 22 View Post
    You are like the secret boss battle they only advertised back when the game was being developed.

  19. #19
    ゴミ箱の女王 tobio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    Quote Originally Posted by SomePeopleJustSaySnow View Post
    I like you, Tobio. You've got gumption.
    6603dc5a9292104b44c349b85b5aaf7a-5-crazy-fan-theories-that-make-total-sense.jpg

  20. #20

    Default Re: Applying for 2015 - reference letter question.

    I'm bit worried about my own reference letters. I'm applying from Canada, and I graduated a while ago so I don't require an academic reference (nor am I still close enough with my instructors that they even know what I'm doing these days). One of my letters will be coming from my current managers, but I'm concerned about the second. There are no specific guidelines that I can find on the current application to indicate what kind of reference is necessary, so my plan (already partly into action) was to ask my best friend's mother; she's known me for a decade, understands my career goals, and her daughter completed a full five years on the JET Programme so she's aware of the rigours involved. However, the JET FAQ on the Toronto Consulate's website states that a reference MUST be professional or academic, not a friend; the JET FAQ on the Toronto Consulate's website hasn't been updated since 2009. Is this still true, and it just wasn't directly stated on the official application this year?

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