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Thread: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

  1. #1

    Default Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Hello everyone! I've been trying to join for some time but the registration problems inhibited me. :P

    First off, a little about myself and why I'm here! I'm a JET hopeful who is trying to have the best possible change at being accepted for the 2016-2017 program (but you probably knew that without even reading this!). I've been helping international students with English for 11+ years, just got my TEFL from i-to-i, and just returned from teaching English at a university in Italy for a semester. I feel JET is the next stage in life for me. I have a lot of experience with one-on-one tutoring but I only have my Italian University experience for classroom experience.

    I am going to Japan from 1-19 October and was curious what I could do there to help my chances of being accepted. I was thinking to visit some schools and connect with some teachers/professors and maybe even visit CLAIR. Is this advisable? I've heard that during the interview if you can show that you have been networking with current teachers it looks great.

    Everyone here knows quite a bit more about this than I do, so I was curious what you guys think!

    I'm looking forward to participating around the forum!

  2. #2
    Crustacean Sensation Ebi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Forgive me if I'm wrong, but it seems like you're not really aware of how JET operates. JET hires ALTs (assistant language teachers) from abroad and matches them primarily with BOEs (Boards of Education). The majority of these positions are in rural ES, JHS, or HS. I've never heard of a university that hires through JET. You may have just one school or more than 10. It's completely luck of the draw where in the country you'll end up and what your situation will be like. So trying to make connections now would be futile. Furthermore, the schools themselves have no say in who gets hired, although they can make requests for certain preferences (language ability, country of origin, gender, etc.) The people who make the hiring decisions are based in your country/state's local Japanese consulate.

    Also, I think you might want to reconsider if JET would even be a step up for you. ALTs are assistants, not "real" teachers. ALTs are not legally allowed to teach a classroom on their own and responsibilities can vary from "human tape-recorder" to "does everything because the JTE (Japanese teacher of English) is overwhelmed/lazy". Considering that the hiring process takes nearly a year to complete, if you start looking for work now you could probably get hired much sooner.

    With your credentials an experience, why not look for a direct-hire position within Japan instead of taking time to do JET? What are the circumstances of your visit in October? You're not technically supposed to look for work if you're on a tourist visa but if you're plan for this trip is to "make connections", then you'd be better off introducing yourself to private schools and seeing if they're willing to sponsor a visa. How is your Japanese speaking ability? That can make a big difference if you're looking for schools on your own.
    Last edited by Ebi; August 30th, 2015 at 17:22.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Quote Originally Posted by Ebi View Post
    Forgive me if I'm wrong, but it seems like you're not really aware of how JET operates. JET hires ALTs (assistant language teachers) from abroad and matches them primarily with BOEs (Boards of Education). The majority of these positions are in rural ES, JHS, or HS. I've never heard of a university that hires through JET. You may have just one school or more than 10. It's completely luck of the draw where in the country you'll end up and what your situation will be like. So trying to make connections now would be futile. Furthermore, the schools themselves have no say in who gets hired, although they can make requests for certain preferences (language ability, country of origin, gender, etc.) The people who make the hiring decisions are based in your country/state's local Japanese consulate.

    Also, I think you might want to reconsider if JET would even be a step up for you. ALTs are assistants, not "real" teachers. ALTs are not legally allowed to teach a classroom on their own and responsibilities can vary from "human tape-recorder" to "does everything because the JTE (Japanese teacher of English) is overwhelmed/lazy". Considering that the hiring process takes nearly a year to complete, if you start looking for work now you could probably get hired much sooner.

    With your credentials an experience, why not look for a direct-hire position within Japan instead of taking time to do JET? What are the circumstances of your visit in October? You're not technically supposed to look for work if you're on a tourist visa but if you're plan for this trip is to "make connections", then you'd be better off introducing yourself to private schools and seeing if they're willing to sponsor a visa. How is your Japanese speaking ability? That can make a big difference if you're looking for schools on your own.
    Hi Ebi. Thank you for your reply and I apologize for being a little unclear about some things. I didn't want to spend a lot of time talking about myself and mainly get to my main point. I'll happily provide a little more information about myself.

    i graduated from university last year and have plans to pursue my masters overseas. Eventually I would like to work in the State Department or another international organization. I've been interested in Jet since high school and thought it would be a great to do in between my bachelors and masters. I've always loved teaching English to others, which plays a part in it as well.

    I am also applying for a Fulbright scholarship to Korea (though Jet is my #1), which has been very rigorous. From what I have seen, both programs are quite prestigious and would really look great on a graduate school application. On the Fulbright checklist and from a few friends, they have said that it is important to make connections with current teacher abroad as it shows that you are truly interested in learning about the position beforehand. I agree with you in that networking wouldn't really help with my application, but could show that I'm really interested!

    I've already invested a lot of time in both of my applications so I would love to see them through. The experience and programs look great and while I might be able to find a better paying private opportunity, I really like what I have heard about Jet.

    Oh, and my Japanese skills are very poor, unfortunately.

    Thank you for your comment!

  4. #4
    Crustacean Sensation Ebi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Quote Originally Posted by Mouri View Post
    i graduated from university last year and have plans to pursue my masters overseas. Eventually I would like to work in the State Department or another international organization. I've been interested in Jet since high school and thought it would be a great to do in between my bachelors and masters. I've always loved teaching English to others, which plays a part in it as well.
    Ah, this makes more sense. If you're just looking to do something during your gap year, JET isn't a bad choice.

    On the Fulbright checklist and from a few friends, they have said that it is important to make connections with current teacher abroad as it shows that you are truly interested in learning about the position beforehand. I agree with you in that networking wouldn't really help with my application, but could show that I'm really interested!
    While that might be true of Fulbright, JET is more interested in cultural exchange, experience working with kids, and flexibility. I don't think networking will aid your application outside of the two required letters of recommendation. I recommend spending your time in Japan using Japanese as much as possible and getting a taste of what daily life would be like if you lived there. Being able to talk about a cultural misunderstanding you overcame during your visit to Japan would do much more for your chances than being able to name-drop a professor you met at some random school.

    I am also applying for a Fulbright scholarship to Korea (though Jet is my #1), which has been very rigorous. From what I have seen, both programs are quite prestigious and would really look great on a graduate school application.
    Honestly, if you get accepted for both then I'd probably recommend the Fulbright scholarship over JET. While a JET experience won't hurt your resume (unless you stay too long and don't develop skills while you're there) I think Fulbright would be more prestigious. But I think I'm biased since the only Fulbright scholar I know personally was super competent, and coincidentally also applied to JET but turned it down to do Fulbright, meanwhile JETs seem to be hit or miss which damages my perception of the programs "prestige".

    Oh, and my Japanese skills are very poor, unfortunately.
    That's not a deal-breaker. A lot of people come with little to no Japanese. But picking up some basic phrases and learning katakana/hiragana will help a lot.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    The Fulbright program is far and away more prestigious than JET. JET is only really prestigious to people who have no experience with the program, especially internal experience. Although the cult of AJET/JETAA is pretty strong.

  6. #6
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Ya I wouldn't blame someone for wanting fulbright on their resume rather than JET. Seems like a smart thing to me.

    And ya, no amount of networking is really gonna help you get on JET other than help fix your application itself.
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    Organising anything with ALTs is like herding cats on catnip

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    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    1. Networking and schmoozing will not help your JET application in anyway.

    2. You are overqualified for JET. Not that you wouldn't have a great time, but heed the advice of those warning about the fact that you will be an assistant. Often even less than that. If you are truly ok taking a backseat in the classroom and often not having much meaningful work to do daily, then by all means give it a shot.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Thank you everyone for your responses. While I am aware that Fulbright is more prestigious overall, JET takes place in Japan and I've always been quite a bit more interested in Japan than I have been South Korea (where I am applying for my Fulbright). I also really like the position of CIR, which I could work towards over 1-2 years with JET as an option (I performed essentially the functions of a CIR in Italy minus teaching government employees and really, really enjoyed it).

    It's nice to know that while in Japan I can mainly focus on enjoying the culture, practicing the language, and maybe even noting a few places I wouldn't mind living (to put on my top three list for JET) and not worry about trying to meet quite a few people. It could be helpful down the road, but I think I'll listen to you guys and not worry about it too much for now.

    I'm hoping that I get accepted to just one of the two programs so I don't have to decide because it's already a really difficult decision for me!

  9. #9
    Senior Member GodInStrafeMode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Quote Originally Posted by Mouri View Post
    Thank you everyone for your responses. While I am aware that Fulbright is more prestigious overall, JET takes place in Japan and I've always been quite a bit more interested in Japan than I have been South Korea (where I am applying for my Fulbright). I also really like the position of CIR, which I could work towards over 1-2 years with JET as an option (I performed essentially the functions of a CIR in Italy minus teaching government employees and really, really enjoyed it).
    Do fullbright now, apply as a CIR later?
    Best of both worlds really...
    Last edited by GodInStrafeMode; September 7th, 2015 at 15:39.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Quote Originally Posted by Mouri View Post
    I also really like the position of CIR, which I could work towards over 1-2 years with JET as an option (I performed essentially the functions of a CIR in Italy minus teaching government employees and really, really enjoyed it).
    It's incredibly rare to get into a CIR position from an ALT just fyi. I definitely wouldn't make that your intent with JET since there's no room at all to move up in this program once you're in one position. I'm not a CIR, but I know you have to have superb language skills, since one of your major jobs would be translating... and your kanji really won't get THAT good within just 1-2 years of living here lol. At one of our info sessions before I left this year, we talked with a guy who went from ALT to CIR and he warned us that his case really never happens. Honestly I'm curious how he was able to do it, because he must have jumped through a ton of hoops somehow.... Also, he had like 6 years of Japanese experience prior to going on JET or something crazy like that.

    But yeah, moral of the story is, focus on applying as an ALT and don't expect to be able graduate to CIR at any point in your contract.

  11. #11
    Senior Member GodInStrafeMode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Some prefectures DO scout CIRs (that will also act as prefectural PAs) from their ALT pool though. But yeah, in most cases it isn't going to happen.
    Why not do the scholarship/ get your Japanese up to scratch and then apply as a CIR from the get go (i.e. basically what I said in my last post)?
    Last edited by GodInStrafeMode; September 10th, 2015 at 09:09.
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  12. #12

    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Quote Originally Posted by GodInStrafeMode View Post
    Some prefectures DO scout CIRs (that will also act as prefectural PAs) from their ALT pool though. But yeah, in most cases it isn't going to happen.
    Why not do the scholarship/ get your Japanese up to scratch and then apply as a CIR from the get go (i.e. basically what I said in my last post)?
    Yeah, for sure but even on the off-chance you do get a placement that scouts within the ALT pool, you're gonna need some bomb Japanese. He said he has poor Japanese skills, so I don't think going from basic or no Japanese will graduate to government document translation level in one or two years haha. Like people keep saying, he's definitely overqualified for an ALT, but if his goals are basically just improving Japanese and cultural immersion, it's way more than doable as an ALT. Just don't get trapped on this website on your downtime and study/talk to people instead. :P

  13. #13
    Senior Member mothy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Quote Originally Posted by weepinbell View Post
    Just don't get trapped on this website on your downtime and study/talk to people instead. :P
    Hey, I'll have you know I studied for 20 minutes and said ohayo gozaimasu to at least 2 coworkers today, despite being on this website all day.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Quote Originally Posted by GodInStrafeMode View Post
    Some prefectures DO scout CIRs (that will also act as prefectural PAs) from their ALT pool though. But yeah, in most cases it isn't going to happen.
    Why not do the scholarship/ get your Japanese up to scratch and then apply as a CIR from the get go (i.e. basically what I said in my last post)?
    That's true. My prefecture did this to replace a CIR/PA. However it was quite obvious they kind of pre-selected who they were going to take even though technically "anyone" could apply.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Quote Originally Posted by patjs View Post
    That's true. My prefecture did this to replace a CIR/PA. However it was quite obvious they kind of pre-selected who they were going to take even though technically "anyone" could apply.
    Just like private hire - they have to advertise the opening, even if they already chose a candidate for the position.

  16. #16
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Yeah, Chiba always chooses their supreme ruler CIR/PA from existing ALTs as they say you need some local knowledge first before taking on the job.
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Quote Originally Posted by GodInStrafeMode View Post
    Do fullbright now, apply as a CIR later?
    Best of both worlds really...
    As much as I absolutely love this suggestion, I don't think my one year of Korean from Fulbright would be much use in Japan. :P

    Great to hear that CIR is really hard to get, especially being an ALT beforehand. I'll still work towards it if accepted into the ALT position but won't make it my dream (yet). My long term goal is mainly to participate for 1-2 years and then go for my Masters.

    Quote Originally Posted by weepinbell
    Yeah, for sure but even on the off-chance you do get a placement that scouts within the ALT pool, you're gonna need some bomb Japanese. He said he has poor Japanese skills, so I don't think going from basic or no Japanese will graduate to government document translation level in one or two years haha. Like people keep saying, he's definitely overqualified for an ALT, but if his goals are basically just improving Japanese and cultural immersion, it's way more than doable as an ALT. Just don't get trapped on this website on your downtime and study/talk to people instead. :P


    Heeey, you never know! I could come out in 1-2 years completely fluent. xD I'm trying to study as much as possible right now but also plan for my Japan trip in three weeks, learn some basic Korean for my Fulbright interview in two weeks, while maintaining the Italian I acquired. So yeah....my head is a jumbled mess of languages!

  18. #18
    Senior Member GodInStrafeMode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    The chances of you becoming 'fluent' in 1-2 years is highly unlikely but hey, no one ever said you can't dream right?
    Honestly I think you've gotten all the advice you are going to get out of this thread and anything we tell you after this point is just going to fall on deaf ears.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: Connections to Establish Prior to and After the Application Deadline

    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    Yeah, Chiba always chooses their supreme ruler CIR/PA from existing ALTs as they say you need some local knowledge first before taking on the job.
    I think the requirements were basically "Are you friends with Panda?"

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