Tips for the JET application: Part 1

It’s October, which means the application for the 2011 JET Program will appear, and hundreds will start crawling the internet looking for tips and tricks to making their application stand out. As someone who went through the application twice, I thought I’d offer some word of wisdom.

Please keep in mind that I’m not any kind of JET insider and don’t have any secret info about the application process. I can only base this on my personal experience and stories I’ve heard from fellow JETs.

Tip 1, Get your sh!t together: The JET website already has a list of documents they want you to send with the application. Get going on this now, especially transcripts from study abroad (if you did). If you haven’t graduated yet, you’ll need some sort of “intent to graduate” form. My university told me to print out some BS thing online, and though I have no idea if that cost me an interview my first time applying, it probably didn’t help. Tell them you need a letter on university letterhead with a seal or signature from the registrar.

Tip 2, Your placement requests don’t matter (until they do): I’ve met plenty of people whose requests were Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto and still managed to make it on JET, so no, requesting big cities won’t earn your app an automatic trip to the round file. However if you get an interview, it’s very likely you’ll be asked why you picked a particular city or prefecture, so have a good reason for picking that place (or come up with one by interview time). Good reasons are: Did homestay there, hosted a Japanese person from there, your home town has a sister city/state relationship with that city/prefecture, your Japanese significant other is from there (by that I mean spouse, being engaged sometimes doesn’t cut it).

While I don’t think requesting a big city is gonna count against you, you can look at the data yourself (in the JET pamphlet) and see how likely it is you’ll be placed there. There’s 9 JETs in Tokyo (they ain’t in Shinjuku either, most of those JETs are on a tiny islands hundred of kilometers from Tokyo Bay), there’s also only 9 in Kanagawa-ken. Many major cities use private ALTs exclusively, so if you really have your heart set on Yokohama, JETs probably not for you. You might think you’re more likely to get your first choice if you choose a less “popular” prefecture, since not so many will request it. Not necessarily; I had a friend who requested Fukui, then ended up on Shikoku.

It’s just not worth stressing over placements since the Contracting Organization’s preferences (they can request that their JET be a certain gender and nationality) will take precedence over your requests anyway. Some towns always request a JET from a certain place because of sister city relationships, some placements are meant for couples, or for JETs bringing children.

So, pick wherever you want, try to have a good reason for that request, but be open-minded because they’re gonna place you where they place you. Or you can just not write down a placement request at all.

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So there are your first couple tips. Come back soon for advice on what to write for international experience, and the dreaded Statement of Purpose, spooky!

I’m more than happy to answer questions, so please leave a comment if you have any!

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2 thoughts on “Tips for the JET application: Part 1

  1. Hi Lauren! Your page has really been helpful, especially the bit about the Statement of Purpose. I think you’re right that it’s important to remember that while you must make yourself seem like the right person for the job, it isn’t an opportunity to write a memoir. A question about the SoP: I am not at all into anime/manga, etc., but I do love Japanese literature in the English translation as well as traditional Japanese art (especially Imperial). Do you think these kinds of things are worth mentioning, or will they just distract from my overall qualifications as a potential JET? Also, on placement: I am requesting Sapporo or anywhere in Hokkaido, really. I imagine that this colder location is probably a bit less popular, but do you have any idea if that is true? Thanks so much!

    • Hey Tori,
      Maybe you’ve already sent off your app, but I do think it’s well worth mentioning your interest in Japanese literature and art. I believe one of the many vague requirement for JET is a “genuine interest in Japanese culture” and interest in lit and art would certainly fit that requirement.
      You may be surprised how many people request Hokkaido, I think any place with some name recognition is going to a fairly popular request, and Sapporo is one of Japan’s largest cities, and well known for it’s beer and the snow fest. It’s sister-city is Portland, and JET loves that stuff, so there’s probably a number of JETs from Oregon in the area. Also, plenty of ski bums request the northern prefecture in hopes of being near some slopes. All that said, Hokkaido does have the most JETs of any prefecture, so I’m sure anyone who requests it has a decent chance of being placed there.
      I just have to advise against setting your heart on one place too much, every year, I see too many people on the message boards go on and on about how much they want Dokodoko prefecture, then being all but heartbroken when they don’t get it.
      Now it’s the long wait until they announce who gets interviews, good luck to you!

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