Earlier today JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching Program) announced the results of those who passed the initial screening process to go onto the interview phase. My head spun through many different scenarios as I clicked on the ID list, but nothing could prepare me for what was to happen next… okay, maybe I don’t need to be so dramatic. Because with a 1 in 6 acceptance rate there was never much of a chance for me getting accepted to this over-prestigious program in the first place. I was hopeful and confident due to my extensive knowledge of the English language not just as a native speaker but a “linguist” as well, and my comprehension of Japanese also isn’t half bad either. I’ve also studied abroad in Japan before and have even had some experience tutoring English in the classroom. That said… no dice.
What does this mean? It can certainly drain you of energy and motivation when you have such high hopes for something only to run out of gas before you have a chance to even start the engine. But, like all good drivers do before embarking on a long journey it’s always crucial to have extra tanks of gas and spare tires on hand, ready to go. Okay, I’m done with the cliche car analogy. What’s important here is to remember that getting rejected from JET is not the apocalypse, it doesn’t mean you’re not good enough, and it certainly doesn’t indicate that you have no ability to pursue a job in this field so get all that out of your head.
Applying to JET can be a hit and miss situation. I’ve seen people from both sides of the spectrum, some with zero experience in Japanese culture, language, and teaching, and others with a lot of experience in those things get accepted. The bulk of getting into the program is how you write your essay and while having teaching experience seems to be a major plus, they’re going to read that essay you write and get the biggest impression of your personality and skill set from that. With an extremely low acceptance rate however, you aren’t going to get rejected because you’re unqualified for the position but because someone better qualified applied.
People see JET as their only way to get to Japan and when they don’t make it they think the job hunt ends there. In reality, there are many English teaching and assistant English teaching jobs in Japan, and on top of that there are quite a few companies that look for overseas applicants and sponsor their visas so that they can work in Japan. JET is really a unique program that is sponsored by the Japanese government and it has the biggest salary in the world of assistant language teaching in Japan which is why it’s so competitive. People want in.
So what do you do when you don’t get accepted? Well, you suck it up and move on. Harsh, I know. But the time you spend sulking about not getting into the most competitive program in the country could be time spent searching for other jobs. With the internet as a resource finding a job in Japan is so easy that all you have to do is search for a couple keywords like “English teaching jobs in Japan” or “Companies that hire assistant language teachers in Japan” and results will come flying in.
Since before I had even sent my application into JET back in November I had begun searching for alternatives, what their application process is like, and what they require. It’s important to do your research before applying or accepting any job offer from a company in Japan. Read reviews, both positive and negative, and also research the legitimacy of the company. There’s something called “black company” (ブラック企業) which is a term used to basically describe sketchy corporations or businesses with low-quality employee care or company service. In your research you want to specifically avoid applying to these as they are no good.
Something I’ve had to do as a result of getting rejected from JET is to not let it set me back or discourage me, but rather I’ve taken it as a experience to learn from and improve as I apply to other jobs.