The JET Application Process – The Actual Application

Hello Everyone! Jen C. here. I figured I should type something out about how exactly one goes about getting into JET Program, since it’s relatively fresh in my mind (though the nightmares have stopped). The JET website has big bold letters that say that the process might change slightly for 2011, so don’t take my information as law. Quadruple-check everything you do with the JET website.

First thing’s first. The JET Application process starts in October. Become very good friends with this website. You will be seeing a lot of the hastily thrown together layout. The very first thing you want to do is get to your professors or employers in order to get letters of recommendation (though don’t do this before the process starts). You only need two. I got one from my department head and another from my employer. DO NOT DO WHAT I DID. I waited until the last minute to ask. You want to give them enough time to think out exactly how to best present you to the JET Program. Make sure you let them know that their letters must be in sealed envelopes and there must be one original and two copies in each envelope. Also make sure to give them this form, which should also go into the envelope. I had both of my references sign along the seal of the envelope for good measure. They should give you the envelopes so that you can send them with your application

Now that that nightmare’s out of the way, you can focus on the application itself. It’s a monster of an application, but thankfully you can fill all of the information out online and it will spit out a PDF file for you to print when you are done. SAVE THAT FILE. I suggest making a specific folder on your computer of all of the JET stuff you will need. You will need three copies of this (one original with your signature and two copies. You’ll begin to notice a pattern as we go). As far as the content of the Application Form, it really is just a bunch of facts and information (residence, jobs, major in college, experience, etc.). It will turn out being several pages long (double-siding is ok). What you need to focus on when it comes to selling yourself is next.

The next nightmare you have is the “Statement of Purpose.” This is essentially a 1-2 page essay (mine was two) about why you want to be in the JET Program and why they should pick you. Think back to when you applied to college. That’s what this is. What the JET Program is looking for is not a huge enormous giant passion for Japan (which might actually work against you in some cases), but instead someone who is looking to promote cross-cultural understanding and internationalization between your home country and Japan. When the JET Program was started in the 80s, new JETs in rural areas were met with stares from old people and perhaps screams from children. What the JET Program has done since then has allowed for people in rural areas of Japan to interact with someone from a different culture. Use this to your advantage in your Statement of Purpose. If you come across as someone who just wants to live in Japan and assimilate with the Japanese and not retain their own culture, you probably will not get in (even though there is really nothing wrong with doing so). You are to be the token foreigner.

Something else to consider with the Statement of Purpose is to list any, and I mean any, relevant experience you might have with teaching. I listed that I was a tutor for Japanese language and that I really enjoyed seeing people excel, no matter how long it took. I also listed my experience at a Girl Scout camp when I was in high school, when my group was in charge of very young day-camper. Put the most effort into your Statement of Purpose. You will rewrite it, rearrange it, delete chunks of it, but make sure there are no huge typos (like there probably are in this post). Send it to someone you know has experience hiring new employees (I picked my dad). They have secret knowledge. And take their advice, even if the changes seem trivial.

Aside from those three things, the other forms are pretty simple. You need three copies of some identification (birth certificate, passport, or naturalization papers), transcript, proof of graduation, proof of study abroad, and your self-assessment medical form. These are all pretty basic to obtain. I used my passport, since my birth certificate lives at home with my parents. Your transcript and proof of graduation are available from your Registrar’s office and proof of study abroad is available from your Off Campus Studies office (it’s really just a signed note from someone in the office). The self-assessment medical form in included in your actual application and will be spat out in the same PDF file. If you’ve every been in the hospital for extended periods of time or have had a serious illness, you will need to also get a physician’s form filled out. This is available from your college’s health center or from any hospital for a small fee.

Additionally if you have certification for TEFL or TESL, include the certification. I do not, so I cannot comment on this aspect.

And we’re done! Sweating yet? When all of this has been completed, you want to put it in an envelope with 3 copies of EVERYTHING and send it (with one {only one} self-addressed and stamped envelope) to Washington DC. If you live really far from DC, I suggest sending it at least 1.5 weeks in advance, 1 week if you live closely. I sent mine overnight because I’m stupid and didn’t finish it until the day before. Get delivery confirmation and check the USPS website to make sure it gets there. JET can be pretty unforgiving when it comes to late applications. Alternately you could make your way to the Japanese Embassy and hand it to them yourself, but the mail system is pretty reliable.

Stay tuned for the next episode: The Waiting Game and Preparing for Your Interview, a two part-special!

– Jen C.


Jennifer Cammarn graduated from Gettysburg College in 2010 with a BA in Japanese Studies. She served on JET Programme as an ALT and is teaching in Hakuba, Nagano, site of the ski jump, downhill, and cross country ski competitions in the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

About Hakuba Jen

I'm teaching English to high school students in Hakuba, Japan on the JET Program. Proud owner of two cats, both of which are nearly 3 years old
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3 Responses to The JET Application Process – The Actual Application

  1. Pingback: Why Apply for JET? (With a focus on the ALT position) « What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?

  2. Pingback: ESL Job Application Differences: Japan and Korea « What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?

  3. Pingback: Applying to JET as a CIR, Part 2 | What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?

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