Category Archives: JET

Jet vs. Interac… FIGHT!

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Round 1: The Process

In my mind, this fight scenario is indicative of the fight between government-run and private run companies in Japan at present. I’m not much for politics in my own backyard, let alone a foreign nation but I can understand the importance of this battle. From what I gather, the recent political switch over that happened recently has sent Japan in a more private direction. Basically, the government will be made smaller, its many sub-company’s made private like the post offices and so on.

What does any of this have to do with JET and Interac? Everything. As I have viewed thus far, JET has been the reigning giant when it comes to the placement of ALT’s (Assistant Language Teachers). There are several factors that feed this such as being the best paid ALT job out there (for someone with no experience, new to the country, etc.) and loads of assistance from the company, both financial as well as psychological. It is, by far the most recommended, well funded, stable ALT placement company.

So why would anyone bother with Interac? Because if JET’s doors were any tighter to squeeze through, they’d be making diamonds from coal in there. The first and second times I applied to JET (2008 and 2009), the process began as early as late August/early September. I was informed of whether I was coming for an interview around December and then the actual interview was in the heart of NYC in mid February. THEN I waited another couple of months to find out I was put on the Alternate list (basically, if you’re on an alternate list, they want you but there just isn’t enough room on the short list for everyone). The application process alone is demanding. Attention to details, concise but informative answers, and getting that app in as early as possible is what’s going to get the win. The interview… I usually do well in those situations and I don’t think that I did poorly but I’m not a teacher. I have loads of experience working with children but not with pretend teaching with 3 stern interviewers. But they want the best of the best so I don’t blame them. Thankfully, for any new applicants they have now shortened the process by at least a month or so and I believe their eventual goal is to make it almost completely online based, like Interac. For now, expect to give them EVERYTHING up front in the application. There is no real back and forth. They evaluate everyone at one time and if you don’t measure up on paper first, they don’t even bother talking to you.

Like I explained in the previous post, Interac’s process was quick, to the point and fairly painless. Many of the questions and paper documents needed for visa and other things are not requested until the interview process is underway. And the interview doesn’t happen until you’re first screened over the phone by a recruiter after you’ve submitted the application online. I feel that these steps create a much less stressful experience. Much less time is wasted in this way. Something like this:

Applicant: “Hi, I’m interested in this position. Here is my resume and reference list.”  1 day to a couple of weeks pass

Recruiter: “Hi, you meet our basic requirements. I will now ask a series of questions to ensure you are competent…. Congratulations! You have passed the initial screening. Let’s setup an interview date.”  Several days to several weeks pass

Applicant: “I have come to this professional interview, prepared to perform under pressure for a video interview (to be sent to Japanese clients), interact with fellow applicants in a group setting, and interview privately. I conduct myself formally, expressively, and with confidence.” 3-4 weeks pass

Recruiter: “Congratulations once again! Here is your letter of an offer of employment. This is your estimated start date (either early April or July).”

I actually enjoyed the interview itself because it’s a group process all except for the 30 minute private interview at the end. It took all day for me since I opted to go next to last… because I’m such a nice person. Nearly 10 hours, not including drive time which was a hike. Still worth it. I hope I’ll get to meet some of my cohorts again at the orientation. All good people. It was almost comical because we all agreed that every single one of us there was good choice. Everyone had different strengths and weaknesses and we seemed to compliment each other very well.

In summary of the processes, JET can take anywhere from 11 to 16 months to finally get placed where as Interac takes a minimum of 6 and a max of 10 months to place. For Round 1, my winner is undoubtedly Interac. Stay tuned next time for Round 2: Placement.

With love – M

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T-50 days and counting

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Well… around 50 days. Whatever. It’ll be nice when I actually know my start date.

Excuse me, let me back up.

First, a little history: Back when I was a wee little tyke, I was exposed to lots of foreign art thanks to my grandparents. Two of them had traveled in Japan and the Philippines for the military following WWII. My subconscious became very fond of all things East Asian in nature and I would seek them out without realizing it. Historical art, crafts, food, candies, anime, kodo, whatever I could get my grubby little hands on. In highschool I heard about this magical little program that took kids out of college and flew them to the otherside of the world just to teach English in Japan. This program was/is the JET Program.

At the time, I was very much into art and had decided that was the direction I would head. I was ‘practical’ and did graphic design instead of fine art, however, thinking that somehow this would help me get to Japan. I honestly thought there was no way in hell I’d make into JET.

Along comes Elementary Japanese classes at a neighboring college my junior year. Tanaka-sensei was awesome. There are bad teachers, satisfactory teachers, good or great teachers, and then there are awesome teachers. She made this crazy reachable for me.  She advised me to apply for JET the following August. I was not in disbelief for very long. Instilling confidence was something she did very well.

I made it past the long process, past the interview stage and into the wretchedly painful “Alternate” basket. I waited and waited for that phone call or email in vain. But I am no mere schmuck to be put down after one attempt! Surely next time, I’m a sure-win! Surely not. Due to issues getting a doctors appointment late in the game, my application probably hit their doorstep right before they shut the doors and received little more than a skim read. Alas, that was enough for me. Time to move on into to real world.

Hark! What’s this? An old application I never finished with Interac back when I was weighing my options to get to Japan. Before, they were not at all appetizing but now… what the heck?! Why not? I’ve got nothing to lose. And I didn’t. I pwned that application for all it was worth. I got a call the very next day and was invited to their group interview in New York the following Saturday. ZING! I’ll discuss that process in a later post.

Weeks later, I was offered employment. Just recently I got my call about my placement and am currently awaiting my drop date. I feel like I’m in the aircorps or something.

I am PUMPED. Everyone’s saying they’re so happy and excited for me, excited to come visit me over there, and so on. I don’t think anyone’s as excited as I am. Achin’ for some adventure, I am. Not that I won’t miss home and everyone in it! Stop talkin’ crazy talk! But I don’t want to be 40 something down the road and SNAP one day because I never got this bug out of my system.

This has been the basic long lead up to the inception of this blog. As things progress I intend to throw in plenty of juicy links, information on applying, things to watch out for, situations I have avoided, people to make contact with, blah blah blah. Just pay attention and search for stuff in the side bar. I hope to have a photo page up with links to web albums and other things chronicling my adventures in the far east. Thanks for tuning in.

With love – M