This post is for all those aspiring JETs out there who wish to apply for the 2016-2017 intake to the JET Programme. If you are a current/former JET, then please feel free to share this post with anyone you might think would be interested in applying. 🙂
Disclaimer: Just to note that I am writing this purely from my own perspective and experience as a South African JET. You are more than welcome to e-mail me questions, though in some cases it might be best to directly ask your coordinator at your Japanese embassy as application forms/rules do vary from country to country.
So as some of you may know, I do like to write about things (hopefully helpful, insightful things) relating to the JET Programme, and this time last year I wrote a similar post to do with applying, though I didn’t go into much detail and rather focussed on the Statement of Purpose essay. However, today I want to delve into the nitty-gritty that is the application form. This form can make or break your chances of proceeding to the next stage of interviews, as there are specific requirements that need to be met.
The application forms become available any time from September through to October. The forms can be found either through JET Programme websites, or on your country’s Embassy of Japan website. For example, the South African one can be found here. The deadline for the application form is usually around the end of November to the beginning of December, in the case of South Africa it is November 13th.
Additionally, depending on where you are applying, some forms can be filled in and submitted online, while others need to be printed out and sent via post. Since I had to go through the printing out and mailing option, I will focus on that as I don’t know how the online application process really works. From a quick glance I see that the Embassy of Japan in Jamaica (application now available!) and Australia also use printed out forms.
So, the application form…
Is very simple to understand, in my opinion, as detailed instructions on how to tackle the forms are provided. The important thing is that you must follow these instructions exactly as they are given. One misplaced paper, not filling everything in, or forgetting to add in a supporting document, and you could be disqualified. Your country may have specific requirements that other countries do not, so make sure to stick to what your application form requires, and do not worry about the others.
On a side note, I see now on the South African application form instructions they even show pictures of the type of paper clip you need to use to keep all the documents together! I mean, with those types of guidelines there is no way you can go wrong.
About supporting documents…
Certificates, proof of graduation, transcripts, and other such things are very important documents that do need to be certified. This is something that you can start collecting before the application form even becomes available. These may take time, especially if you need to request something from your university. In my experience the documents I required from my university took the longest… to the point that I could only submit my application form 3 days before the deadline! I do not recommend that level of stress to anyone. 😯
Your placement options…
In the form you are given the option to write down three prefectures where you would like to be placed. Some people don’t mind where they are placed, while others, like me, did research and decided that being somewhere where it doesn’t snow 8 months of the year would suit me best – so I looked to the south of Japan. It is up to you to decide how serious you want to be about requesting placements. My suggestion is to do a bit of research, see what the weather is like in your chosen area, if there are any particular places of interest you really want to be near to, if your home city has a sister city in Japan, etc.
If accepted onto the programme, there is a chance may not get your chosen prefecture, but I think the people at CLAIR do take your choices, and reasons for choices, into consideration. Hiroshima was my second choice, and I absolutely love it here – suits me perfectly!
Fill in everything…
On the application form, there are a lot of spaces where you might not need to write anything. In this case, put ‘N/A’. Every open space that requires some form of writing needs to be filled in.
At the same time, fill in as much as you can, especially under the work experience section. Any volunteer work or work that involved dealing with children/students, or education will be beneficial. Even if you tutored part-time, that will help strengthen your application.
Your level of Japanese…
Will be asked in the forms. Do not worry if you don’t have any experience of understanding or speaking the language. I didn’t have any, so I put ‘none’ for all the questions regarding Japanese, yet here I am. 🙂
Also, if you do put down a specific level of Japanese speaking or understanding, you might have to prove your abilities to the interviewers if you make it to the interview stage. I say this after reading other people’s experiences of the interview stage.
The reference letters…
Are very important, and it would be wise to tackle these as soon as possible as you don’t know how long it would take your referee to write them out. Some embassies have very specific requirements and guidelines for the letters, while other embassies (like South Africa) seem quite general. In my experience, I put together a page of information about the JET Programme and provided details to my referee as to what was required of them. I also looked at other embassy guidelines to get ideas as to what my referee could write about. By providing them with as much information and guidelines as possible, they were able to write the letters pretty quickly as they knew what needed to be done.
Your Statement of Purpose essay…
Last year I wrote a post about the essay, found here. However, I do plan to update it and post a second version of it soon. But in any case, this is something that may or may not have specific guidelines according to your country’s way of doing things. I recommend writing numerous drafts. First write anything and everything, and then start to whittle down what you deem is important. Eventually, you should get to the required 2 page limit. Easy, ne?
Good luck to all aspiring JETs! The application form is just the start of a long process, but it is worth it, believe me!