TACKLING THE JET PROGRAM APPLICATION (Part Four: the Statement of Purpose)

G’day Blokes and Sheilas! It’s a cold day here in San Antonio (where we don’t use words like ‘bloke’ or ‘sheila’, wtf?). My life has been pretty busy lately, but I figured that I’d write another post for those who are looking to apply to the JET Program for the 2014 intake! 

 First, let me start by saying that the deadline for the JET Application has been extended to DECEMBER 3rd, 2013! This is unprecedented and awesome for those applicants who want to make sure that their application is airtight and perfect! 

 In my last entries, I’ve talked about the application itself. This time, I want to focus on that two-page essay to end all essays: The Statement of Purpose. 

 Now, for me, the SoP was the hardest part of the whole application. As far as your total score goes, the SoP counts for quite a bit of it. It’s the only chance that you’ll have to really sell yourself as a worthwhile candidate. No pressure, right? Don’t worry, as long as you’re succint and eloquent in what you want to get across, you’ll have no problem. 

 What’s that? You aren’t? Don’t worry, I’m not either. Anyone who has read my rambly-ass blog posts knows that I, too, am far from succint and eloquent. My main problem was that the SoP can only be two pages double-spaced. That’s nothing. After many many many drafts, I finally came up with one that I was happy with and sent it off to DC. 

 Here are some tips that helped my verbose self write an effective (or so I assume) Statement of Purpose: 

 – Don’t ramble. Don’t try to take the reader on a journey and paint a story for them. The people reading these essays read dozens of them every day. Cut the flowery language, metaphors and whatever else takes up too many words. Be straightforward and to the point. 

– Don’t be cliché. If you’re mentioning why and how you ‘fell in love with Japan and its culture’, make sure you avoid being cheesy or trite. ‘My grandma had a vase from Japan in her house and I loved it since the day I set eyes on it…’ makes for a pretty weak-ass reason to have become interested in an entire culture and country. You can’t expect the people reading these essays to buy fluff and bullshit, they do this for a living and are ruthless

– Don’t use any Japanese writing in your essay. Not only do the instructions say ‘in English‘ in bold letters, but it can also really screw up your formatting and cost you valuable space. It won’t ‘prove you can speak 日本語 really 上手’ and it will just make your essay look strange. Trust me, this is one gimmick that will not go over well. 

– Don’t make it all about your wants. ‘I would love to learn Taiko’, ‘I would love to climb Mt. Fuji’, ‘I would love to see the cherry blossoms in the spring’, ‘I would love to visit the Peace Museum in Hiroshima’. This is all well and good, but it’s a bit selfish, don’t you think? JET doesn’t want to hear about what you want to do IN the country they’re sending you to, they want to hear about what you can do FOR the country they’re sending you to. Although it is an essay about you, I would recommend highlighting the skills and qualifications you have that would benefit those around you. Not just what you hope to accomplish and check off of your bucket list while there. 

– Do explain yourself. ‘I want to teach kids English!’ Well, that’s great. So do 5000 other people who are also applying this year. Why do you want to do so? Make sure you explain yourself and answer the question of why you want to do this program. Be thoughtful and honest in your answer. 

– Do be interesting. If you have an interesting tie to Japan, mention it! As long as it’s not about your grandma’s vase. 

– Do highlight any relevant experience you have and make yourself sound awesome! Can you play the guitar or another instrument? Awesome! Are you trained in a martial art or have you played a certain sport for a long time? Boom! Were you in acting for several years? Nice! Can you speak five languages and Pig Latin on top of it? Great!

– Do ask for feedback from other people. I found this was very helpful for me – especially asking former/current JETs. Just keep in mind that after everything, it is ultimately YOUR essay, so do what you think feels comfortable and right. Also, read it out loud to make sure it flows well. 

Those are all the tips that I can think of right now! I hope that I’m able to help at least one person! Let me just throw out a disclaimer that these are all just my opinions and I’m not associated with JET nor do I have *~*~*~iNSiDe KnOwLeDgE~*~*~* about the secret workings of the program. 

 Until next time! Happy applying! And happy Thanksgiving to those in the states celebrating it this week! 🙂 

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4 thoughts on “TACKLING THE JET PROGRAM APPLICATION (Part Four: the Statement of Purpose)

  1. Wow, there is so much to applying to the JET program. I’ve known people who taught in Japan under JET but I never knew there was so much to it. I’m sure your posts are really helpful to those looking to get in. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!

  2. I would also add “be honest (within reason)”. I wrote out my entire SOP and was about to send it when I had serious second thoughts. As I was rereading it, I realized it sounded nothing like me. It sounded like a frilly school essay sucking up to the teacher to get a good grade. So I ended up gutting the whole thing and just writing from the heart. The product was something a lot more honest and down to earth. And now I have an interview next week. 🙂

    Course I wouldn’t mention that you were an anime otaku for five years or that you cosplay or LARP in your free time (I don’t but I’ve heard of JET hopefuls who have). There’s a line you shouldn’t cross in applying for job. Heh.

  3. That’s a great point! I’m sure the people who read the SoPs know how to spot when someone is just filling their essay with fluff. If you keep it real and honest, like you said, it’s sure to be better than anything you try to write in order to appeal to what you THINK they want to hear.

    And yeah, stuff like that are mostly hobbies and interests that don’t really relate to the skills you can bring to JET. (Although I’m sure LARPing can provide one with some pretty cool skills).

    Congrats on your interview! 😀 Best of luck!

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