TACKLING THE JET PROGRAM APPLICATION (Part 4 1/2): So you didn’t get an interview…

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Hello again, JET hopefuls! By now, you’re probably aware that interview results have been released for the US! Did you check them?!

If you’re among the lucky ones whose seven-digit application number appeared in that eight-page document, CONGRATULATIONS! You’re one step closer to becoming a JET. You’ll soon be on your way to the consulate to plead your case as to why you should go to Japan and teach English! Hang tight because I plan to have a post about the JET interview soon.

But what about if your number wasn’t on the list?

First let me start by saying, I’m truly sorry. A lot of applicants who apply to JET are super excited about the possibility of doing it. It’s an exciting thing. But when it doesn’t work out, it can be pretty crushing.

If you were one of the ones who didn’t make it this year, this post is for you.

Know that I understand exactly how you feel.

During my second semester at uni, I saw a pamphlet for the JET Program. I instantly fell in love with the idea and decided that I would work toward the goal of going to Japan to teach English after I graduated. As my senior year came to a close, I meticulously (even neurotically) crafted my application. I made sure that my p’s, q’s, i’s and t’s were dotted, crossed and whatever the hell else they needed to be.

I asked two people to write my letters of reference. I wrote, re-wrote and re-re-wrote my Statement of Purpose. I pored over forums and blogs written by current and former JETs. I was pretty intense about it.

So imagine my shock the following month when I stared at the interview result screen in front of me and didn’t see my number.

I have no shame in saying that it hit me really hard. It was a slap in the face that knocked those gleaming stars out of my eyes. That night, I definitely cried. I remember having to tell my family that no, I hadn’t gotten an interview. My friends, too. Hell, all the people who had heard me chattering nonstop about this awesome thing I was planning to do. I had to explain to them that nope, I didn’t get an interview. It was awkward for them and embarrassing for me.

As I picked myself up, my mind was filled with so many questions: What had I done wrong? What could I have done better? Were they even looking for someone like me? The most frustrating thing was that there were no answers – at least, no concrete ones.

I wandered for a few days, the rejection setting in like a haze over my head. I had foolishly placed all my eggs in the JET basket…and look where it had gotten me.

But then I realized something.

It sucks to get rejected by a PDF document. It sucks even worse to not really know why. But I was letting the fact that I didn’t get an interview sour my mood and ruin my days. I realized that the only thing that could be shittier than being rejected by a PDF document is letting it affect me so much. I decided that I was done wallowing in self pity and angst.

The best thing to do is pick yourself up, put a smile on your face and keep on going. JET may seem like the perfect thing for you after college or wherever you currently are in your life. But just because it didn’t work out this time doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up about it too much.

I found that, in my year following the JET rejection, I had a great time. I was able to enjoy working at my job for another year, I got to hang out with friends, made a bunch of new ones,  acted in a local theater, and volunteered to be a reading tutor at a local elementary school. Most importantly, I got to snuggle with my cat for another year.

The following year I applied to JET, made it in and had an amazing experience! To be honest, I doubt I would have had such a great time if I had made it in the first time I applied.

So please don’t look at this as the end of the road. Take time for yourself and reflect on your good qualities – just because JET didn’t say yes doesn’t mean that you’re not still awesome at X, Y and Z.

Assess where you might have gone wrong in the application, but don’t obsess over it. There’s really no way of knowing with certainty where you went wrong. Try to  think of what you can do to better it for next year (if you decide to apply again). I also strongly recommend getting involved in your community by volunteering etc.

And if you don’t think you’ll be able to wait another year, there are always other ways to get to Japan. Interac, Peppy Kids Club and other private companies hire throughout the year.

I wanted to write this because I haven’t really come across any blogs or articles that deal with this subject explicitly.

I hope this post helped a bit. I wanted to tell my story and let those who may be hurting know that I’ve been there and I know how it feels. I’ve experienced staring at the screen after having Ctrl F-d and finding that my number wasn’t there. It felt like a Ctrl Slap right to my face.

It can be hard, but just keep moving forward. It’s definitely not the end.

Until next time!

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