Friday, October 26, 2012

The JET Program: The Application

In the midst of completing my final year of graduate school, I applied for the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. It was no surprise to my friends and family, because they knew about my previous studies in International Relations and Asian Studies and well as my study abroad experience in Kyoto. Therefore, when the time came to complete the application, I had enough material in my resume (including my M.A. candidacy in Asian Studies) to know that I was a great match for the JET Program. However, there was one thing that really caught me by surprise: The JET Program Application.

The JET Program application is probably the most detailed and tedious application that I have ever had to cpmplete. Besides the basic information such as your name, nationality and so on, the application asks for all past medicines prescribed to you. In my situation, some of the medicines that were prescribed to me were repeated throughout the years, so I consolidated them into one single prescription. Within the application, I included a note that stated that some medicines were prescribed to me until the lab results were ready, which were mostly negative. Either way, while filling out the application, I couldn’t help but feel a little prang in my heart for those who have chronic illnesses I know it wouldn’t harm their changes, but I know it would be a little red flag in their application.

Do they need to know about these? No? Let's leave these out! 

The application needed to be filled out entirely, but it also had a set of requirements about how to file, staple and send the application correctly. The staple needed to be completely horizontal and one inch from the upper left corner. The staple also needed to be sprinkled with holy water and blessed by the Pope. Clearly, I’m joking, but the application does need to be in the correct order and they do give directions on where to put the staple. 

Stapled incorrectly? Disqualified!

If the application wasn’t crazy enough, you’ll definitely want to rip some hairs out when you have to write your two-page statement of purpose. The statement of purpose answers basic questions about why would be fit for the JET Program and so on. However, this is the moment where they really look into your English language skills. Therefore, if you think that because you’re a native English speaking that you’ll get in, think again. Within your statement of purpose, the JET Program is looking for interesting and relevant material as well as correct grammar and punctuation usage. This was probably this hardest portion of the application. If you are narcissistic, I’m sure this was a walk in the park, but those who are humble (me, or not me depending on who you ask) really struggled with writing about themselves.  There was a moment that I wanted to write, “I’m awesome, that’s why,” but that wouldn’t cut it. 

That smile that says, "Kill me now!"
Before the application due date, I asked my friend and coworker if she could check my statement of purpose. She majored in English and has amazing grammar skills. Let me tell you, when I received my statement of purpose with tracked changes, I was floored. She literally tore my statement of purpose apart and made it perfect! She rearranged my wording and made my statement of purpose flow from one point to the next. I made sure to thank her with a gift. My boss, who writes several books, also checked my statement of purpose. Once I received the O.K. from him, I knew that it was ready to send (and two weeks before the due date might I add). Therefore, my advice to anyone who is applying is to apply early, write your statement of purpose early, and get everyone and their mothers to read it. Read it yourself! Read it backwards, read it drunk, read it while you're working out, and have someone read it to you. Just read and revise until it answers all of the questions and flows.

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