JET Programme Application Timeline Masterlist 2018

I'm going to make it. 

I was shortlisted for the JET Programme 2018.

Will you be ? :) 
You can also read about my background in my "Road to Japan" series! In this post I'll see a little of the process that I have followed during the last 6 months heading towards the long awaited announcement we, future Canadian JETs, received during the last week of March : Being Shortlisted

This is a long one, so get a snack, a coffee, and read on !

The first time I set foot in Japan, was September 8th 2010. I stayed for 6 months, then March 11th happened. (hint : Great Eastern Japan Distaster)
Flew back to Canada to comfort my parents that were scared of the effects of radiation. I would have stayed.
I was able to fly to Japan once again in may to finish school, and left in august. The plane took off for Canada, and I cried. I thought I'd never see Japan again.

The second time, I gathered all my life savings (literally) and purchased a ticket for a Moi dix mois concert on a whim, and planned to visit for two weeks in March 2013. I stayed at a friend's house, and I cried several times going to bed because I knew after this, there was no way I could come back, ever. My savings were gone, I had a boring job at best, and I had dropped university. This was my last time.

By the end of 2013, I was hurting a lot. I needed a band-aid. A big one. I just needed to leave.
I had pennies, and my credit card. I flew to Japan for another concert, round-trip, for 3 days. 3. days. That's all I could afford to try and save my hopeless heart. When the plane took off from Narita I cried again. I had told myself all these other times I wouldn't come back, and I did, but this time, I was out of resources. I had done my best, and except for crawling out of my pit once again and gathering pennies, I would never make it back.


Fast forward to August 2017. The JET Programme started posting about their applications. I was finally almost done with my Bachelors, so I went for it. 

And last week. March 27th 2018. I got my answer. 

The middle part didn't feel so fast, nor easy at all though. It was something. So let's go ahead and look at this year's timeline for the application process for the JET Programme. 

First, let me tell you I am commenting from Canada, and as you will quickly discover by going around on forums or boards, facebook groups and comment pages on blogs everything you will ever think about during this process is ESID. Every situation is different. You will get about 4-5 of those for every question you ask. Be a kind a smart future JET. Do a minimum of research before asking ! 

The general timeline of Canadian JETs, Application for 2018

1. Application season opening 

My first suggestion before I tell you more about this, is to enter your email and contact information to be notified of the application process opening ! This is what I did last year by the beginning of summer. And then waited. 

We got an email on September 14th, 2017, letting us know we could get started with filling out the -numerous- forms and details we had to submit. 
★ Pro-tip : START EARLY ★
Don't get me wrong. You have enough time, technically two months or so. For us, final submission date for all the documents was November 17th. (it usually is mid-november, no matter the exact day).

For this first round, without mentioning every form or information you need to provide JET with, you will need, along with a few copies of ID documents and pictures :
  • Statement of purpose
    (I might make a separate post on it, but there are various ones out there that are great ressources) which is basically a cover letter talking about your motivations and aspirations for why they should hire you. You can start this as soon as you know you want to apply, so you have time to add things, correct it, re-read it, take out things or reformulate. I slowly started gathering the major points of what I wanted to write in late July. 
  • Education and work background
    Simple info on schools attended and majors and#or programs you have attended, Japan related studies or courses (including language), as well as employer info for your past 3 jobs. 
  • Personal Info
    Well, that goes without saying. Contact information, as well as family or emergency contacts. 
  • Placement request
    The one thing people stress a lot about trying to cheat the system or write popular places to get there, or unpopular places to get there, but the real deal is that JET does not really care. The number one priority of your placement choice are schools who decide who they want. If they happen to have open positions and interested schools in the area you have chosen, it might happen, but it is more like a lottery than a matching process. I still think you should write what you genuinely want, because you might be asked about it, and having a little knowledge or curiosity about the country you'll be moving to is never a bad thing. The number one thing : don't get your hopes up. 
  • 2 letters of reference
    Either a teacher at school, a professor, thesis director (if you are there in your studies) employer. They usually will request one of each, but if unsure, contact the JET DESK of your area (through the JET Inbox you can access once you have registered to fill out your application, a user friendly interface on their website.They usually answer quite quick considering the amount of questions they might be receiving from everyone trying to apply.)  
Once everything has been checked 3 (or 17) times you can submit your online form, and also mail the package (they will let you know what needs to be printed or only sent by the portal). My only suggestion here, get it tracked ! You can make sure all these important documents you either paid to get or spent hours on writing get there on time. If you have everything ready early, send it off and relax ! You now can sit in your PJs and play what you will learn to play a lot with this process : the Waiting Game. For 2 months more precisely. 

2. Waiting Game 

Enjoy christmas, it might be your last christmas in your country and/or seeing extended family for a while ! If you want and can, make plans for the winter/spring semester. Get japanese classes ! Start self-study, research nice things to do or try in Japan, or things you'd like to do again in your own city or country before leaving ! In the back of your mind, just make sure to have a plan B. Jussst in case. 

3. The Interviews - Winter time 

January 15th, I got the email saying I passed the initial stage of application ! Yay ! Now time to stressfully prepare for the interview that'll decide everything ! I got a call about two days later from our JET Desk, notifying me of the interview 2 weeks later, on February 6th. (be ready to either miss a class, or miss work because they will most likely be during the week-time, and cannot be rescheduled. You will need :

  • Business attire
    Yes, you do. And no, business casual will not do. Guys need a suit (although maybe the tie isn't necessary, a nice shirt, a blazer and dress pants) and girls need a shirt, jacket/blazer and a skirt (not too short !) or pants, everyone with dress shoes. 
  • Guts, a smile, and energy
    Eat a nice breakfast, be ready to smile through anything no matter how it goes, and just be you. Don't try and make it too much, be honest, don't try and give them answers everyone gives them "to get the job", answer truthfully. They want you, not a carbon-JET copy. 
  • A good watch because you cannot in any circumstance ever or any excuse ever be late. Be early.
4. The long awaited answers

For many of us, this is not a fun process. Late march, on Facebook groups, discord chats, twitter, people from other countries or other consulates will start popping up with their answer, while you sit there patiently (or not) waiting your sentence. The thing is some countries will get their answer up to more than a week before others (the US is known to get it quite early in certain states, the UK quite late, etc).

March 27th came the final decision through email. SHORTLISTED ! Congratulations, you made it.

At this point, you can get 1 or 3 results.

  1. Shortlisted
    You made it in ! You'll be leaving for Japan late July or early August. 
  2. Alternate
    Waiting list candidate. Brace yourself for a last minute email letting you know you made it, sometimes a few weeks before departure ! Go back to your backup plan in the meantime, and hope for the best. Some candidates got upgraded as late as September so don't throw anything away yet !
  3. Rejected 
    That probably is a big deception, but nothing is lost. You worked hard, and you can certainly try again next year, or just start working on applying on other ALT jobs in Japan if that's what you really want ! 
One of the main things at this point, is to not contact your consulate or JET Desk by phone, email, fax or pigeon courrier to ask about results. It will come. Usually, by the end of the first week of April people have gotten their answer. Sit tight, and wait. 

The rest of the information here goes for all ***Shortlisted*** participants as I have no experience of being an alternate. Here we go ~ 

5. Additional documents

With your result notification, you will get some information on documents to submit to your JET Desk. Usually that is your criminal record form and the final health check form. A few weeks later (usually early June), your consulate will need a proof of graduation, passport information and other papers they will provide you more details on as time goes on. You are now waiting for more specific details of your future living situation : Placement Notifications. 

6. Placement Notification 

This came in May 18th. Are you going to live in snowy Hokkaido, in a tiny apartment in Osaka or on the side of the beach on a tiny remote island on the side of Nagasaki ? Whatever your requests could have been, it's possibly a big surprise. 

People applying always think there is a big game of placement request to play with the consulate, and try to trick JET into placing them where they want. "I heard if you write an unknown place/less desired location you have more chances !" or "Don't write Tokyo, everyone wants this !". Truth is it doesn't matter for the most part. Schools get to decide their future ALTs, and your request comes last. My suggestion is only to write honest placements you would like to be sent to without too much deep thinking, as you will have to explain it at your interview (possibly). Just be ready to not be sent where you wanted at all.

My personal suggestion, if you want to really have chances at getting your requested placement, is to go broad. In my situation, I wanted to be placed as close to Tokyo as possible, so instead of writing Tokyo, where placement is limited, and only gives me two other choices to request, I chose the Kanto region block, which allowed for 6 prefectures and many more cities to be placed into. 

I got northern Kanto, a small city in southern Gunma Prefecture ! Did my trick work or was I just lucky ? I'll never know. 

Now that you know your future area (either Prefecture, or city at this point), get Googlin' ! Have fun discovering your new neighborhood and what it has to offer. 

7. Contact with your Organisation/School

If you are a Prefectural JET, you will be working with the Board of Education, most possibly Senior High schools. If you are a municipal JET, you got a city as your placement notification and will work for the Board of Education of this city or a specific school. You might work with elementary kids up to Junior High. They will probably give your contact information to your predecessor, so keep an eye for that ! 

8. JET activities and Pre-Departure

From early May to Mid-July, JET organises orientation and information week-ends, Japanese classes and cultural activities for everyone to meet and get ready for their new job as an ALT in Japan. You will get a form to fill out for participation to these events, organized by your consulate/JET Desk.

9. Departure Preparation 

During the month of June, you will get details on your accommodation (if you need it) for the pre-departure orientation taking place the day before your departure (There are 3 groups for departure, A, B and C. They leave late July, first days of august and a few days later respectively), you will need to fill Visa application documents and pack. For more packing info, check the airline you will use, and do it wisely. are you packing for a Japanese winter, or year-round beaches ? Check with your placement, predecessor for details of your specific situation. This is ESID at this point ;) 

10. Welcome to Japan 

Arriving in Japan, your hand will be held until you get home. You get to Tokyo Orientation with your group, you get dozens of papers concerning your new job, your possible first time in Japan (if it's not, welcome back ! Sit back and take it in as the newbies try their best). You'll soon be home, meeting your students and your work team, and begin your new life. Enjoy ! 


In the end, if you're thinking about applying for the JET programme, go for it. It is one of the best paid programmes out there for ALTs, their assistance in the process helps greatly in getting a foot in Japan. Just be ready to be patient, to not have too much expectations, and deal with bureaucracy a lot in the first year of application and arrival in Japan. 

Get following the JET Program of your country on their Twitter or Facebook page, and subscribe to their email list to get notification of the beginning of application season ! 

Good luck to all 2019 JET Program applicants ! 

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