Dear fellow JET Candidate,
I’m sure you’re here because you either just received a letter of rejection or was placed as an alternate for the JET application year. Firstly, I would like to say – welcome to the club. I’m very sorry that you were rejected and feel free to express your feelings and emotions to your close friends, teachers and even in the comments section. Though I do not suggest moping to every single individual that you know. I am writing this post today in hopes that I can somehow comfort the incredible grief and sadness you must be feeling. If you do not feel like reading my story, please just skip to this final message. Without further adieu, I would like to share a bit of my wisdom with you.
2 years ago, on March 29th 2017, I was anxiously awaiting the placement results from my JET Interview. I was going to graduate from university this year with my Specialization in Genetics, and the world would finally return all my hard work that I had given to it all of these years. My JET Placement position in Japan. So I waited and BAM! Finally, I received this.
“The 2nd stage of the screening process for the 2017 Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme is now complete. This year, the Embassies and Consulates General in participating countries received thousands of applications. Hence, competition was extremely rigorous.
Consequently, we deeply regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you a position on the 2017 JET Programme. Please note that we are unable to provide you with further details regarding the interview results and will not be taking further inquiries on this matter.
We appreciate the interest that you have shown in the JET Programme and sincerely hope that you will continue to pursue your desire to come to Japan.
Best wishes for your future endeavors.”
Wait… I got rejected? Me. The guy who began the president of his university’s Japanese student association when he wasn’t Japanese. The guy who took all 4 years of Japanese at his university and always tried his best never to miss classes from the first day. The guy who studied molecular genetics and Japanese at the same time who also loved Japanese pop culture from a young age. I got rejected?
I was devastated. It was downright ludicrous in my mind that I was not accepted. Furthermore, a friend from my school got accepted too. I asked her about her result and she asked me about mine (From this point on, I never asked anyone else if they ever got accepted or rejected from the program). I was happy for her, but I was just truly distraught with what had just occurred. Furthermore, I had a 15 page essay that I had to finish for next week’s deadline and I was just beginning to draft the introduction. I left my house as soon as possible and went straight to the nearest Starbucks because I truly did not want to be alone. My mental state began to become confused, but I had to focus on all of my essays and a thesis presentation which was approaching. These tasks are already big enough by themselves, but compiled with the immense sadness of my JET rejection it was difficult to handle.
So in my struggles, I went to speak with certain people. First, I spoke with my Japanese professor who had taught my 4th year Japanese Language class; she completely understood the situation and told me I had to stay focused on the current tasks at hand. I also spoke to my Japanese Film professor because I wished to ask for an essay extension (1 day), he graciously granted me this as he emphasized with me. I finished my thesis and essay with a strong performance, but the lingering sadness that I’m sure we all felt from the disappointment of rejection was very heavy. I know many candidates really have been thinking of the JET Programme from their 1st year of university or their last year of high school. So why was I not rewarded with a spot?
After reflecting on this period, I ask that you please listen to what I have to say despite the sadness you may feel. The JET Programme takes many candidates every year, each one of them is almost just as special as you. There are many people in this world who have worked hard, have interests in Japan or even volunteered for the Japanese community many times. Many of the candidates are just as suitable as you. You didn’t do anything wrong, but for some reason they got accepted over you. Please take the time you need, to work out why the JET Programme ALT/CIR position meant so much to you. If you need to speak with a university counselor, please try. It is better than letting your own sadness devour everything that made you a good candidate. See if it is the only career option for you, but don’t forget there are plenty of different jobs as well as companies who may be willing to accept you. This world does not hand us things because we want them.
The next year I applied for JET again. That year I did much self-reflection, but also I took my application much more seriously and thought about many of my decisions in 2017. Luckily, I was able to make it through the application process and was accepted as an ALT. Here are the two possible reasons that I think could have gotten me rejected (Disclaimer: They never tell you exactly why you’re rejected).
- Willingness to Drive – In my first year, I put that I would not like to drive. So in 2018 I put that I was willing to drive. JET accepts many candidates to Inaka areas, so by opting out of driving – you are opting out of your possibilities to be selected for these areas.
- Mock Lesson – For many of us, the mock lesson is something that we all know about before our interview. Yet, some of us do not prepare amply for it. My advice would be to practice your lessons at least once when you are home, so you’re not a chicken with it’s head cut off in the interview. I spoke to an individual who interviewed me from 2017 and he/she actually said that they liked me in the interview – so, I don’t know if this necessarily took me out of the race.
Just because you didn’t get accepted to JET does not mean life is over or that the world is against you. Time continues to move no matter what happened, so we need to move with it. Let’s count to 10, then continue to work towards a new goal. I know it may take a while to find a new angle, but it is for our own good that we continue to grow. Someone once said, “If you are truly meant for JET, it will happen eventually.” Today as I sit within my Japanese school job as an ALT, I truly believe this sentiment.