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1/4 Finding a job back home while still on JET Q&A with Olivia Richards ( UK, ex- Fujieda City JET ) PowerPoint Presentation
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1/4 Finding a job back home while still on JET

Q&A with Olivia Richards (UK, ex-Fujieda City JET)

1. What were you doing before JET?I took part in a Graduate teaching Programmecalled “Teach First”, which places participants into challenging schools. It’s run by a charity whose aim is that no child’s educational success should be determined by their socioeconomic background.

2. How did you decide on what career to pursue after JET and how was your decision affected by JET? My JET experiences confirmed that I wanted to remain in education and gave me an international perspective that added an interesting edge to my CV.

3. When should people start thinking about their CV, references and job hunting?I started looking before Christmas as I knew that a lot of graduate jobs close their applications quite early and I wanted to see what was out there. I would recommend staring to think about it as early as you can as some jobs had already filled by the time I started looking.

4. When did you start looking, apply and have your interviews?I started applying around December/ January and had interviews around February.

5. What are the main challenges of job hunting abroad?The time difference is the main challenge and the fact that it was not an option for me to fly back for an interview. A couple of jobs were not willing to interview over Skype as they have assessment centres where applicants need to be present.

6. Were interviewers accommodating with the time difference and the fact that you lived abroad?It really depended on the employers. I had one interview at 1am, but the job I ended up getting asked me when would be suitable for me.

7. For you, what were the biggest challenges with being interviewed for a job abroad and how did you counter them?I found interviewing over Skype difficult, as the connection was always a pain! It took half an hour to sort out the sound/ picture for one interview and for another interview I had no picture, which was hard as I couldn’t see visual cues from the interviewer so we would often speak over each other. For one interview I had to do a presentation and had prepared visual aids, but we couldn’t get the video sorted so they didn’t see them!

Interviews by Megan Locke and Riya Sri-Raviculan

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To counter these difficulties I just carried on and didn’t show that I was bothered. I explained what visual aids I had with me and I guess it worked in my favour as it showed perseverance!

8. What job did you end up taking?I am now working for the Graduate Recruitment Team within Teach First. This role includes going to Universities in the UK and encouraging students to apply for the programme, supporting students with their applications, training students who want to volunteer in schools and working with societies and organisations at Universities who are working to reduce educational inequality. It is very different to anything I’ve done before, but I’m enjoying the new challenges!

9. When did you find out you got the job and when do you start?I found out that I got the job in May and I started August 19th which was nine days after I got home from Japan. Although it was a bit manic starting the job so soon, I think it really helped me to settle back into life back home as it was exciting getting stuck into something new. 10. How did you try to use JET to help distinguish you from other applicants?As the jobs I was looking for were all related to education, I could talk about the Japanese education system and what I had learned from that.  Jobs were all looking for skills such as resilience, communication, problem solving, creativity etc, that I had definitely developed while on JET and could use when writing cover letters.

11. What questions should JETs be asking themselves when thinking about their life after the program?It would be useful to see what kind of skills you need for the jobs you want and if you don’t feel like you have them then look for opportunities in Japan where you can gain them. I would suggest starting to think about any careers service links you have too. My University still supported me with CV advice even though I’d graduated five years before.

12. What advice would you give someone who didn’t know what to do post JET?I would start by just typing key words into career search engines. I just typed in education and would see what came up! I also tried searching words like ‘creative’ or ‘travel’, which were other things I was interested in and sometimes something I hadn’t considered before would come up. I also started paying attention to alumni emails from my university and emails from Teach First that advertised jobs. I also asked friends who were in the sectors I was interested in if they knew of any openings.

13. Where do you picture yourself in 5 five years’ time career-wise?I would like to remain in the education sector, either within Teach First, within a school or in another organisation that is making an impact on education in the UK.

Interviews by Megan Locke and Riya Sri-Raviculan

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2/4 Finding a job back home while still on JET

Q&A with Ashley Tabb (USA, ex-Shizuoka High School JET)

1. What were you doing before JET? I graduated from college with a master's in teaching less than three months before moving to Japan. I had only had my teaching license for my home state a month before JET!

2. What are your long term career aspirations and where do you picture yourself in five years’ time career-wise? Hopefully still teaching! It's what the plan was before going to Japan, and I've picked up where I left off before JET (albeit, the three-year hiatus from the subject material does mean I have to dedicate more time to studying). 

3. How did you decide on what to pursue after JET and how was this choice affected by JET? A major part of the reason I did JET was to experience an eastern classroom. I had read about the collectivistic nature of Asian culture, and I wanted to see how that would play out in a classroom. I figured it could only broaden what I know and help my teaching when I returned to the US. JET helped me realize that I do enjoy working with high school students.

4. Can you give us a time line for researching jobs, applying, interviews, and acceptance? I knew my third year would be my last, and so I used that to prepare for life after JET. It was the end of the school year (March break) that I contacted my US references and asked JTEs to be a reference for me. I knew what district I wanted to work for, and had been keeping an eye on job openings since about February. While in Seoul during Golden week (first week of May), I submitted my application for the teaching job I now have. My interview was May 15 over Skype, and I was told I had the job on May 20th.

5. What are the main challenges of applying to jobs from abroad?

Honestly, applications are all online and everything is so digital now that it wasn't too difficult. Being thousands of miles from home is only an excuse if you don't have a plan. If you know what you want to do and know where to look, then it's not too difficult. I was fortunate that my contract wouldn't start until after I returned from JET though. 

Interviews by Megan Locke and Riya Sri-Raviculan

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6. Were interviewers accommodating with the time difference and the fact that you lived abroad? Were there any other obstacles you faced during interviews, and how did you counter them? 

This was a bit of an obstacle, because the interview had to be during their school day. The school said I could interview either their early morning (but after 9pm Japan time), or their late afternoon (and 5:30am Japan time). I opted to interview at 5:30am. They were extremely accommodating and understanding that it was early and I sometimes messed up my sentences.

7. How did you try to use your JET experience to help distinguish you from other applicants?JET gave me classroom experience and experience working with large class sizes. JET also gave me insight into what it is like to be a foreigner in a culture and overcoming the obstacles that come with that. I work in a very diverse school with some immigrant students, so I know what it is like for them to adjust to American culture. Plus, I was able to get teaching experience while also putting a few years between me and my students (otherwise I would've been 23 teaching 18 year olds). In all honesty though, having the experience on my resume impressed my interviewers enough. 8. What questions should JETs be asking themselves when deciding on a post-JET career? Where do I want to live? What are the three most important things I am looking for in a career? 

9. What advice would you give someone who didn’t know what to do post JET? Email your university's career services - they may be able to offer you advice in what career path to pursue based on your degree. Also, a job is better than no job so definitely start looking for any job before you go home if you don’t’ know where to start.

Interviews by Megan Locke and Riya Sri-Raviculan

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3/4 Finding a course while still on JET

Q&A with Katrina Brown (Canada, ex-Haibara High School JET)

1.  What were you doing before JET?

Before JET,  I was a university student, working at a coffee shop and finishing my degree. 

2.  What are your long term career aspirations and where do you picture yourself in five years’ time career-wise?

To be a Secondary English literature teacher. Hopefully in five years time, I'll be working as an English literature teacher at an international high school somewhere in the world. 

3. How did you decide on what to pursue after JET and how was this choice affected by JET? 

Teaching is something I've always wanted to do. It was the right time for me to leave JET.  I stayed in Japan to live with my partner, and pursue my grad school of choice one more time after being wait-listed. 

4. Can you give us an application time line? 

Researching universities: June-September, applying: October-December, Interview : April, Acceptance.. still waiting, but hopefully this year it should be before June. 

5. What are the main challenges of applying to a university from abroad?

I was applying to a school in England, so I had to deal with a separate company first, in order to have my degree "translated" to see if it was equivalent to that of the UK. This took a shockingly long time, especially from Japan, and I was unable to seek help as I was so far away. Also, my school of choice denied my request for an on-line interview, and instead I had to fly to the UK for a weekend in order to be considered. 

6. Were interviewers accommodating with the time difference and the fact that you lived abroad?

They were kind and understood my difficulties, but no, they were not at all accommodating. 

7. How did you try to use your JET experience to help distinguish you from other applicants? 

As I was applying for a teaching program, speaking about my experience with diverse learners and classroom environments helped me in the interview. 

Interviews by Megan Locke and Riya Sri-Raviculan

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8. What questions should JETs be asking themselves when choosing a course of study? 

They need to be quite sure that they can commit to the complete process of applying (including the possibility that the interviewer may require an in-person interview). It's a very time strenuous process, so if it is not possible to see it through, don't waste your time with all the paperwork. 

9.  What advice would you give someone who didn’t know what to do post JET?

JETs are generally high achievers from university programs, who then go on to be the local celebrity of their school. We are paid a lot of money and have to do generally less work than most people with a 9-5 job. This often results in an inflated sense of self, that can work against you in interviews and the professional world.  I'd advise the person who doesn't know what to do post-JET to stay humble. The job market is rough, and it may take some time to get where you'd like to be, don't turn your nose up at work that may seem "beneath"  you in the meantime.

Interviews by Megan Locke and Riya Sri-Raviculan

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4/4 Finding a course while still on JET

Q&A with Mike Reis (USA, ex-Fugakukan High School JET)

1.  What were you doing before JET?

 I jumped around a bit with careers.  I worked as a Pharmacy Technician, California Senate Staffer, and was a U.S. Marine-NCO before that

2.  What are your long term career aspirations and where do you picture yourself in five years’ time career-wise?

Long-term I hope to help bring a start-up business from conception to market.  It's an arduous process, but the challenge pales in comparison to the reward of being able to take an idea and make something of it.  In 5 years time I'm hopeful to be a senior consultant for a major consulting firm, best case Boston Consulting Group or Deloitte, specializing in helping other people bring up and improve their own businesses and organizations.

3. How did you decide on what to pursue after JET and how was this choice affected by JET? 

My decision to pursue an MBA had actually been seeded before JET.  I worked for (D) California Senator Sheila Kuehl, and met with local constituents looking for help starting their own businesses in West Los Angeles.  I enjoyed helping them find creative solutions, and found this interaction more interesting than my own undergraduate studies.  Coming on JET, I attended an information session my first August in 2010, at the International University of Japan.  Although I felt their program wasn't for me, it did encourage me to continue gauging the merits of an MBA, as well as different schools and program offerings.  JET pushed the importance of working in a diverse team, and in situations that were beyond my comfort zone, often times needing creative on-the-spot solutions. 

4. Can you give us an application time line? 

Serious in-depth research into programs took me about 6 months, narrowing down programs based on geographic location, ranking, alumni networks, name branding, study emphasis, courses, international experience, and average candidate composition.  I began this in-depth research in May of 2012, looking at program websites, attending on-line information sessions, and having Skype interviews/calls with representatives to cover specific questions and get a better understanding of the program itself.   By late summer I had my short-list, and had even taken obon vacation to visit my top choice to see if I felt a fit.  I studied for the GMAT (North American business school test) over the fall, and took the test twice (October & November).  

Interviews by Megan Locke and Riya Sri-Raviculan

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I passed on round-1 applications for most of the schools, instead focusing on round-2.  This let me concentrate on the GMAT, gather all my proper materials from the U.S., and work with one of my JTE's for a letter of recommendation.  I applied in early December of 2012, and received confirmation quickly for a Skype-style interview in mid-January, this interview lasted about 30 minutes.  After another telephone interview, which went for another 30 minutes, I was told that I'd be notified by mid-February.  On 15 February I received my acceptance letter.  I should point out that I had opted to apply to only one school in Round-2, which was also my top choice.  Having round-3 still available and years 4 & 5 left on JET, and my school enthusiastic for me to stay another year, I knew I had a safety net if I wasn't accepted.

May 2012--Began in-depth research phase Summer 2012--narrowing choices, Skype/telephone conversations with alumni & admissions offices August 2012--Campus visit September 2012--online-information session August to October/November--Study and testing for GMAT October 2012--Short-list finalized, request for Letter of Recommendation Early December 2012--Application submitted Mid-January 2013--Video Interview (30 Min) Early-February 2013--Telephone 2nd Interview (30 Min) Mid-February 2013--Acceptance Letter Received 

5. What are the main challenges of applying to a university from abroad? The biggest hurdles were largely centered around arranging to take the GMAT.  Gathering application materials, and doing research, are easy enough via the Internet and Skye/Google telephone services.  The GMAT is only proctored "locally" in Nagoya and Tokyo, so I had to go each time for the weekend, once leaving straight from SDC.  First time I went to Nagoya I forgot my passport for the testing location, and had to quickly ride the Shinkansen/Local back to Fujinomiya, and then return to my hotel in Nagoya in one quick turnaround. 

6. Were interviewers accommodating with the time difference and the fact that you lived abroad?

  I was fortunate that the admissions committee member who was heading my application review was a former JET-ALT/PA in Gifu.  To be honest, there was little leeway given those applying from overseas on the interview time.  My Indian colleagues have told me about their own 2:00 AM interviews during hectic work weeks.  

Interviews by Megan Locke and Riya Sri-Raviculan

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My interview time ended up being at 5:00 AM.  This meant making sure to get up earlier and making sure I was dressed appropriately, as well as speaking with my neighbor before-hand to explain and apologize about the early time she'd hear me through the walls.  An interview over the Internet is no substitute for the real thing, having to deal with occasionally poor connection speeds and that the panel could only see a constrained view.  I had to make sure I stayed in frame and that my gestures were slow and controlled

7. How did you try to use your JET experience to help distinguish you from other applicants? 

JET was a topic that did come up a few times in both interviews.  Again, with one of the panel actually being a JET alumni, he was able to ask very specific questions and ask for creative responses to very specific scenarios.  The JET programme's immersion into local Japanese communities, working with a diverse workforce (your school and fellow ALT's), and role of a cultural and educational ambassador all were strong differentials.  I leveraged these differentials to showcase teamwork, cultural sensitivity, flexibility, personal development, and organizational planning.  You will really be surprised how well known the JET programme is in both the educational and business community, but realize also that it has a mixed reputation.  If you don't present a framework for your own experiences on JET, your audience may allow a less than favorable frame do this for you.  As an aside, I recommend you work to ensure that you are always adding value to the JET programme's reputation, and realize that your time on JET is not a closed off box, your actions and commitments now can have long-term benefits for both you and the JET programme. 

8. What questions should JETs be asking themselves when choosing a course of study? 

 A good question, that you should be asking from day one, is what do you want to do next?  Seriously, before the novelty and newness of being an English teacher and Japan fade, you should immediately start to consider your options.  JET won't be your career, so you should have a forward thinking thought process on where you'll be after it's over.  Although many post-JET's pursue an educational background, your time in JET does not marry you to being an ESL teacher or general educator in the future.  Another question to ask is how skills and training you gain in JET are transferable to other job markets.  If you wish to pursue a radical career change after JET, your work now is still providing valuable skill sets and experience that will be attractive to future graduate programs and employers. 

Interviews by Megan Locke and Riya Sri-Raviculan

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9.  What advice would you give someone who didn’t know what to do post JET?

Have a brain-storming session and list every job, profession, course of study, hobby, business, etc. that you like or have some interest in.  Be serious about where your strengths and weaknesses are.  Weaknesses do not mean that you can't pursue a future in that area.  Besides being serious, realize that it may take you months of actually looking at your options before you center on something, this may be a small pivot from JET or a radical transformation.  Don't be afraid to take on the challenge or risk of that change, and to change again if you feel the fit isn't right for you.  Get advice from older JET's with real career experience, and reach out to JET alumni.  Your home nations/area's have established alumni networks, and Shizuoka alumni populate the Shizuoka AJET page.  Reach out and ask questions via E-mail or Skype, if an alumnus or alumna still live in Japan you can offer to take them out for a cup of coffee or beer and have a serious conversation about their experiences and how these may relate to your own future options.

Interviews by Megan Locke and Riya Sri-Raviculan