If you are an aspiring JET eagerly awaiting the next application period to open, I am sure by now you have read about the many tasks that current and outgoing JETs had to do in order to gain one of those coveted interview spots!
Arguably the most important task is your Personal Statement (or Statement of Purpose). This is your opportunity to write in your own words all about why you want to take part in this programme, and what you have to offer as a potential JET Programme candidate.
Having spent the past three and a half years assisting prospective university students with their personal statements and applications, I learned many useful tactics on how to tackle getting started. These tips definitely helped me when it came to writing my own JET Personal Statement and kept the whole process stress-free, so I’m passing them on to you – because sharing is caring.
Ganbatte! Let’s show JET the best possible you!
Get Started Early
The JET Programme application usually opens sometime around late September through to October, and stays open for about a month. If you think this gives you plenty of time to write a strong statement – YOU’RE WRONG!
Whether you are a current undergraduate or have previously graduated, you should avoid starting your statement from scratch during the open application period. There are many other parts to complete on top of this, especially if you need to visit a doctor for medical evidence or collect university documentation. These can quickly become difficult to manage if you have personal, work or university life to juggle alongside.
It isn’t a mammoth task, but a rushed statement is easier to spot and pick apart, and this is your one opportunity to shine before they get to meet you. Starting earlier gives you more time to plan, proof read and edit your statement until it is the best representation of you!
Do not rely heavily on example statements
Example statements can be a really helpful tool if you have a mental block or are struggling to get started. However you should use these with caution as they were written solely from one person’s experiences! Reading other statements whilst writing your own can also be a detriment, as you may compare yours to what they have written – something you should avoid doing.
Everybody has a unique story about how they fell in love with Japan, what led them to apply and the experience that you can bring. JET wants you for what you will bring to them, not a cookie-cutter clone who fits a mould – hence why every successful statement is completely different.
Stick to a structure
When you start searching for JET Personal Statement advice, you will undoubtedly come across many different requirements that people have had to abide by. This can be a bit of a panic at first but the best advice is to stick to what your consulate/official JET website states! For example, us Brits can write between 800-1000 words, double-spaced which can end up at around 2-3 pages, whereas elsewhere in the world I have heard it can be limited to 2 pages only.
Your official JET website may also provide a structure that they would prefer you to stick to (if you’re applying from the UK there definitely is one). This is extremely helpful, and it is ideal that you do work around this as you will answer all of the questions they want to know, in the order they are looking for.
That said – don’t feel like you need to stick to three exact paragraphs because they give you three sections. You can write as many as you like, as long as it fits within their requirements. Just make it flow like you would with any regular essay, but keep your content organised.
Remember it’s a job!
The JET Programme is a fantastic opportunity for sharing your culture and experience and….. aw heck, you really want to live in Japan. We all do – that’s why so many JETs are already there and the rest of us soon to join. But it isn’t an extended holiday or a chance to continue a university style life. You are applying for a full time job – so keep that in mind when writing. Treating the application professionally will show through the way you write and present yourself.
Just to note, it has been debated whether or not mentioning an interest in anime or manga can put a negative spin on your application. But if mentioned as part of an interest and not the overall theme or driving factor for your application it should be okay. I actually wrote about my childhood love of Pokemon in mine and here I am now, due to start in August.
The biggest thing to do is WRITE. By the time you have researched and planned what they want from you, you’ll be ready to just go for it. Don’t write your first draft with the word or page limit in mind – go over it! It is always better to have more than less, and trim it down later. You can proof read, and have friends, family, colleagues and teachers help you along the way (Especially if you listen to the first point and start early ;D).
Have as many trusted people as you feel you need give you an honest opinion on the statement, but remember to keep it true to yourself. You can always re-write a sentence to make it sound more professional, but the original personality should be there. Some of the best statements my students sent off to their universities began as raw, excitable (and terribly written) pieces of writing that they rewrote to a professional standard. But because they gave themselves enough time and proof read carefully, they kept a flavour of themselves in there without becoming robotic.
I hope that you enjoy working on this and that my advice is of some reassurance to you throughout the process. And when in doubt.. head on over to the forums! There’s a fantastic community on there and plenty of helpful hands on deck to give support. I’m always more than happy to answer any questions.
Japan dwelling British geek, Vicki is a lover of tea, video games and art. If she is not eating in somewhere new, she is wandering around (a.k.a getting lost) and discovering exciting things!