In the midst of completing my final year of graduate school, I applied for the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. It came to no surprise to my friends and family, because they knew about my previous studies in International Relations and Asian Studies and well as my abroad experience at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. 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 complete. 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.
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 horizontal and one inch from the upper left corner. The application also needed to be sprinkled with holy water and blessed by the Pope. I’m joking, but the application does need to be in the correct order and they give directions on where to put the staple. You want your application to stand out, but not because you didn’t follow directions.
Before the application due date, I asked my friend and coworker if she could check my statement of purpose. She majored in English and had 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 OK from him, I knew that it was ready to send (and two weeks before the due date). Therefore, my advice to anyone who is applying to the JET Program is to write your statement of purpose early and have everyone and their mothers read it. 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 beautifully flows from one question to the next. This is the moment where they assess your English grammar and punctuation usage, but the JET Program is looking for interesting and relevant material . This was probably this hardest and most critical portion of your JET Program application.
I wish you all the best of luck!