Being “The Guy”
During this past weekend, I had the chance of seeing some old friends to catch up and say some final goodbyes. Some of these people were past JET applicants, but unfortunately did not get into the program. However, all of them seemed to say one same thing: “Well, you’re the kind of person that they’re looking for.” While there was always a joke added that my physical features helped (no, guys, really, I’m pretty damn blonde), it really got me thinking as to what “that kind of person” actually is.
There is a lot of talk about “who the JET Program wants” and what kind of people they look for during the application process. My personal stance? I’m not exactly sure what sort of person that is and don’t think I’ll ever know. However, a lot of people applying seem to speak about this “perfect applicant” as if it was a mystical creature, only seen when the stars align and when the interview notices are released.
With any job, though, the people in JET are looking for a variety of candidates. While I already believed this thought beforehand, the idea really solidified when I went to a recent meetup for new JETs. Indeed, there was quite the variety: there was the proudly-stated nerd who said he was going straight to Akihabara after we got settled at the hotel, the education major that was interested in seeing how Japanese schools work and hoping to use that knowledge for future teaching and, lastly, the dude that had never been there before and wanted some adventure in his life. Then there was me, but I’ll leave it to you as to which stated (or non-stated) stereotype I might fit into.
It’s not as if there is one person that had all of these qualities all in one package. I’m sure there might be someone who was hired this year (or previous) years that encompassed all of these, but to say the least we were all our own entities. The idea of the “recent college graduate who had majored in Japanese, Education and has been working all their college career to only work for JET” as the only people that get hired is ridiculous. I’ve known of bio-med engineers, veterinarians, food-science, journalism (hoo-ah!) and countless other majors that, on their surface, have nothing to directly do with Japan or Education and still get hired. Even then, I know of people in their 40s that got hired this year!
There is a part of me that believes, just like with any job, if one sells themselves well enough they can easily get into the JET Program. And JET is just like any other job! I’ve read through too many forum topics of people trying to get into JET attempting to mold themselves into “the perfect JET.” So much I think they sort of lose a bit of themselves during the process. Which is the most important part: they’re hiring you; not how you might compare to the false idea of “the perfect JET.”
So go on, apply and show that application/interview board what you’re made of! Regardless of your hair color.