One day in my Intermediate Japanese class the professor told us about an upcoming seminar about opportunities to work and learn in Japan. I attended the seminar and learned about The Jet Programme. The Jet Programme is a long running Japanese government program to bring foreign English teachers to Japan. Being a JET teacher gets you a free trip to Japan, housing subsidies and a juicy tax free salary. The work all takes place at public schools. The downside is that many of the teaching positions are in small towns in the middle of nowhere.
Overall things sounded good, so I filled out the extensive application forms and sent them in for processing. I was contacted some time later to set up an interview at the Manitoba Japanese Canadian Culture Centre. To prepare for my interview I did a lot of online research about Japan and found some blogs written by people who had lived and taught in Japan.
My JET interview could have gone better. The interviewers were 3 intense looking people in suits who asked a lot of tough questions; why did I want to teach, how would I cope if I was the only foreigner in a small town, would I be okay if the teacher just wanted me to pronounce a list of words to the class, things like that. One of the things they focused on was my business degree. They wanted me to explain how an accounting degree would make me qualified to teach English. I answered that because I had practice explaining accounting concepts to non accounting people I could explain English to non English speakers. I made a reasonably good showing until the ending, where they decided to test my general knowledge of Japan. When I was unable to correctly name the emperor it pretty much sealed my fate.
I got a rejection letter a few weeks after the interview and discussed it with my Japanese prof. She told me that one of my classmates had been hired, but she thought I would have been a much better choice. Apparently the JET interviewers were giving preference to arts and education degrees, and my business degree was a major obstacle.
I was feeling pretty down about not getting hired. The Ex sympathized, but I think she was a little relieved that I would not be leaving the country for a year. I decided instead of giving up, I would find another place to teach English and be the best English teacher that the country had seen. I didn’t quite get that good, but I do believe that the JET Programme missed out.