It seems like I’ve spent more time stressing about the Statement of Purpose than I have spent actually writing it. That being said, I’ve completed three drafts so far and plan on starting a fourth soon. Considering this is the biggest, most important part of the application, I can’t afford to submit anything that’s less than perfect.
Recently, I attended a JET interest meeting being lead by a former JET coordinator. I had been to a similar meeting by the same guy a couple years ago just to see if I was interested in the program, but now I decided to go to remind myself of anything I could have forgotten, as well as giving myself a chance to have a face-to-face with someone who can answer any of my questions. With less than a month to go until the due date, I need to put the finishing touches on my application and send it off so I can finally stop stressing. This meeting was incredibly helpful in guiding me on those last steps.
The meeting went as I assumed it would, with the guy explaining the technical aspects of the program for people who don’t know what it is exactly, but what was really helpful were the small tips here and there. He reminded us to sign the printed out application form, which is something that I might have forgotten to do otherwise. He also clarified the program as something that was more of a recruiting program that set you up with individual local governments, which is a detail that can matter when writing the statement of purpose.
But what was most helpful was the reminder that they want people who have tangible goals. The example he gave was his own goal of wanting to pass a certain JLPT level within a certain amount of time. Again, this was a small detail but it really stood out to me personally.
I realized that in my statement of purpose, I hadn’t properly laid out my goals. Sure, I talked about my future career of wanting to be involved in international communication in some way, but thinking about it now, that goal is intangible and its success is hard to define. It is also something that cannot be completed within my time as an ALT.
This small example that he gave us caused me to rethink my entire statement of purpose, as well as my goals for going to Japan. Why do I want to go to Japan? What do I hope to achieve while I am there? Why does it take me going to Japan to achieve these goals?
I definitely need to think about these things and lay them out properly in my essay. Of course I know that I want to go to Japan, but how do I explain my motivation to someone else? That’s something that I’m going to have to think about.
It might be a bit late at this point, but I recommend everyone to go to a JET interest meeting. Even if you feel like you already know everything there is to know about the program, having a chance to ask those personalized questions to someone who knows the process inside and out isn’t something you often get to do. Take advantage of all the information you possibly can as soon as you can. Even with a month to go, I was reminded of several important aspects that are going to hopefully help me out as I put the finishing touches on my application.