This past Saturday, I finally graduated. Four (and a half) years of hard work finally paid off and I am able to move on with my life. Now, it’s all about looking forward.
Unfortunately, my situation is still bittersweet.
From what I can tell, the JET Program seems to be designed for students graduating in the spring semester. As there is only one recruitment window per year and those who are accepted into the program arrive in Japan during the summertime, it lines up perfectly for these students.
But because I graduated in December, that leaves me with several months of buffer time in which my options are limited until I receive more information.
The timeline on the JET website indicates that if you are accepted for an interview, you will be notified in early January, with the interviews taking place in late January/early February. After this point, you will know if you were accepted into the program in April, and if you leave at the normal time you won’t be going until July. That means there will be 4 months in which you will be sitting around, unsure if if you even have a job. If you find out that you are accepted, that will mean an addition 3 months on top of that before you get to go.
The JET Program considers students in my position by offering Early Placement, but it is still up in the air for those who choose this option.
I have been told that early placement is not a guaranteed and definitely not worth counting on. The reason early placement exists is to fill vacancies where people had to leave the program early for whatever reason and the school is in desperate need of a replacement. Obviously, this is not a usual situation, so counting on it happening for everyone who indicated they would accept early placement would only lead to disappointment.
So it puts me in an awkward position. Where my friends and classmates all had full-time jobs lined up, or at the very least setting up interviews at companies, I am forced to sit back and wait. I can’t apply for full-time jobs, as they expect long-term commitments and don’t want to waste time training someone who might not even be in the country for much longer. I have to look for positions that want to hire someone with a degree, but for only part-time work. Obviously, that is not too easy to find.
That being said, one potential solution for this would be substitute teaching, which is what I am currently applying for. That would give me a position where I could get experience working in a classroom, while also not making any massive commitments to a company.
I have also applied for several other part-time jobs, but December is a notoriously bad time to look for work. Although I am currently working, I am only here for the season and while I am going to attempt to stay here after Christmas, I will have a bunch of free time that I need to fill with work. Anything I can do to save up some money will be fine with me.
So keep these things in mind if you are planning to work with JET and graduating in the fall rather than spring. While May graduates tend to have their timelines work out perfectly, us December grads have to prepare for a window of uncertainty. Use this free time to save up money and prepare. You’re going to have a lot of free time.
In addition to working during this time, I’ve also set aside a week where I will be going to Mexico City on vacation as a reward to myself for graduating. I will definitely be writing about that as well as taking pictures. This is kind of a travel blog, after all. By that time, I will know if I have an interview or not. Updates roll in slowly, but I will try to keep up to date.
Good luck to everyone in my shoes patiently waiting for January to see if they got that interview email.