Hiroshima-ken JET alum Greg Beck answers some questions about what he’s been up to post-JET and how the JET experience has helped him. If you’re a JET alum and would like to answer this questionnaire, please email the editors at wideislandview (atto) gmail (dotto) com!
Name: Greg Beck
Location in Japan while on JET: Kure as an ALT and Hiroshima City as a CIR
Years on JET: 5
Currently living in: New York City, the city with a sleeping problem!
Current occupation and jobs held since leaving JET:
I started working as a news producer with Tokyo Broadcasting System (RCC, in Hiroshima) less than one month after my last day on JET, so the first year here has already flown by! I don’t keep up on my blog enough, but I have had many amazing experiences here already. I plan on staying here for the foreseeable future, and thanks in large part to the JET Alumni Assoc., I still get to hang out with JET friends, make new friends, and keep using my Japanese!
Highlight/funniest part of your JET experience:
I could have written books on this subject. Here is a tiny fraction of this answer:
Road trips with the Ship-Heads touch rugby team, snowboarding with my DSK crew, Thanksgivings in Kure with Fish, dressing like a pirate for the very un-piratey Sui-gun Matsuri, trivia nights at Southern Cross, SAKE-MATSURI, every AJET event (including Happy Raft, Okayama Naked Man, etc.) my last year, taking first years to karaoke in Tokyo, Tottori San-in and Festa De Rama annual Beach Parties, working the Nobel Peace Laureates’ Summit, every school I’ve ever been as an ALT or CIR (including the fire-fighter’s school and the Rojin-Daigaku – for old people), and traveling to all the BOEs to meet you and your supervisors where you actually work!
The number one highpoint had to be throwing Hiroshima-City JET Tim Ing’s bachelor party at Kemby’s, but there were so many nights that come in a close second.
How the JET Programme has benefited you career-wise:
Not one moment hasn’t helped my career in one form or another; specifically – improving my Japanese, adding real professional experience to my resume, expanding my personal interest in internationalization and cross-cultural understanding, and networking which continues to help me as a journalist. More than anything, being a part of the JET Alumni Association in New York has given me endless opportunities to continue networking, and if necessary, job-hunt.
What transferable skills JET gives you: I learned, or got better at, clerical work (boring, but important!), event planning, emceeing, public speaking, patience, and of course speaking, reading, and writing Japanese.
What advice you would give to current JETs for getting the most out of the JET experience in order to further their career afterwards:
No matter how many times you hear it, even to those who learn a lot of Japanese while on JET, study Japanese more! Also, you don’t have to become an expert, but pick a tradition or study a facet of Japanese history/culture/literature/art and make it “your thing” so when you go to apply for your next job, “JET Programme” doesn’t just look like another 9-to-5. Volunteer, help farm, clean up your community, meet an old Japanese person who makes off-color comments and talk to them for a loooong time, help with festivals, religious or not, and try to live life in Japan like you’re the main character in a crazy fish-out-of-water novel. Eventually, you will have a job interview, and if you can tell them a story they won’t forget, they won’t forget you either.
Any tips for job hunting after JET?
My biggest piece of advice is to go on a big, long, vacation! Spend a month relaxing in a country you’ve never been. JET is an adventure, but it’s also a responsibility. Before you start another job with responsibilities (including grad school, etc.), have an adventure somewhere you can go a week without looking at your watch or setting an alarm.
I found my job listed on Jetwit.com, but gaijinpot and other sites exist, and you should use them all if you want to start job hunting before you leave JET. Don’t put off writing your resume. You should have at least one final version ready to go in .word, .pdf, and printed-out form.
If you move somewhere like NYC and you don’t already have a job, get a job as a barista, server, etc. while you look for what you really want to do. They’re much easier to find, and taking three to six months to find a job in your field isn’t unusual. Don’t lose hope, and don’t stop striving. Don’t be afraid to go out for drinks or dinner. You never know who a friend of a friend could be, and that’s how the majority of people find work.