Hiroshima JET alum Nick Bradley 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: Nick Bradley
Location in Japan while on JET: Mihara City, Hiroshima Prefecture
Years on JET: 4
Currently living in: Tokyo
Current occupation and jobs held since leaving JET:
I’m currently working for JTB as a travel writer, translator and photographer. I work in offices near Shinagawa, but I sometimes take trips for field work to other parts of Japan.
I’ve had a few jobs since leaving JET. After I finished, I went back to the UK and worked for Honda as a coordinator for their New Model Centre in England. My job there was to work on a team that introduced manufacturing processes of new model cars from Japan to the UK factory. Next I moved to work as a translator of Nintendo games in Frankfurt, Germany. There I translated games from Japanese into English. I left to come back to live in Japan and found my current job when I moved back here.
Here’s the website I work on now: http://www.japanican.com
Highlight/funniest part of your JET experience:
Too many to note down here really, but I’ll give it a go…
I really enjoyed the first year I was on JET. There were so many new experiences and it was a great chance to meet new friends from all over the world. Having a chance to travel to other places like Thailand, China, Korea, Hong Kong and Hawaii was great, but then again, travelling within Japan was just as fruitful. Surf trips to Shikoku, onsen in Kyushu, snorkeling in Okinawa and watching the sunrise from Mount Fuji will always remain with me as being memorable moments.
Those were the highlights for me. With regards to funny moments, I suppose you had to be there…
How the JET Programme has benefited you career-wise:
Hmmm, this is also a tough question. I think I’ll be difficult and say, “I don’t think it has.”
For me, personally, I think if I was a completely career-driven kind of guy, I would’ve left JET after one year and gone back to England to enroll in some kind of graduate scheme with a big company or government organization (like a lot of my friends did).
Instead, I chose to stay on JET for four years, and this perhaps harmed my career in the conventional sense of the word. However, I don’t think JET is primarily about developing a person for a conventional career. I think it’s more about developing one’s character. In my time on JET I changed in ways I definitely wouldn’t have done if I’d just gone down the conventional route. I like to think that I developed more patience and understanding. Just imagine what I was like before…
On a serious note, I think JET looks great on your CV and is definitely endearing to employers, but it is really important to think about what other knowledge, solid skills or qualifications you can attain over your time on JET. Don’t think that everything will fall into your lap when you leave. I really respected some of my fellow JETs who took the time to do distance courses or get certification while they were on JET. Make the most of your time, particularly if you are concerned about your career.
What transferable skills JET gives you:
I think this really depends on the person. Here’s what I think I left with:
Organization, public speaking, adaptability, flexibility, leadership, translation & interpretation skills, Japanese 1-kyu, advanced photography & Photoshop skills
What advice you would give to current JETs for getting the most out of the JET experience in order to further their career afterwards:
As I was a bit too serious in the section above about using time wisely, I think I’ll lay off career advice etc. My real advice would be to enjoy your time, but try not to waste it. One of the reasons I came back to Japan was because I felt like I’d wasted my time. If you don’t think you’ll be coming back to Japan in a hurry, make every minute count. If you find yourself meeting up with friends just to complain about things, STOP IT. Plan a holiday to Nagano, Okinawa, Hokkaido, wherever. Learn Japanese and hang out with more Japanese friends (because you might not see them so much when you leave). Plan your next step, and think ahead. Make the best use of your time. There’s nothing worse than looking back on time as being wasted.
Any tips for job hunting after JET?
Start looking sooner rather than later if you don’t want to be sitting around without a job. If you don’t mind being jobless for a while, relax and take your time planning your next step well. I don’t really like the word “networking,” but don’t be afraid to look to friends for help and advice, and remember to always be willing to help out others when they are in need.