Hiroshima JET alum Katie Ray answers some questions about what she’s been up to post-JET and how the JET experience has helped her. If you’re a JET alum and would like to answer this questionnaire, please email the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Name: Katie Ray
Location in Japan while on JET: Fukuyama-shi
Years on JET: 2
Currently living in: Washington, DC
Current Occupation: Assistant Director of International Student and Alumni Programs at George Washington University
Highlight/funniest part of your JET experience:
Can’t even begin to tell you. Something hilarious happened every single day! Whether it was in the classroom, on the train, or out and about wherever I may have been, my JET experience really taught be to relax, enjoy the moment and have a good laugh. Definitely got some smile wrinkles around the eyes while in Japan–they were well worth it.
How the JET Programme has benefited you career-wise:
Without even realizing it while in Japan, the JET Programme kept me young and aged me all at the same time. While having the time of my life, I met so many people and made wonderful friends–friends from Japan and friends from countries all around the world. From these friends, I learned so much about how to relate to and connect with people who come from different backgrounds. This is often a skill that comes with age, but as JET Programme participants, we must learn to do so earlier than most of our peers back home. So, along with flexibility and organizational skills, the skill of cross-cultural communication is definitely what has been the most beneficial while applying to and starting a new job.
What transferable skills JET gives you:
Along with all those mentioned above, JET really helped me become a better public speaker. I now find myself turning on my “game show personality” that I used when teaching my classes.
What advice would you give to current JETs for getting the most out of the JET experience in order to further their career afterwards:
This may make no sense initially, but hear me out. I think all JETs should fall in love. Not with someone necessarily (unless you do–then good on you!), but fall in love with your school, your students, your friends, your town, your apartment, your lifestyle–anything and all things that you can fall in love with. This general passion and enthusiasm for your life in Japan is by far the most interesting and valuable thing to any potential employer. The fact that you chose to go to Japan and chose to make the most of your experience demonstrates that (no matter your field), you will be a great employee.
Any tips for job hunting after JET?
Don’t bow in your interviews. Believe me–it is more difficult than you would imagine to resist saying, “shitsure shimasu” upon entering and exiting rooms when you first return. Other than that, you should start early! Even if you’re just fine-tuning your resume, crafting cover letters and re-establishing yourself online, I would definitely start doing so now–there is no harm in applying for jobs while in Japan–as the hiring process at many organizations (especially universities!) can take a few months. Also, be prepared to show how you grew during your time in Japan. What new roles and responsibilities did you assume each year? Last, all that being said–I wouldn’t let ANYTHING get in the way of enjoying your last month in Japan–so start perusing job postings early–so you can have a stress-free last summer matsuri-ing!