Hiroshima JET alum Emily Treasure 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: Emily Treasure
Location in Japan while on JET: Onomichi
Years on JET: 2
Currently living in: Pocatello, Idaho, USA
Current Occupation: Full-time English PhD student, part-time university English instructor/TA
Highlight/funniest part of your JET experience:
There are so many things I loved about JET! I loved my base school in the countryside and the beautiful half hour bus ride through mountains and rice fields to get there. I loved planning trips and going sightseeing all over Japan and in nearby countries. It was fun to go with friends and really built my confidence to travel alone sometimes, too. I walked so much up and down stairs and hills to see temples, shrines, and gardens that I was finally in shape again. I loved making friends with fellow JETs from around the world, and I loved the Japanese friends I made at school, in my community and at church. I loved all the little old ladies in my neighborhood who always waved and called “Okaerinasai” to me when I came home from school.
How the JET Programme has benefited you career-wise:
Being on JET gave me some impressive teaching experience that helped set me in good standing when I applied for graduate school and positions as an English/TESOL teacher. It demonstrates my flexibility, creativity, and passion for what I do as well as my determination to see hard things through. Since I am a small-town Idaho girl originally, JET also gave me the skills and confidence to believe that I can be an effective teacher with students from all over the world in my university classroom.
What transferable skills JET gives you:
Interestingly enough, one of the things I gained from JET that has benefitted me most came from my admiration for and attempt to emulate the stoic Japanese work ethic. As a graduate student, I try to be as diligent in my studies as my best Japanese high school students. When I’ve got a deadline, I remember the dedication of Japanese teachers who never seemed to go home. When my apartment is dirty, I think of all the clean-swept Japanese streets. When it’s cold out, I think of the obaasans carrying their groceries across town to homes with no central heat. I don’t think I’m in any danger of becoming a workaholic myself at this point, but thinking of my time on JET and the people I met there gives me the drive to do things and challenge myself as never before.
What advice would you give to current JETs for getting the most out of the JET experience in order to further their career afterwards:
My entry group received an awesome bit of counsel at Tokyo Orientation. We were told to say yes to everything during our first month or two, so we’d be able to take advantage of all the invitations and opportunities around us before settling into our own comfortable routine. I tried it, and I really appreciated the way it opened up the possibilities to so many things that I thought were out of my comfort zone. Those experiences are the stories I’m still sharing with my students today, and I have become so much more adventurous now than I was before JET. This has made me a much more marketable employee, believe it or not. I really appreciated the training we got at various conferences, and I want to mention the After JET Conference in particular as a fantastic tool for career planning. When I went, I got to meet one-on-one with a former JET who now does my dream job (an English professor and writer/publisher in the States) and ask his advice on how to get there.
Any tips for job hunting after JET?
I have to admit, I didn’t do my job hunting after JET—I did it while I was still there. I had the idea I wanted to continue on to a doctoral program after I had built up some teaching experience on JET, so I kept in contact with my previous college and had the program I wanted to enter picked out. I applied long-distance for funding to pay my tuition and for a teaching job, too, just in case. Luckily, I knew where I was headed at least a month before my time on JET ended. After flying home, I had a few weeks before school started. I’m glad I had something lined up to keep me busy, because reverse culture shock kicked in fast and having new goals to work toward kept me from getting too depressed. I know a lot of people don’t know what they want to do after JET. I think it would be a great help to write down a few possibilities, and then use your down time to start researching requirements and openings, the earlier the better. Apply and see what happens!