JET Personal Statement Sample Plus Hints and Tips
Previously posed on my former Blogger, this was by far my most popular post. Because it’s helped so many people, I’ve reposted it here.
While I chose to go with Interac over JET, I still answer a lot of questions about the application process. The number one question I get about the JET Program is: what was your personal statement?
What’s the point of a personal statement?
Like it or not, your personal statement is the most important part of your application to the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. It’s your opportunity to showcase who you really are and express yourself and your passions.
Everyone is going to fill out an application and submit a personal statement. The strict format of the JET Program application doesn’t allow much room to express yourself or highlight your best qualities. But your personal statement does.
It’s a place to give you free reign to talk about anything you like. If you feel that your application isn’t very strong, the personal statement is a great place to beef it up. Take any weak spots in your application and emphasize what you can bring to the table instead.
What makes a good personal statement?
You can find a million guides out there on how to write a good personal statement. You probably had to submit one when you were applying to universities. You may have had to write one when applying for scholarships.
Should you reuse those? Probably not. Because the most important part of crafting a good personal statement is making sure it is relevant. Talking about what adversities you had to face growing up and how they made you a better person isn’t going to help you much here.
This is a program for teaching English and exchanging cultures in Japan. Focus on that! If you have teaching experience, highlight that. If you’ve gone to Japan or spent significant time abroad, mention it to show that you can handle living outside of your home country. Anything that shows you are in line with the JET Program’s credo should go in your personal statement!
Just don’t make it come across as a rambling list or that it reads like a resume. It’s a personal statement and it should show some of your personality. Do you remember in your high school English classes, when they emphasized finding your voice? Your voice should shine! (Easier said than done, though, isn’t it?)
Lastly, remember that you should be specific. Don’t generalize saying “how much you’ve always loved Japan.” Talk about concrete examples of how you loved Japan by “deciding to major in Japanese” or “achieved your dream of climbing Mt. Fuji and watching the sunrise.”
What should/shouldn’t you include?
Obviously, JET doesn’t post a list of what they’re looking for in a personal statement. These observations are my own based on personal experiences as well as what I’ve read online. Your common sense should trump this list; you make the final call.
Relevant Experience: Describe applicable experiences, professional skills, relevant interests and personal qualities, and how you feel these will be useful to you as an ALT or CIR.
Motivation for Participation: State why you wish to go to Japan and participate in the JET Program and why you are interested in the position for which you are applying. Also address what you hope to gain, both personally and professionally, and what effect you hope to have on the Japanese community and internationally as a result of your participation in the JET Program.
Cultural exchange programs (clubs, study aboard, hosting exchange students, etc.)
Abroad experience and what you learned
Why you’re interested in Japan
Iffy to include
Anime/manga (even if this is what got you interested in Japan, they don’t want weebs. They want to see how anime encouraged you to study Japanese, or get interested in Japanese culture, etc.)
Negative things like bad grades or how you’re afraid to fly
Criminal activities, even if you weren’t convicted or jailed
❗❗❗ I would like to stress that this is my personal statement, and therefore tailored by me to fit my life experiences and personality. Please don't just copy this, but instead use it as an opportunity to see an essay that can get you past the first round of the interview process.
I hope this will be helpful for you. It’s a bit embarrassing to put up something that I’ve written almost five years ago. But I want to show you that you don’t need to be a wordsmith to get into JET. Just be open and honest and enthusiastic.
If you're looking at this and getting ready to apply to JET, good luck! Just be confident in yourself and remember, it's about selling yourself and proving you'll be a good fit for their company’s requirements!