The biggest gripe people have with the JET Program is the application. I definitely agree… It’s a monster of an application. (But if you’re serious about applying, don’t let this deter you! It does weed out a few people who can’t even be bothered with the long application.) Interac’s application is probably the polar opposite. It’s a humble online website with only a few pages. It’s pretty straightforward, but I’ll walk you through it, just in case.
- Head on over to their website
- Click the big, red “APPLY NOW” button
- An application form will open (it’s a popunder, in case you think it’s not opening) which asks for your basic information, as well as some questions which may automatically disqualify you from applying (such as having a bachelor’s degree and not having 12 years of formal English teaching)
- You’ll be taken to a new application form, with some of the general information already filled in (like name) and some empty textfields
- There’s a “General Items” section, which includes your personal statement* (it’s a 2500 character limit, so you need to be pretty brief), your start available date, if you’re willing to drive, as well as if you have a valid passport and when it expires
- The next section is “Education History”, which asks for your school, major, graduation date, as well as a section to elaborate on the specifics of your degree (with a 1000 character limit), as well as options to add additional higher education
- The next section is “Languages and Certifications”, which asks which languages you speak as well as the level you speak it at. There’s also an option to add any (teaching) certifications you may have–there’s an option for “Other” certifications (so you could add your CPR certification or whatever technically, I guess…)
- Then, you’ll have the option to add your “Work History”, where you can put your (recent) work history. They don’t really specify here how far back you should go, so you can probably use your discretion here
- Next is the References section. You just have to put the type of reference (academic/professional/Japanese) and their contact information. Be sure to notify your references before you list them here! It’s the polite thing to do… Plus you want to make sure that they’re on the lookout for the questionnaire.**
- You’ll be asked for your “Work Preferences”, which basically just asks for your assignment level preference (elementary, junior high, high school), environment (urban/rural), work region (general area in Japan you’d like to be placed), and the strength of your preference (I went with “high”)
- Almost done! Then they’ll ask ask “Health and Background Check Questions”. This is so much easier than JET because they don’t ask you any medical questions at all. They just ask you to check that you acknowledge the physical requirements of being an ALT. They also ask some criminal background questions and if anyone will be traveling with you to Japan.
- Last section! They just ask you to read the membership agreement between you and Interac. Then you submit and cross your fingers. Just kidding! If you’ve put this much prep into filling out the application, you’ll (probably) be good.
After this, just keep your phone on you for a callback email. According to Interac, the application stage is where they weed out the most applicants, so be sure to take this seriously. Don’t half-ass it or rush through it because you don’t have enough time. Good luck! 🙂
* I reused my JET statement of purpose for Interac. (Not the one I used this year, but the one I used the year prior.) I’ll write a statement of purpose guide in the near future and include my own personal statements as well. However, because there is a 2500 character limit, my JET application didn’t fit, so I really had to cut it down! It was pretty difficult to cut my statement of purpose because I felt like everything was important lol… Remember that this is going to be a key part in what determines if you get a callback from Interac or not, so jam as much as you can in the 2500 character limit. Every letter counts!
**I visited my Japanese teacher after my application and she brought up the Interac reference form. I had listed this teacher as a reference for both Interac and JET, so she had experience with both forms. She told me that the JET reference form was very simple (they just gave a blank page and you could pretty much write whatever you wanted). However, the Interac reference form was a whole different beast. She said it was pretty long and they asked very specific questions, such as “How do you see the applicant coping with the stresses of living abroad?” etc. So be sure to alert your references that they’ll be getting this AND give it to someone who knows your situation well enough to answer specific questions like this