Confessions of a Junior High School English Teacher Part I: Fearsome Job Hunt

In the summer of 2010 I was an anxious college grad, and like most anxious college grads, the reason for my anxiety lied in my uncertain future. I knew I wanted to live in Japan, but my JET application was already met with nary a phone call, and all the job openings on Gaijin Pot wanted you in the country with a work visa. Four years later, I’m typing this post from my apartment in the Adachi ward of Tokyo, and have been living in Japan for two and a half years, with no real plans to go back the States–information which I am sure would have calmed the fears of a younger me in 2010.

How did I get here, and what have I been doing? The answers to these questions and more will be revealed in this new series of posts:

CONFESSIONS OF A JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH TEACHER

Yes, that’s how I made a living in this country for the past two years and change. I’ve always been coy around the nature of my stay over here when asked, but now that I’ve completed what is for most gaijin the first rite of passage towards establishing a life here, I intend spill my whole story up until now, with as many bloody details as I can recall for anyone else looking to work in Japan, or for anyone who’s simply interested.

Back to 2010: I was looking around for a gig at a Japanese public school, but outside of JET, I didn’t know of many other outfits. I tried to find openings through companies that friends had been employed at, but I was met with silence on all fronts. Finally someone dropped a name on me that I could use: Interac. I looked at the website, and it was the most legit thing I had seen so far, so I applied and hoped for the best. On my first time I was actually turned down–I had applied for a September position so I could work right out of college, but it seemed as if there was too much demand and not much supply. However, I was told to apply again for the April hiring season, and it was then that I struck gold.

In August of 2010 when I was lying around my parents’ house taking some time off before an internship I had in September, I was selected for a phone screening with Interac. After a twenty-minute exchange with the interviewer out of my father’s car in a Whole Foods parking lot, I was invited to a face-to-face interview on the spot–most likely because I spoke with noticeably more enthusiasm and confidence than interviewer herself. Fast-forward about two months: I’m in a city in New Jersey called Secaucus (which I had never heard of, mind) and I’m sitting awkwardly in a suit that I have barely worn in some weird hotel with a bunch of other people who are also all chasing their dreams of living in Japan.

Interac’s face-to-face interview takes the shape of a group info session followed by individual interviews. Once invited to one of these interviews, you’re given a choice of which region closest to you to take the interview. Seeing as I was interning in New York, this weird-ass place called Secaucus was the closest place for me. For this interview one has to prepare a short demo lesson that is to be filmed, and as someone who has never done anything like this before and is prone to nervousness, I was shitting my pants. But not for too long–everyone was nice, and the person giving the info session and interviewing us was very supportive and friendly, so it wasn’t an awful experience in the least.

I am unable to recall the order, but after the info session we were given a simple English test to determine if we’re actually somewhat qualified to teach our native language, asked to do our demo lessons, then placed one-on-one with Mr. Interviewer. This was my first real interview experience, so I was pretty on-edge and worried about the outcome. It being years later, I honestly cannot remember what I was asked, but I’m pretty sure it was your typical interview questions. Given a putz like me got this job, I say it’s fine to just go in there with confidence and enthusiasm, because I’m sure that’s basically all they’re looking for.

After all was said and done, I shared a coffee with all the other candidates (save the weird one–there was a weird one, as there always is). We wished each other good luck, and looked forward to seeing each other at training.

A couple of months passed, and near the end of December I got would could be described as a fucking great early Christmas present: A job offer. With training on the horizon in April of the next year, I was happily looking forward to my new life in Japan, and wondering if there would be any familiar faces at the training session. However, turns out I wouldn’t be seeing anyone in April. Hell, I wouldn’t even be in Japan.

What happened? Well, I’m sure a quick recall of major events in Japan in 2011 will lead you to an answer, but at any rate, look forward to the exciting second part of this long saga!

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10 Responses to Confessions of a Junior High School English Teacher Part I: Fearsome Job Hunt

  1. dandan says:

    Nice cliffhanger you got there! (though a sad one). Looking forward to hearing the rest of the story, it’s always fun to know about how the gaijins are doing (and apparently the Japanese agree, given how popular TV Tokyo’s YOUは何しに日本へ? is).

    I was hoping to apply later this month for a scolarship involving the university I go to and a Japanese technical institution (a 3 month stay in Japan doing undergraduate research), but a couple months ago I got into a nice internship that will probably turn into an actual job position in a field I’m supposed to like, so I had to give up on Japan. Still kinda regret it though. I’ll probably have to enjoy Japan as just a tourist.

    Anyway, reading your posts makes me feel good, especially since you sometimes cover somewhat obscure stuff (like that OLH concert from a while ago). Good read!

    • wah says:

      Glad you like the blog!

      Japan is probably just fine as a tourist. I couldn’t really tell you, since I’ve never actually been here as one! But all the people I know that come over seem to have fun. Just make sure you know someone over here to show you around, or ask people online where The Cool Stuff is instead of just relying on guide books and stuff.

  2. omo says:

    I hope you do make it all the way to the end of this series of posts. If anything it would be a fun trip down memory lane.

  3. Kraker2k says:

    As someone who was looking into this same exact thing a few weeks ago since job prospects were low (still have a hankering for it to be fair) I am greatly anticipating more of your posts!

    • wah says:

      Yeah, one of my goals with this series is to provide a full picture of what the experience is like from start to finish, so people interested can make a informed decision on whether they should try the job out or not. Of course every experience is different…

      Also, another aim of this series is to keep the perspective as balanced as possible. I think most of the ALT stories one reads online are very negative, so I want to write something that just tells it like it is, without the whining.

      • Anonno says:

        Hmm…

        I’m starting to think we should pretend we never saw ANY of the mistakesofyouth comics.

        Or else we’re going to be on the fence about if we should light the torches and get the pitch forks ready with the JC aspect, heh.

  4. slimy says:

    “It was a time of depression that has kind of faded into a blur now, so we’ll just skip past that part. I probably should have used that time to study my Japanese, but I was too busy re-loading Twitter and basically wasting my time. ‘

    Story of my life.

    Fun read. Looking forward to part 3!

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