In the past I’ve received some negative questions about my choice of degree and my time on the JET Program. For example:

1. “You got a fun degree, didn’t you?” Asked while applying for a position with a bank in the loan department.

2. “The JET Program was easy, wasn’t it?” Asked while applying to work in human resources for a Japanese company.

These questions caught me completely off guard, mostly by the way they were asked, and I didn’t answer them very well. I think they go beyond the usual practice of asking something uncomfortable to see how you handle the situation, and get close to being insulting and condescending.

I hope I don’t have to ever answer the above type of questions again, but if they do reappear, I’ll be prepared.

1. I worked hard for my degree. I persevered for 4 years to finish it with good grades, while working part time on the weekends. It taught me critical thinking, independence, new perspectives, and it has been useful. Also, I didn’t study just Japanese. I studied statistics, history, business writing, and linguistics. I have knowledge of many different fields because of my degree.

2. The JET Program is different for everyone. Personally, I was given a lot of responsibility in my position. Through my own research I learned how to lesson plan, coordinate with teachers, and make engaging lessons for my students. It wasn’t easy until the very end, after years of practice. Then I left to pursue new challenges.

I like to think that if an employer can’t be positive about my past credentials, then I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway. We can’t all have degrees in business. The world needs liberal arts, too.

On another note, here’s a situation I found myself in that turned out very well:

1. “Describe your duties on the JET Program.” Ok, not too bad…

2. “Repeat what you just said in Japanese.

If you advertise your language ability on your application, you may want to prepare for a situation like this!