Waaaaaaaaay back in October of last year, I wrote that I was applying for my first job to become an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. The application process is year-long and split into two stages: the initial screening and the interview stage. If you pass the interview stage, you get paired with your contracting organization in Japan and sent to work in whatever school(s) you’re assigned to. You still have to do a little more paperwork after, but at that point, you’re pretty much set.
By the time this post goes live, I’ll be in the middle of the first job interview of my life.
I’ve done other interviews in the past, so I’m not going in tremendously blind.
The first took place in sophomore year of high school when I applied to journalism class. The interview was short, but fun. They asked me what kind of animal I’d be, and I don’t remember the answer. But it made me feel good that I was accepted afterwards, even though I would come to dislike journalism later on.
The second interview of my life took place at Pomona College, a private liberal arts institution. I don’t remember all of what happened at that interview, but looking back, I can see why, if based on the interview alone, I did not get admitted. Although I remember being calm and friendly to the interviewer, I barely remember preparing any questions to ask the interviewer at the end. I broke eye contact frequently. I wore a clean shirt, but I don’t remember if I wore dress shoes or tennis shoes.
Anyway, mistakes were made. It’s all in the past. I don’t think I would have fit at Pomona anyway, so it’s all good.
And more importantly, I have learned from those mistakes.
I bought a new dress shirt, blazer, dress pants, and flats with my mother the week after I found out I got the interview, and every time I wear them, I feel like I’m a completely different person. In the changing room, as I tried on all different kinds of shirts and pieced the outfit together, I almost cried when it all came together. I looked good. I felt good. I felt right. I felt like an adult.
My Japanese speaking knowledge is coming back to me, though I’m practicing my reading skills in the meantime to make sure I understand old things and acquire new things. I’ve also answered some common interview questions, and found that my ease at answering them is giving me confidence.
If, for any reason, I don’t get into the JET Program after all this, I’m fine with it. I’ll keep honing my art skills, maybe look for some local jobs in my area.
And even then, I might get the job and find that I can’t handle the pressure.
But if my experiences abroad have taught me anything, it’s that pain and stress are temporary. Even though something might seem like something else, it is likely not the thing that I think it is or will be. And this isn’t to say that “temporary” means “short” or “fleeting.” There will be times where I’m likely in the hole for a long time before I get out. Feelings are powerful. Sometimes, they’re reliable, and sometimes, they’re not. That’s why I am meditating so much — to remind myself that feelings are feelings, and that my feelings nor anybody else’s reflect who I am. They are a part of me that can help me rather than control me.
In any case, wish me luck, dear readers. The JET Program has a very selective and competitive screening process, but I’ll do my best to show them I’m a proper candidate.