Having spent the best part of four years in a chemistry lab, I was acutely aware that I needed other skills to make me attractive to prospective employers. I felt that the JET Programme would provide those skills.
Not really, I didn't feel that my degree was relevant to my application.
When I was told that I would be placed in a small, rural town, I was worried that my lack of Japanese would be a problem. However, the advice from ex-JETs was definitely useful in allaying my fears (and those of my family!).
I was placed in a small rural town about two hours north of Tokyo. The town had very few other English speakers, which was ideal as it gave me a chance to learn about a new language and culture.
My JET year was spent teaching in four Junior High Schools, which was great fun; I couldn't believe how friendly the teachers and students were.
It was fairly easy to settle into life in Japan: most people were extremely friendly and the JET community was very welcoming. At times I felt a little isolated but I believe that this helped me to pick up the language quicker.
I did feel that I was representing the UK, and this was a good precursor to life in the Foreign Office. I think there is a healthy respect for Brits in Japan.
The greatest benefit of the JET Programme was working with Japanese children. I was lucky enough to work in four excellent schools in which the children were so much fun. Never was there a dull moment in the classrooms!
I think JETs can have a huge impact on their communities especially if they are willing to become a part of it. At first, I thought my only role was to simply teach English, but I gradually learned that it was almost as important for the children to just interact with someone from a different background.
The JET Programme provides unique skills that any prospective employer would love to see on a CV: working overseas, learning a hard language and adapting to new situations, to name a few. These skills were vital in securing me a job in the FastStream of the diplomatic service.
The work of the Foreign Office is incredibly exciting. You have a real chance to influence foreign policy and a unique opportunity to travel to world. I spent the first part of this year working as the political officer in Basra, Iraq, which was fascinating. At the moment, I am working in the political section of the British High Commission in Uganda monitoring regional issues.
I try and maintain as close a relationship as I can with Japan. I went back to Japan for a holiday last year to visit friends, and also helped the Japanese Self-Defence Force during my time in Iraq.
I have already made some friends at the Japanese Embassy in Uganda and I hope to have an okonomiyaki-party at my house soon!
I honestly don't know anyone that has regretted going to Japan. It is such a great culture and you will learn so much.