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Mentors

One-on-one support for returnees

Readjusting to life in the UK after the JET Programme can have its ups and downs. That’s why some JET alumni have become mentors, to give returning JETs some support. All of them have successfully navigated the experience of establishing a new life in UK while missing Japan. Read on to find out if they can help you or contact chair@jetaa.org.uk if you are interested in becoming a mentor.

Rachael Cole

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JET Experience: ALT, Kyoto (2014-15)
Current industry: Travel and tourism
Availability: Reach out by LinkedIn, Facebook or email.
Location: Oxfordshire
Contact: cole.rachael@gmail.com

“I returned to the UK in August 2015 after spending a year on the JET Programme teaching English at elementary and junior high schools in Uji, Kyoto. I had such a fantastic time in Japan, forging memories that will be impossible to forget. I knew that my love for Japan and its quirks was something that I really wanted to keep developing in the UK.

“My passion for the country led me to think about work related to Japan in one way or another but my Japanese language skills are pretty limited, making working for a Japanese company difficult.

“Using a recruitment agency, I eventually found a job as a Japan country specialist at Audley Travel, in Oxfordshire. Now I get to spend every day telling others how wonderful Japan is, and persuading them they should definitely visit. I think you’d all agree!

“I know that coming back to the UK and figuring out what to do next isn’t the easiest time so if you would like any help or advice, please get in touch with me.”

George Stanley

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JET Experience: ALT, Nara (2010-11)
Current Industry: Public sector, creative industries
Availability: Meet-ups over coffee or remotely
Location: London
Contact: george.stanley@gmail.com

"I was on the JET Programme for one year, working between two high schools in Nara. My time on JET was incredible and easily qualifies as one of the best years of my life.

“There were a lot of occasions in Japan where I was thrust into situations and challenges with little preparation (ranging from helping my school prepare a bid for additional funding to spending a day speaking Japanese at a BBQ with a team of local pharmaceutical employees). More than anything, my time on JET gave me the skills and confidence to adapt to any situation and to meet challenges head on.
“Back in the UK, I was really interested in politics so I applied for a graduate scheme in the civil service. My experiences on JET definitely contributed to my success on this application.

“I now lead on developing policy for the virtual reality sector in the UK, and I do a lot of work with the video games and animation industries in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. This gives me a lot of contact with my Japanese counterparts. At the end of last year I hosted a delegation of people from NHK to talk about their approaches to digital media.

“I'm happy to talk to any former JETs interested in the public sector or in working in the creative industries. It can be bizarre coming back to the UK and having to find a job from scratch, but I've been there and would love to help if I can.”

Samantha Taylor

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JET Experience: Five years, followed by five years in other employment in Japan
Availability: Contact by email
Contact: samanthasensei@gmail.com

“I have been back in the UK for two years and am still adjusting. I think people forget how long it can take. I sometimes feel bad talking about Japan this and Japan that, but it's unavoidable because that's where I was for a decade!

“I think building UK-based foundations while not forgetting or dismissing your Japanese life is the best way to continue after returning ‘home.’”

Cat Bailey

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JET Experience: Ibaraki (2008-10)
Current industry: Publishing and editing
Availability: Meet-ups in the area
Location: Oxford
Contact: catbailey0304@hotmail.com

“I moved back in with my parents following JET while I looked for a job. Moving back in with my parents after having my own apartment was an adjustment and I felt a bit lost when I first got back and tried to decide between the pre-JET plan of publishing, which is not the easiest career nut to crack, or working for a Japanese company and maintaining my links with Japan.

“I worked as an admin assistant for the JET programme, which eased me back into UK life gently as I could chat to my heart's content about how awesome Japan is. I took the best part of a year to get a “proper job,” doing some interning and bitty jobs along the way.

“After a year, I moved cities and began my career in publishing. I still work for the same publisher but have changed jobs a few times. I now edit ELT materials and work with a lot of other ex-ELT teachers. It's great. We spend a lot of time swapping classroom war stories and eating international food - it's probably one of the few British offices where I could get away with eating natto at my desk.

“As part of my job I have also done some coaching and mentoring training, which I've really enjoyed. I live in Oxford so can meet with people nearby.”

Karl English

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JET Experience: ALT (1995-2001)
Current industry: Human resources
Availability: To mentor one or two people. Contact by email.
Location: London
Contact: jkenglish747@googlemail.com

“I came back to the UK in 2001 after six years as a JET and then a private English teacher. My first job was administrator for a small Japanese travel agency. I developed the HR function while funding myself through a foundation-level Certificate in Personnel Practice and then a Masters degree in Human Resource Management.

“I have worked in HR for Japanese organisations in a variety of industries. I currently work for Les Ambassadeurs, London’s premier casino, as a bi-lingual (English/Mandarin) HR Business Partner.

“With over 15 years of HR experience and knowledge, I want to assist returnees with the challenges they face on returning to the UK.”

Catriona MacArthur

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JET Experience: ALT, Kagoshima (2010-12)
Current industry: Education, particularly higher education
Availability: Meet-ups in person or chat by phone
Location: South London
Contact: catriona_mac@hotmail.com

“I’m not sure my life will ever be quite as cool as it was in the “tropical south” of Japan: I had my own house, my own car, a vending machine opposite my front door - I was living the dream!

“Even though it was my choice to leave Japan and my ALT role, I was devastated when it came to travelling back to Scotland. I remember crying for the majority of the plane journey home and then again when my parents picked me up at the airport. Japan really gets a hold of you.

“The first few months of being back in the UK were really hard. I think the quicker you get a new job, the easier it is to adjust. Unfortunately for me, my options were limited in rural Scotland where I had moved back to with my parents. It slowly came together though. Three internships later, including one in Brussels, I finally got my first permanent job in London working for a global scholarship programme. Three years later, I’m still there, having worked my way up to my ideal role.

“I am now an International Liaison Officer for Chevening. My role involves supporting British embassies and high commissions in a portfolio of countries with all stages of the scholarship application cycle. Some of my responsibilities include marketing (presenting to prospective applicants and potential partners, as well as participating in media interviews), interviews (sitting on the selection interview panels in various countries) and budgeting (managing each country's budget to ensure it remains within its allocation from central government). My portfolio includes west and central Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean. I've visited some of the countries in my portfolio as part of my role, which has been a fascinating insight into the diplomatic world; my visit to the British embassy in Tokyo with JET was all in preparation for this!

“I went back to Kagoshima in 2014 for a two-week holiday. This was the perfect time to go back because firstly, I’d adjusted to life back in the UK by this point and secondly, because there were still ALTs working in my city that I knew from when I had been an ALT. This enabled me to relive that JET life that I had loved so much. The trip also helped me to realise that Japan isn’t going anywhere. Next visit: Tokyo 2020!

“I’m happy to chat to anyone but might be of most help to people looking to stay in the education sector, particularly higher education.”

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