If you are a lover of Japan and Japanese culture, then you must’ve thought about living, working or studying in Japan.
I am 28 years old now, but I became interested in Japan when I was 13 years old. This was primarily because of anime and popular culture. After I stopped watching anime at the age of 18, I began to appreciate Japan for its culture and history.
This year, 2017, I decided that I will try out and apply for agencies to go teach abroad. One thing you should know about me is that I have a hard time stepping out of my comfort zone. However, this time I wanted to see if I can do it and follow through.
I did my research and I found out JET is the best program for foreigners. However, their deadline to submit applications was closed. Naturally, that didn’t stop me so I decided to find other Japanese agencies. As I was searching, I found out about AEON. I read their website and I thought, “wow this sounds great”. I also decided to go online and read reviews about the agency. To my surprise, there were a lot of people saying negative things about this company. People were saying the following:
1) Foreign teachers are used as a scapegoat if the manager is doing poorly.
2) You will never get a pay increase no matter how many years you do it.
-6 month contracts make it difficult for you to plan your future if you depend on the income from this job.
3) Salary is too low, if you have ever had a real job before you will find it hard working for AEON in Japan. Do not do this if you want to save any money.
4) The thing I hated most about working for this company is the lack of respect the management staff has for foreign female workers.
5) The downside of this company is that foreign teachers are expected to just take abuse or disrespect and say nothing about it.
There you go, this is a few of the comments people have wrote online about this company.
I didn’t know what to think, I just assumed that everyone has different opinions and experiences. Then my coworker at my school told me to stay away from this agency because it is terrible. He said to me that there are cases of sexual harassment against female teachers, and the upper management do not do anything to stop this. Yet again, another person was telling me something negative about this company.
So I decided, I would take a look for myself and still apply. So I applied, I received an email to schedule a Skype interview within a week. The interviewer asked me to get up, bow and introduce myself. The Skype interview was about 15 minutes long, and they ask you questions about the company, your work experience and why you want to go to Japan.
I was excited, but also nervous to attend the second interview! The day of the group interview came and I got ready early to go. I prepared notes and studied all of the information they had outlined on the website. The door to the meeting room opened at 9am. I was greeted by the interviewer, she was polite and always smiling. However, my initial thought was that it didn’t seem genuine. The smiles seemed a bit forced, if you tried to make small talk they wouldn’t really participate in it. There was a clear boundary, which is fine but in the past my interviewers were more warm with their interaction.
At the beginning, we were given a form to fill out with our basic information and then we sat down and did small talk with the other candidates. The meeting began at nine o’clock sharp. You see in Japan people are very punctual, so this was the expectation for this interview. I loved that because I am someone who is punctual as well.
The interviewer started off with a self introduction and then it was our turn. We did something called lobby talk, we make small talk with the other applicants and get to know each other. We were in groups of three, and had about three minutes to interact with each other before we moved on to another group. After we completed this exercise, we sat down and the presentation began.
There were slideshows and we were going over everything that AEON does as a company. From the types of teaching lessons they provide, to the work teachers have to do other than teaching. Afterwards, we went over information we need to consider before moving abroad i.e. the financial, emotional side, and health side. After going over all of this, we took a 15 minute break (or 10 minutes if I can recall correctly). Because Japan is a country that’s super punctual, we were expected to be back in the room on time. Punctuality is very important and something the interviewer observed closely. When we returned, the interviewer went over the structure of various types of lessons and we had to participate, while she was giving examples of the proper way of teaching. The way she was explaining everything was done in clear manner and to the point. Then it was our turn to conduct a lesson, so we divided in groups of five (or four, if I can recall correctly). The first lesson was geared towards children, so each one of us had to take turns doing a lesson, while teaching the other group.
After we did that, it was time to do an adult lesson, for this we were asked to leavethe room while the interviewer changed the setup. I cannot remember for how long we waited, but I think it was about five minutes. When we came back inside we had to get into groups again. We were given a sheet of paper with a grammar exercise, and we had to make sure we were conducting the lesson in an interactive manner and make it engaging. I’m not going to lie, it was a bit nerve wrecking and there were candidates who did better but I think I did well too even though I have never been a teacher. Each one of us did this teaching exercise and each candidate had a different sheet. When we were done, we were given a questionnaire which was double sided. On one side we were tested on our grammar i.e. envelope vs. envelop, and there were a few examples like this one. There were a few words where we had to write the definition, and even though I speak English fluently, I caught myself overthinking it because I was nervous. The other side of the questionnaire was about the applicants, I can’t remember the exact questions but it was about why I would like to teach in Japan, something about how my teaching will be different from others and has my start date changed. For the date change, I initially stated that I could start in August but because of my OSAP loan, I had to change it to November.
The interviewer left for a few minutes and then came back with the envelopes that let us know whether or not we are successful candidates or not. Before she gave us our envelopes, we were told the following and I would like to point out I cannot remember everything word for word. It was something like this, “Thank you all for coming today, I would like to let you know getting this far is a great accomplishment. However, now I will give you these envelopes. Please do not share you results and go your separate ways”. I was utterly confused by this statement, why did we have to be so secretive about this? I didn’t like it and I didn’t get a good vibe from this organization. I think by now you can see where this is going, I did not pass the interview. Why? Well, I have a few ideas in mind, 1) changing the start date and 2) being nervous while presenting my lesson.
However, I decided to still email them to ask about some feedback and I got the following response:
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, our company policy doesn’t allow us
to give feedback to our candidates. If you’d like to reapply for a position
with AEON, we ask that you wait 2-3 months before doing so.
Best of luck with your future plans.
Why would a company policy not allow their employers to give feedback to potential employees? I didn’t get it and I think I dodged a bullet here. You may say that a lot of potential employers do not give feedback to people who haven’t passed an interview and that may be true. However, that may be a personal choice, not the company’s choice. That’s why I thought it was strange!
I won’t proceed any further with this company, from what I’ve heard eikawas are not the best but that is decision you have to make for yourself.
So what now? Well, I am going to try with JET one more time to say to myself that I’ve tried everything I could to make this happen. On the other hand, I am ready to become more settled down in life so I am also considering now applying. I guess we’ll see what I’m in the mood for. Sometimes you just have to go with flow.
I want you guys to tell me if you have experience working abroad and what were the pros and cons. Looking forward to your comments!
See you soon with a post about my trip to Jasper, Alberta 🙂