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Edel Carleton is JET Coordinator for the Embassy of Japan in Ireland. After spending time in Japan working as an assistant language teacher, she now recruits people for the Japan exchange and teaching programme.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
I think the biggest career milestone for me so far has been changing my mind! I have always had a huge interest in languages and traveling, and studied German and Japanese in University. I spent my third year studying in Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, but when I returned home I thought that I would never live in Japan again - it was too far and too different. However after a couple of years of working in Dublin, I decided to move back to Japan on the JET Programme which was one of the best decisions and biggest milestones I've crossed so far in my career.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
How did you go about getting your current job?
There is a new JET Coordinator selected each year, and an email is usually sent out to current Irish JETs in Japan, so when I had made my decision to move back home again I decided to apply for the position that year. As I was still in Japan when I was applying, I had my interviews for the position over Skype. I found out I was successful for the position in May, finished up on the JET programme and returned to Ireland in August and began working at the Embassy at the beginning of September.
Describe a typical day?
One of my favourite things about this job is that there isn't really a typical day! The work of the coordinator goes through different phases throughout the year, so at the beginning of the year there will be a lot of planning and organising of documents and events. There will then be the promotional phase when I travel around the country promoting the JET Programme at universities and careers fairs. Next the applications come in and the coordinator processes them and arranges for the screening and interviews for applicants.
Then there is the selection and orientation of all the new JETs, and finally sending them off to Japan on their own new adventure! Throughout all of this I make sure all of the databases are kept up to date, answer any enquiries to the JET Desk and help out with other Embassy events. There's always something new to learn and enjoy which has kept this job exciting!
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
What are the main challenges?
As JET Programme Coordinator there is a lot of work to be done, and you really hit the ground running, as promotion usually begins soon after the new Coordinator begins. It's also really important to stick to deadlines, and make sure that the applicants are doing the same! This means that it's really important to prioritise your tasks, and to be prepared for travelling and long days.
Having already been on the JET Programme myself, it's great to be able to promote and tell more people about it, and give more people the opportunity to get involved in something that was one of the best experiences of my life! Also, working in the embassy is quite interesting and there are a lot of events to get involved in - for example this year I was able to help out with the Japanese Film Festival and the Yoshida brothers concerts which were exciting!
What's not so cool?
Although it's been interesting travelling to different parts of Ireland, I can't say that I have gotten used to having to get up super early in order to travel for hours to get to my destination on time! Office work can also build up during the days you are travelling so when you get back there's often a lot to do!
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
Communication skills are obviously very important for this job as you are promoting the JET Programme and have to give presentations and talk to a lot of different people about the programme. However, just as important as that are office skills. For the most part, the JET Coordinator is working in the office, so it's essential to have good computer skills. Microsoft Office, Excel and Access skills and the ability to prioritise and schedule tasks well are really important.
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
What is your education to date?
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
Although Japanese was not necessary for either the JET Programme or working as the JET Programme Coordinator, I think it did help a lot for both positions. Having spent time abroad through my studies as well also gave me a lot of important experience and made me a much more open and adaptable person which I think is transferable to any job I could work in.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
When I first moved to Japan on the JET Programme I had no experience with teaching and wasn't sure how well I would get on in the schools I was going to work in. Over the two years I spent in Hiroshima, I learnt a lot, and found that I was really able to help the students not only improve their English, but become more interested in learning about other cultures. For me, the biggest reward would be knowing that my students continue to be interested in foreign languages and cultures long after I'm gone and they've finished school.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Working as JET Coordinator can be quite hectic as I have to visit lots of different universities and often have to get up early or don't get home until late, but it's nice to still be in a Japanese work environment after coming back from Japan - a great way to ease myself back into Irish society without as much reverse culture shock being home.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?