Nov 14

Getting Unstuck: What’s Inside Your Pain Letter?

Jonathan Bissell (Chiba-ken, 1995-2000) is the author of Dream in Color, Think in Black & White: How to Get Unstuck and Fulfill Your Dreams and CEO of High Performance Impact, LLC, an executive coaching firm helping proven and emerging leaders to work happier by learning how to perform at their personal best. He blogs at

If you haven’t heard about them, pain letters are a brilliant way to reach inside an organization and show key decision makers that you understand their pains (the real problems they’re facing) and have the experience and skill set to help solve them.

Although it can be challenging as an outsider to identify the real problems facing an organization, it’s often just as difficult to articulate your own real pains as an insider. Trouble is, it’s easy to waste a lot of time, energy and money when you’re not sure what your real problems are.

pain perspective

So here’s what to do: Use the questions below as a guide, then quickly write yourself a bulleted pain letter describing your pains. You’ll gain tremendous clarity on the real problems you’re facing – and you’ll be better equipped to see your pain from the perspective of an outsider.

  1. Symptom or Cause? When you’re running from one thing to the next, it’s difficult to quickly diagnose whether your pain is a symptom or a cause. So ask yourself this question: If I take away this pain, will the problem still remain? If the answer is yes, then you’re dealing with a symptom – and you need to dig deeper to find the true source of your pain. On the other hand, if your solution eliminates the source of your pain and solves a few other pains as well, then you’re most likely dealing with a cause. Focus your attention on causal pains and you’ll eliminate many of the symptoms as well.

Keep reading…

Oct 9

Getting Unstuck: The 1 Word That Is Holding You Back

Jonathan Bissell (Chiba-ken, 1995-2000) is the author of Dream in Color, Think in Black & White: How to Get Unstuck and Fulfill Your Dreams and CEO of High Performance Impact, LLC, an executive coaching firm helping proven and emerging leaders to identify and consistently leverage patterns of high performance. He blogs at

There’s a word that you’ve been using, and it’s time to let it go. Time to erase it from your vocabulary.

You’re not the only one who uses it. I do, too. We all do. But it’s holding you (and me) back.

It comes up in conversation whenever we talk about our deepest dreams and aspirations. And it’s almost always said with a sigh – a wistful and defeating release of air from the lungs.



So what’s the word?

The word is “Someday,” as in, “Someday I’m going to…”

Just think about the last time you said it or heard it. For me, it happened just a few days ago. A friend of mine shared a magnificent dream that he wanted to pursue – a wonderful dream that’s entirely doable. But then he used that word, “Someday.” And he said it with that wistful sigh that always seems to tag along.

But someday is more than a wistful word loaded with longing. It’s a glass ceiling that’s meant to be shattered, and it’s preventing you from taking hold of your future.

Here are three reasons why “someday” is holding you back:

Continue reading here

Aug 29

Yvonne Thurman-Dogruer (Kagoshima-ken, 1994-95) is a former JETAANY President and Treasurer. She has a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University, had a ten-year career at its Center on Japanese Economy and Business, and ran her own business for a number of years.  Yvonne currently consults for small businesses and start-ups while continuing the full-time job-search, and is an avid sailor.

JETAA NY President in 1999. Columbia grad in 2002. Director at Columbia Business School in 2005. Entrepreneur and business owner in 2008. Now? Unemployed.

Rarely do I say that I’m unemployed. That’s never my response when someone asks what I do. I’m consulting. I’m job-searching. I work from home. All true. I don’t know how to relate to ‘unemployed’ as a status. It’s easier on the ego to instead talk about what I’ve done up until this point. But after a year and a half with no steady paycheck, there is no doubt I am one of the many unemployed in this country, regardless of how the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics might choose to define me. I do consulting work when I can get it, and I continue to look for a full-time, salaried position. I am unemployed.

This summer marked a couple of milestones in my life; 25 years since graduating high school, and 20 years since I was on the JET program. I’ve attended really great reunions — hours full of fun and therapeutic reminiscing about the past. I would come home from them feeling good about reconnecting with those who had played an important role in my personal and professional growth, and proud of the many things I’ve accomplished in life so far. And then comes the question, “where am I now?”. That has me stumped. What are these invisible barriers holding me back from moving forward? This all feels so foreign to me, as I had always felt grounded in my professional life. Every day is a challenge to keep steady, strong, and navigate myself through such an unpredictable environment. And every day, I seem to get through, and continue to look for that thing called a job to give me some sense of stability.

So I chatted with Steven Horowitz a few months back and with his encouragement decided to write for JETwit and reflect on this past year-and-a-half of my professional life, and make some observations about this job market. It’s my hope that while I continue zig-zagging through the murky waters of the New York job hunt and share my experiences, it might help my fellow JET alumni who are going through the same thing. Whether you’ve returned from your Japan stint some decades ago like me, or have come back more recently, if you are job searching now – you will have a voice to contribute here. I do not aim to give advice, only to encourage discussion. Let’s start talking, continue to keep our heads about us, and our humor.  Stay tuned…

Aug 12

Japan/English Bilingual Job Fair (Los Angeles)

Thanks to JET alum Catherine Rackley, who works for DISCO International which produces these conferences around the US, for passing on the info about this job fair.

Posted by blogger and podcaster Jon Dao (Toyama-ken, 2009-12)Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.



We’re gearing up for the Los Angeles Career Forum, our only west coast event of 2014, and want to extend an open invitation to any former JETs interested in using their experience in Japan and Japanese language ability in their careers. Companies are hiring for positions in Japan and elsewhere, requiring varying degrees of Japanese proficiency.

Read More

Jul 24

CFR 2014–2015 International Affairs Fellowship in Japan, sponsored by Hitachi, Ltd.

A nice JET-relevant opportunity, received directly from the Council on Foreign Relations which requested that it be shared with the JET alumni community.

Posted by blogger and podcaster Jon Dao (Toyama-ken, 2009-12)Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.



Founded in 1997, the International Affairs Fellowship in Japan (IAF-J), sponsored by Hitachi, Ltd., seeks to strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation between the rising generations of leaders in the United States and Japan. The program provides a selected group of mid-career U.S. citizens the opportunity to expand their professional horizons by spending a period of research or other professional activity in Japan. Fellows are drawn from academia, business, government, media, NGOs, and think tanks. In cooperation with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the program’s sponsor, Hitachi, Ltd., assists fellows in finding suitable host organizations in Japan. CFR awards approximately three to five fellowships annually.

Read More

Jul 11

By Nick Woolsey (CIR Tottori-ken, 2011-13), an engineer based in Japan who works for Eureka, a Japanese company.

jetwitpic4The time is right to start your career in Japan

The JET Program has always worked very hard to provide its participants with a smooth entry into Japan, support during their tenure, and facilitation for the transition back to their countries of origin.  It is a wonderful and incredibly organized teaching exchange system, but the primary pattern is, however, to finish the program and life in Japan at the same time.  Every year, a large percentage of those participants ending their tenure feel pained as they leave the country they have grown to love, and a few find ways to stay or come back.  That is about to change.

The few JETs (and other foreigners) who brave working life in Japan after their initial contract have found it difficult to find gainful employment outside the education industry because there simply hasn’t been demand for it.  Other than the JET Program, the education system in its entirety is also highly organized, standardized, and rigid in its timeline: by far the optimal time to find employment is directly after high school or college.  Even an extra year or two spent studying abroad or getting a master’s degree has been looked down upon more often than one would suspect.  In addition, changing companies was seen as almost as disgraceful as a samurai betraying one’s feudal lord, and there was no such thing as work/life balance because life was one’s work and one’s company.  Japanese companies have been designed to hire from this homogenous talent pool and allow for gradual training and growth with seniority.  Participants in the JET Program were not meant fit in this system.

jetwitpic1Since finishing the JET Program in 2011, I have learned that at the ground level, small and medium sized businesses, that system is now finally increasingly ready for change.  While not newsworthy yet, Japan’s workforce crisis has started.  A number of social and economic factors, all heavily linked to the aging population, seem to be causing the Japanese human resource talent pool to shrink and maybe worsen.  Small businesses especially feel this blow because the best hires often go to larger companies, whose human resource demands have not decreased.  As the total number of working people decrease, therefore, larger businesses take up an even greater percentage of talented employees, leaving less desirable employees and unmet demand in human resources. Read More

May 31

JETwit Job Hunter Support Project

Autumn Widdoes (Okinawa-ken 2010-2014), a writer with a focus on performance and film, will soon return to the job market.  She’d like to put her four years of experience in Japan to good use in future employment.

Hi everyone!

We’re starting an innovative new feature on JETwit to help job-hunting JETs and JET alums with their job searches. We want to post stories and experiences of the post-JET job search in ways that can be helpful to both the profiled job-seeker and to JET/alum readers. If you’d like to have your profile considered, please submit the following information using the Google Form at this link:

FYI, here are the questions being asked on the Google Form:

1. What kind(s) of job(s) are you looking for, and where?
2. What have you do so far in terms of job searching?
3. What have been some of the challenges? What have you found that was positive?
4. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned along the way so far?
5. What would be most helpful for you at this point to help you get a job?
6. Optional:  Link(s) to your online resume/CV/LinkedIn profile and/or website/blog.

We’ll periodically post your stories and hopefully this will be helpful to readers and enable others in the JET alum community to help you.

If you have any questions or problems with the Google Form, please email Autumn Widdoes at jetwitjobhunter [at]



May 30

Life After JET: Gabai Life!-Educational Journeys of an Ex-JET from Saga

By Jose Ariel Ramos (Saga-ken, 1998-2001).  Jose recently moved to Central Texas where he now works as a recruiter for a charter school.

Gabai Life!-Educational Journeys of an Ex-JET from Saga

“To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.”

-Robert Louis Stevenson

I reach for my phone. I want to check my email. I’m pretty sure there is something important there-a job lead, a response from a recruiter, a rejection, an actual offer. I put it back on the table. I go back to re-writing my resume and looking on JETwit, on Idealist, on Linkedin, on many other websites where jobs are posted. Again. Again. Again. Maybe this time I’d get a yes.

This has been my life for the past eight months: re-writing my resume; re-arranging the cover letter; sending all required documents in; filling in another online form at another job application site. I’ve applied to teaching positions in Japan, Oman, Korea, Singapore, China. I’ve applied to be director for different university overseas programs. I’ve applied to grad school. I’ve probably applied for no less than two hundred or so jobs-I’d lost count a while ago. I’ve gotten about six interviews but no luck. “How did I get here?” I’d find myself asking.

I got on JET right after graduating university with a Music and French degree in 1998. With an open mind and plenty of optimism I went to Saga ken as an ALT to find out what Japan was like. At that time cellphones were just starting to be widely used, dial-up was the common way to connect on the net, and we were still making long distance telephone calls on landlines. Saga was a rural place that had it’s own unmistakable dialect-“Gabai oishika!” I would find myself saying after a meal (Really delicious!). I made plenty of mistakes but made plenty of friends, and I had incredible experiences. The first times I went snowboarding, white-water rafting, even bungee jumping were in Japan. Three years of adventure with other adventurous people. I decided back then that that was the kind of life I wanted to live-a life of voyage, excitement, freedom.

I came back home in 2001 right before 9/11, Read More

May 21

JETAA UK – Recent Careers and Networking Events

A recap of some of JETAA UK’s recent career-oriented activities.  Stay tuned for more to come. Posted by blogger and podcaster Jon Dao (Toyama-ken, 2009-12)Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.


Robert Walters Japan UK Careers Seminar, London
Organised by JETAA Careers and Networking Coordinator Anna Dingley, this event was the 2nd of our UK Japan Careers Seminars and featured JETAA members Jon Fisher and Joachim Stubbs from Greenback Alan LLP, Adrian Cohen from Tazaki Foods and Michael Shearer, British Consulate to Western Japan, sharing their experiences of using the JET experience in their jobs. There were also speakers from Mitsubishi Corp CSR, Daiwa Securities and Ippudo, sharing their experiences of how nurturing other skills apart from Japanese language ability was important too. David Swann, MD of Robert Walters Japan, said “JETs are very employable in Japan in our office because of their in-depth knowledge of the country and their immersion in the culture”. This was followed by networking drinks and nibbles- thank you so much for everyone who attended.

Rebuilding Japan Airlines-The Inamori Way
Director of University of Oxford Japan Office and JETAA member Alison Beale organised a lecture for the legendary Japanese business leader Dr Inamori to speak at Oxford in May. Dr Inamori, who, at the age of 78, turned JAL around after it went bankrupt in 2010, chose Oxford for his first public European lecture. The Sheldonian theatre was full of British and Japanese people, some from the companies Dr Inamori had previously setup-KDDI, Kyocera and of course JAL. He spoke about the principles and philosophy he created during his career which he drew upon with JAL by always acting in the right way as a human being and enabling a clear understanding of a common goal amongst the employees to get them to work together effectively toward a successful result. It was indeed a successful result as JAL became one of the most profitable airlines in the world. JETAA UK Chair Sarah Parsons and Careers and Networking Coordinator Anna Dingley also attended the reception afterwards.

To get more information about careers and networking events around the country, please make sure your details on our website are up to date so you receive our mailshots, check our events on the website and follow us on facebook, twitter and Linkedin @JETAAUK. If you would be interested in organising, speaking at or letting us know about networking events in your area, please contact us on careers @

May 14

DISCO International Japanese company Job Fair – Sat, June 14 (NYC)

Thanks to JET alum Catherine Rackley (Chiba-ken, 2005-06) who works for DISCO International, for sharing info about their upcoming Career Forum in NYC.  FYI, many JET alums have found jobs through previous DISCO Career Forums. Posted by blogger and podcaster Jon Dao (Toyama-ken, 2009-12)Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.



JET Alumni– Companies Are Seeking You at an Upcoming Career Forum Hiring Event

Want to put your experience in Japan to work and use your Japanese language skills right here in the U.S.? Register now for the first ever Career Forum for working professionals featuring domestically-situated companies and positions. Participating companies are specifically seeking highly-qualified Japanese/English-speaking candidates ready to work throughout the U.S. Take advantage of this ground-breaking event and don’t miss a beat in finding exciting employment opportunities tailor-made to your skills and experience. Read More

May 14

TOMODACHI 2014 Emerging Leaders Program Info – Apply Now

Thanks to AJET Chair Kay Makishi for passing along this great post-JET opportunity. Posted by blogger and podcaster Jon Dao (Toyama-ken, 2009-12)Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.



Deadline: June 15!

The U.S.-Japan Council’s TOMODACHI Emerging Leaders Program invites a select group of young Japanese American professionals from across the country to participate in a leadership orientation program and attend the U.S.-Japan Council’s Annual Conference and Annual Members Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii. Selected applicants will receive transportation, hotel accommodations and complimentary Conference registration. Read More

Apr 30

Sydney Career Forum

Just saw on the JETAA New South Wales email newsletter that there will be a career forum in Sydney for Japan-related jobs.  More details below. Posted by blogger and podcaster Jon Dao (Toyama-ken, 2009-12)Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.



Partner Event – Careers in Japan – Sydney Career Forum 2014

Start: 10 May 2014 10:00am
End: 11 May 2014 5:30pm Read More

Mar 31


Very nice article on JET alum and former AJET Chair Matthew Cook (Osaka-fu, 2007-12) about his path from JET to becoming an agent of change for the Japanese English education system through is unique role with Osaka Prefecture’s Board of Education.  Matt is also the founder of the Kansai JET Alumni group.  FYI, you can also click here for a recent JQ profile of Matthew Cook by JETAA New South Wales Eden Law (Fukushima-ken, 2010-11) 

Changing the system starts by challenging it


Just seven years after first participating in the JET program in Osaka, Matthew Cook from Danville, Virginia, is making great strides as a pioneer of English-language education reform in Japan. Having never previously been to an Asian country, Cook is now one of seven members of Osaka’s groundbreaking English Reformation Project Team, having been appointed by Osaka superintendent Toru Nakahara in 2013. With an unswerving commitment to English-language education and a little luck, Cook’s efforts may pave the path for Japan’s next generation of global leaders.

Cook applied to the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) program because it was “the most lucrative, stable and safe way to get to Japan.” Having run his own karate dojo in the United States, he felt the need to gain a deeper understanding of the Japanese culture behind it. However, Cook was waitlisted and needed to make a snap decision when he was offered a position within a month of the JET start date. “I had totally assumed that I wasn’t going to get in,” he says.

Cook’s initial placement was less than ideal, though. He was forewarned that the Osaka junior high school to which he was assigned might be challenging, but he was not prepared for the “few students who were stopping class altogether, violence in the classroom or kids getting up and leaving.” Read More

Jan 28

Japan Times: “Japanese firms mostly unaware of benefits of hiring from JET ranks: poll”

Article from the Japan Times about a Keizai Doyukai survey that indicates that Japanese companies are behind the curve compared to foreign companies with regard to hiring JET alumni, even though they possess qualities such as familiarity with Japanese language and culture than many Japanese companies need.  

Note to Japanese companies:  If you want to reach JET alumni, it’s as easy as e-mailing your job listings to jetwit [at]  It’s the best way to disseminate your job listings since JETwit jobs posts get echoed by JETAA chapters, and it’s free!

Japanese firms mostly unaware of benefits of hiring from JET ranks: poll



Japanese companies are less aware than their foreign counterparts of the government-sponsored Japan Exchange and Teaching Program and are thus missing out on an opportunity to hire foreigners who have the skills they need, a recent survey by a major business lobby showed.

The Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), which conducted the survey released Friday, noted that domestic companies need to strategically hire former JET teachers and urged the government to create a mechanism to facilitate match-making opportunities for them.

The Keizai Doyukai survey, carried out between late November and December, said that only 18 percent of the 167 responding domestic companies knew about the JET program, and that only nine had hired former JET personnel.

By comparison, 83 percent of the 23 foreign companies and embassies who responded said they knew about the program and had employed past JETs. Read More

Jan 16

JET Alumnus to Give Encore Lecture on Student Loan Debt in NYC


Writer, researcher, and JET alumnus Matt Leichter (Saitama-ken ’03-’05) will give an encore performance of his lecture, “College Education: Certain Debt, Uncertain Income.” It will again be hosted by the Henry George School of Social Science in New York City. The event date is Wednesday, January 29, at 6:30 PM. The location is not the school’s normal address; instead it will be at:

NYC Seminar and Conference Center

71 West 23rd Street (corner of 6th Ave.)

New York, NY 10010

Here is the lecture’s abstract:

Soaring costs for education, together with limited job opportunities and stagnant wage growth, place substantial financial and psychological burdens on students.

Noted columnist and researcher Matt Leichter reviews tuition inflation, cuts in public funding and the business of lending to students. Mr. Leichter will also propose reforms to the system of financing college education.

Space is limited; please register to attend by emailing

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