A (Probably Uninteresting) Tale of Two Interviews: AEON

With graduation behind me and no job lined up, I spent my summer trying to figure out what I could do with my life. My eventual goal is to become a translator, but I need more study for that. So, I want to be an English teacher in Japan for a while. However, most of these jobs require you be in Japan in order to interview. I definitely don’t have the funds for that.

AEON, one of the largest English conversation school chains in Japan, however, conducts interviews in various American cities. I had enough money to go somewhere within America. I applied to their San Francisco interview, and it didn’t take long for me to hear that I’d gotten the interview. I started researching what the AEON interview would look like. I had less time to prepare than I had for JET, but I was still going to do my best.

This interview involved creating a mock lesson plan for beginners of English. I’ve never written a lesson plan in my life. I asked everyone I could think of for help, and I eventually came up with something. I spent a few days printing out flash cards and talking about past-tense to an invisible class.

Then the day came and I headed to the airport. Once again there were threats of delays, this time due to storms. Great. This time I was actually delayed. It was a good thing I’d decided to fly out the night before. I arrived at the airport around one in the morning. The terrible motel I was staying at was near the airport, but I still had to shower. By the time I was ready for bed it was around two. I had to wake up at seven. The number I’d received from the cab driver the previous night didn’t work – I had a mini panic attack before the sleepy woman working at the front desk of the motel called a cab for me. I managed to make it on time.

The interview itself was held in an Embassy Suites hotel. Having just graduated college, I couldn’t afford to stay in the hotel itself. It was super swanky. It was on a different level than the motel I was staying in. I half expected most people inside to be dressed nicely, but really, these were mostly just families on vacation. I followed a trickling river of people in business attire to the room where the interview was to be conducted.

The first half of the AEON interview is an information session. It lasts from about nine until noon. They go over all the basics of living in Japan as a foreigner, what life is like as a teacher, how best to teach, etc. They even give a sample lesson. It was around this time that I realized the lesson plan I’d made was way different than what they were looking for. The examples they gave were simple listen-and-repeat type exercises. I’d built in an explanation of the grammar, which was entirely unnecessary. I’d also made too many vocabulary words.

When we were dismissed for lunch, I went with one of the other interviewees to a cafe inside the hotel. I was starting to yawn from my lack of sleep. I also hadn’t eaten anything but a muffin for breakfast. I knew I had to be peppy for the mock lesson – that was another big thing they said was important. Always be enthusiastic, almost hyper. I ordered a cup of coffee. Mind you, I never drink coffee. All it managed to do was make me jittery.

In the mock lesson portion the interviewees were split up into groups of five who then gave lessons to each other. Everyone in my group had known what kind of lesson to give. My lesson remained too complex, and since I’d tried to reorganize it, it was also not very well put together. I also dropped my flash cards at one point due to my coffee jitters.

The interviewers sit in the back of the room and watch you give your lessons, and then they confer and come back with the results after about fifteen minutes. Waiting was horrible. The interviewees all crowded into circles and chatted nervously. Then we got envelopes with our results, and we were dismissed.

I didn’t make it. Reading that letter, I realized I had no idea what I wanted to do with my future. I probably would have been much more depressed, except one of the other HUSA exchange students was coming to meet me that day, as he lived about an hour away. If I’d gotten the second interview, it would have been the next day. As I didn’t get it, my friend and I had time to catch up in San Francisco.

So that’s what we did. Japan Town was my favorite – it was like being in a Japanese shopping district. All of my blues faded away as we walked literally everywhere and had some happy hour saké followed by karaoke. It was like studying abroad again for those two days.

My mini-vacation was nice, but when I returned home, I had to really start thinking about getting a job again. One night someone asked me, “What do you want to do now?” I ended up whining for quite some time about how I had no idea. He threw plenty of ideas at me, but none of them stuck.

And then, another email came. It was from JET again. I couldn’t really believe it. I was being upgraded from alternate! I would be an ALT in southern Japan! All I had to do was get in the rest of my paperwork.

That’s where I stand now. I’ve mailed everything in, and I’ve heard from the people I’ll be working directly with! So, from next month, assuming all goes well, I’ll be in Japan once again! And you can believe I’ll be blogging again!


~ by megumiwasframed on July 26, 2012.

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