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Work in Japanese public schools with Interac


Interact is a great way to experience working in a public school in Japan as an assistant English teacher. It's also a great alternative if you fail to get into the popular JET program. I've done some research about this company and talked to many teachers, so read more to learn the pros and cons of working for Interac.




Location: All over Japan.

Salary: 230,000-250,000 Yen a month. No completion bonus.
Great things about Interac

If you have very little experience the advantage of being a middle school ALT is that you’re the assistant, not the teacher, so it’s a great way to ease yourself into teaching. Depending on the school you may have to plan all the lessons and co-ordinate with the homeroom teachers. I have a friend who works at a high school and has to plan and teach all the lessons himself.

You will generally have a lighter work schedule compared to a cram school, and most teachers I know have adequate time within working hours to plan and prepare for classes. Some ALTs have too much free time, and I often hear complaints from ALTs who wish they had more classes.

Most schools will also encourage you to interact a lot with the students, so it’s a great way to talk to young Japanese people and improve your Japanese skills.
Interac has some of the longest holidays that you will find at any job in Japan. Most Japanese school teachers work all year round, but as an ALT you will have the same holidays as the students. One month in the summer, up to two weeks at Christmas, and sometimes about two weeks before the school year starts up again in April. All schools operate on different calendars, so you may have to work Christmas day, but the long holidays give you a great opportunity to travel around Japan and Asia.
They have locations all over Japan, so it’s great if you decide to move and live somewhere else, but they will probably prefer you to remain in the same school or town once you finish your contract.


Cons

Interac doesn’t pay for your flight to Japan, or any start up costs. They also won’t pay your salary until the second month that you’re been working, so you’ll probably need to save up a bit of money before you come to Japan. You could probably scrape by with about $1000 dollars (After airplane tickets) if you’re frugal, but you’re probably going to need about $3000 dollars to survive worry free.

They have recently started offering ten month contracts which is great if you only intend to work for ten months, but if you’re here for a year or more that’s two months where you’re not getting any money.

They also greatly reduce your pay over summer and winter vacation. 50% in the summer and 75% in the winter. Interact contracts vary from about 230,000 to 250,000 yen a month, so if you’re on a 230,000 salary, you only get 115,000 yen during summer vacation. Most apartments in Japan cost about 40,000 to 80,000 yen a month for a decent place, so after rent and utilities that doesn't give you much money to live off. They will often suggest that you get private students, but if you’re new to Japan (or live in the middle of nowhere) this can be quite difficult.

The first year that you live in Japan your tax will be relatively low, but will rise in the second year and you will have to pay health insurance, residence tax, and pension based off your income from the previous year. A lot of my friends suddenly found themselves a lot poorer after their first year of working

You can avoid the tax increase by moving to a different town or city, where it will become low again for the first year.

Because you will be working in public schools they prefer you not to have obvious tattoos that can’t be easily covered. They also have drug tests, so some of you may have to reconsider your lifestyle choices.

How to Apply

If you are interested in working for Interac you need to first apply through their website. http://www.interacnetwork.com/recruit/japan.html

They have a small number of positions all year around, but they usually recruit according to the Japanese school year, so most jobs will start in either April, May or August.
You can also search for jobs through a popular website like Gaijinpot.  

The interview process from within Japan

I myself once interviewed for Interac from within Japan. It was the longest interview process that I’d ever been through to get a job.

First I applied to a job advertisement on Gaijinpot and sent them my resume and cover letter. I was then fortunate enough to receive a phone interview. They asked me a few standard interview questions, such as a self introduction, why I wanted to be an ALT, and what I thought was important about being a good ALT.

I passed and was then scheduled for a Skype interview with the office in Tokyo, but before that I had to complete a series of different tasks.

I had to record a video of myself giving a self introduction in English or Japanese (I advise you try and use some Japanese), then read a paragraph off a piece of paper to show that I could speak proper English. I then had to teach a short mock demo lesson using one of the themes that they provided.
I found this completely baffling and confusing at first, until I realized that Interac interviews hundreds of people every year, who also did the exact same task and uploaded their videos onto YouTube. You can view some of them here.






My Skype interview went well and I was offered a position, but it a few hours away so I requested somewhere closer. They didn't have any positions yet so they forwarded my number onto the office in my city. The staff called me a week later but they had no positions. They contacted me again with a position a week later but it was a ten month contract, and I estimated that I couldn't support myself for a year on the salary, so I had to turn it down.

Overall I found the interview process very long and tiring, but the staff were pleasant and always returned my calls and emails.

Applying from overseas

If you plan on applying to Interac from overseas you may have a phone interview, and then be requested to go to one of their recruiting centres. You will most likely have an interview, and then do the same tasks again in one take, so it's a great idea to practice as much as possible. Here are some videos of people talking about their interview experience here.




Who I would recommend this company to

I would recommend Interac for people who want to work in public schools, but also have other financial means of support. I think it’s also great for people who want to experience living in Japan for a short amount of time, or utilize the long vacations to travel around.

You can check out Interac’s website here


Blogs by people who have worked for Interac

The Japan Guy

Japan, Japan, Japan

Gwynnie Goes To Japan

YouTube Videos about working for Interac

If you have worked for Interac and created a blog or video, please email me the link at cathrynarden@gmail.com and I can add it to the list.









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