Jobs successfully found
The byline at the bottom of each of these columns promises that Terrie will personally answer every email received. Certainly this creates a steady flow of mail to the family letterbox, and about 1-2 hours work answering the 3-5 enquiries a day. However, it has its rewards as well, especially when people write in later, sharing that they were able to find a worthwhile job after following some of the advice they received.
Today I'd like to share two such letters, which amply illustrate that you shouldn't give up when on a job search. If you have a goal to succeed in Japan, this is a big enough economy that with the right skills, you can make it. Interestingly, both individuals are foreigners and both had 2-kyuu level Japanese before landing their first job in Japan.
The first letter was from an individual I will call MD, who was until the middle of last year was a struggling language student based in deepest snowiest part of northern Japan. It wasn't easy, and for most of the previous two years had taught English to support his language learning habit. Indeed, MD picked up more than a bit of Japanese-style determination, when, after a full day studying at the Japanese language school, he would pack up his books then head out to the English school for a part-time position from 17:00 to 21:00.
Shades of Oshin! MD existed on just JPY 200,000 a month, and was able to make it through psychologically to continually reminding himself that he would have much better job prospects after gaining sufficient (upper 2-kyuu level spoken and listening) language skills.
I first heard from MD in the first quarter of 2005. He'd been looking unsuccessfully for a job for about 6 weeks and was starting to feel despondent. He really wanted a writing or editing job and just didn't seem to be able to find anything.
My advice to him was to remain flexible and to in fact consider moving to another part of Japan, to be closer to the sources of work. MD took my advice literally and applied for a number of editing positions around the country. To his surprise, one of the companies he contacted was extremely interested in MD's soup-to-nuts experience in publishing a small magazine (experience from his college years in England) and wound up offering him a job. He is now not only happily employed as an in-house documentation expert for a major foreign manufacturer in Hyogo, but he is also a manager as well and is now looking for two more dedicated bilinguals to assist with a burgeoning number of projects. The good news for us is that he plans to use DaiJob for the search.
In the second case, DO had just graduated in engineering and international studies from a university in Australia, and had 2-kyuu level Japanese but not much else. It's always hard to know what to say to a recent graduate with little practical work experience.
My advice to DO was to either get to Japan and take a part-time job while networking and looking for personal relationships to get himself an internship, or to stay in Australia and get some technical experience there first. He decided to get the experience and was looking for a job when he learned that SAP Japan was in Australia recruiting bilinguals. Perhaps even luckier still, SAP wasn't after highly experienced software people but instead was more interested in flexible bilinguals who would be willing to take intensive training in Tokyo.
Needless to say, DO jumped at the chance and passed the psych and aptitude tests with flying colors. Now, 9 months later, he is happily ensconced in a support group for a major SAP customer in downtown Tokyo. Luck of the gods, yes, but it goes to show that being bilingual and having a modicum of initiative can go a long way in creating the fulcrum for fate to rotate on.