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Any starting tips for a 28 year old woman interested in working in Japan?

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  • Any starting tips for a 28 year old woman interested in working in Japan?

    I'm staring to research working in Japan, and am looking for any pointers on steering me in the right direction. Browsing the net, I feel a bit daunted on where to begin and what sort of candidate I make for the jobs out there. I also worry about my age -- I know 28 isn't OLD but it isn't young either.

    I'm a U.S. citizen. I have a BS from 09. I've been teaching myself Japanese for a little over a year, and vacationed there last Fall. My previous employment was retail, which I left in the spring (no bad feelings I was just ready to move on to something better), so right now I'm unemployed/on an extended vacation.

    I've gotten the impression that the JET program is a pretty cushy way to go, but I'm not sure if it's worth the wait/risk to apply, since I wouldn't be getting the job until next Fall -- IF I was even accepted. Any pointers on what the "better" jobs are out there (and yes I realize I'm pretty much going to be stuck as an English teacher)? Advice for someone my age/gender? What N level should I aim to be at (I have no idea what I currently am)? Best ways/sites to look for jobs?

    Thanks so much in advance.

  • #2
    Originally posted by an_ne View Post
    and yes I realize I'm pretty much going to be stuck as an English teacher.
    If that's your attitude already you'll probably suck at it and hate it here.
    Nobody is looking for teachers who are interested in a cushy job.
    If you come here expecting to spend a few hours a day teaching the grateful natives English, get paid, then hit the karaoke bars of Tokyo you are ____ out of luck.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by twelvedown View Post
      If that's your attitude already you'll probably suck at it and hate it here.
      Nobody is looking for teachers who are interested in a cushy job.
      If you come here expecting to spend a few hours a day teaching the grateful natives English, get paid, then hit the karaoke bars of Tokyo you are ____ out of luck.
      Woah, I think I totally gave off the wrong impression. I'm FINE with teaching English, I was just trying to acknowledge that I knew that was the only job open to me. And by "cushy" I didn't mean to suggest an actual cushy job, just that I'd gotten the sense that, as far as the choices went, JET had sounded really good. That's on me for poor word choices. I suppose I was trying to exaggerate a bit and it fell flat.

      I know it's hard work and long workdays and I'm not looking for a place to party.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by an_ne View Post
        Woah, I think I totally gave off the wrong impression. I'm FINE with teaching English, I was just trying to acknowledge that I knew that was the only job open to me. And by "cushy" I didn't mean to suggest an actual cushy job, just that I'd gotten the sense that, as far as the choices went, JET had sounded really good. That's on me for poor word choices. I suppose I was trying to exaggerate a bit and it fell flat.

        I know it's hard work and long workdays and I'm not looking for a place to party.
        O.K then. You could look at getting a language school job with someone like E.C.C or other big chains that hire abroad. I am all for getting a job lined up for your first year BEFORE you come.

        The other main option open to you is hostessing. You're pushing it a bit age-wise but if you're a hottie you could think about that.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by twelvedown View Post
          O.K then. You could look at getting a language school job with someone like E.C.C or other big chains that hire abroad. I am all for getting a job lined up for your first year BEFORE you come.

          The other main option open to you is hostessing. You're pushing it a bit age-wise but if you're a hottie you could think about that.
          Thanks! I'll check out places like E.C.C.

          Hostessing is probably out for me, but I'll certainly make note of it.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by an_ne View Post
            I know it's hard work and long workdays and I'm not looking for a place to party.
            What ARE you looking for exactly? I mean why do you want to come to Japan?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by an_ne View Post
              Thanks! I'll check out places like E.C.C.

              Hostessing is probably out for me, but I'll certainly make note of it.
              No one in their right mind wants to do hostessing, there is a cushy teaching gig if a person is willing to spend the time, effort and cash to get the right qualifications - University teaching!

              As ume asked, the more information you us, the better advice we can give!
              Last edited by TheHotCondom; 2013-07-01, 10:33 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ume View Post
                What ARE you looking for exactly? I mean why do you want to come to Japan?
                I like meeting new people and experiencing different places. When I visited Japan I really liked the people and the culture. There's something about it that resonated with me. I think that while American retail thickened my skin, it damaged my soul. I could honestly see myself liking it there better than America (not that I presume to know that for certain based off of a vacation). It's that feeling more than any particular hobby -- although I do like history, traveling, and the odd manga (comics were a gateway drug for me, I swear!).

                Also, I think my age might give the wrong impression of where I'm at in my life. After college, I was stuck in a rut with a job I didn't really like for 4 years -- it was like a pause button on my life--and even though I'm 28 I feel like I'm 24. So I'm fine with the possibility that I get contracted for a year in Japan, and afterwards decide to return to the U.S. I'd LOVE to get more out of it -- a career, a stable life, friends, boyfriend, etc., but if I don't I can't imagine I'd regret it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by an_ne View Post
                  I like meeting new people and experiencing different places. When I visited Japan I really liked the people and the culture. There's something about it that resonated with me. I think that while American retail thickened my skin, it damaged my soul. I could honestly see myself liking it there better than America (not that I presume to know that for certain based off of a vacation). It's that feeling more than any particular hobby -- although I do like history, traveling, and the odd manga (comics were a gateway drug for me, I swear!).

                  Also, I think my age might give the wrong impression of where I'm at in my life. After college, I was stuck in a rut with a job I didn't really like for 4 years -- it was like a pause button on my life--and even though I'm 28 I feel like I'm 24. So I'm fine with the possibility that I get contracted for a year in Japan, and afterwards decide to return to the U.S. I'd LOVE to get more out of it -- a career, a stable life, friends, boyfriend, etc., but if I don't I can't imagine I'd regret it.
                  Its a nice answer... but Im going to be kind of blunt.

                  If you don't already speak Japanese to a fairly intermediate-high level, the people you are going to meet (especially on the JET programme, which is cushy in comparison to other English teaching jobs, BTW) are going to be Americans. And the majority of them are fairly boring Americans wearing dodgy trainers and beige pants. No offense to any former JETs who do not fit this description - its just I've yet to meet a "normal" JET in my x years of being here.

                  Go and stalk the JET forums, and you will see that JET gets you sent to the back of beyond on your first year, with very few exceptions. The more experienced JETS then get sent to the popular places (IE - the big cities) in their 2nd/3rd year. I personally like the countryside, HOWEVER being plonked down in the middle of the country with little more than basic Japanese and a "charisma boy" coworker whose aim is to meet and bed as many Japanese chicks as he can, is going to be a very lonely existence. IMO.

                  Your hobbies sound great, but on a day to day basis, being in the country surrounded by old people who you can't talk to, sounds kind of lonely no? If your Japanese is smokin', and you love the elderly, then go right ahead. (I actually DO love old people, by the way... so Im not judging at all - just want to put it in perspective)

                  Anyways, my point is... if you do JET, a year is not really enough. You will need a year in the country, then most people will want to do a year in the city too. Which is MUCH more fun, and you probably will meet a bunch of cool people. And get settled, and want to stay another year. Its normal. Japanese cities are pretty fun. And you could do your hobbies - ie travelling - much easier with a base from an inner city than being in the middle of rural Shimane or something..

                  You very well like it more than America (I certainly do prefer it a billion times more than America, but Im British) but ... it depends where you are. I think that your chances of liking it more than America are higher if you are in a city than the countryside. But maybe Im wrong?

                  In conclusion - go for JET if you want, but you might want to look at other options if you are thinking about being here for a year ONLY. ECC is fairly good. Berlitz isn't horrible. Also just want to mention, as a female you are probably going to be shoved in a room full of kids (because being female it means you automatically like kids.) This can open up other options after your first year too (IF you do indeed, like children) like International kindergartens etc, which actually pay better and give better benefits than Eikaiwas.

                  One consideration - you might not regret it from a personal view, but in years to come you almost definitely will from a career standpoint. A few years in retail, and then you up and leave and become an English teacher in Japan for a few years - then ... what? From an employers point of view, its a lot of jumping around, and its highly unlikely your Japanese will get to a level high enough in a few years, that you can later use it in a "career." Doing ELT in Japan/China/ Korea etc is seen as a kind of gap year/thing you do after uni, and as you said, your no spring chicken. I would think very seriously about your job now, and what you plan to do after you get back from Japan too.

                  I imagine though, that very few of us who are here permanently (myself included) came here thinking "Im going to live in Japan forever" - Mainly we came, and other things like marriage and kids followed. So who knows, you might eventually join the ranks of us bitter and grumpy PRs who spend too much time on forums in the future

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Obviously, most foreigners are hired due to skills that are not available locally. So ask yourself what skills and experience you have that would make an employer accept you. As you mention, English teaching or the Jet program is one think. Foreign retailers sometimes hire foreigners to maintain an international 'air' at their brand shops. But only if you Japanese is ok and you're not overweight :

                    newsonjapan.com/html/newsdesk/article/102385.php

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by an_ne View Post
                      I like meeting new people and experiencing different places. When I visited Japan I really liked the people and the culture. There's something about it that resonated with me. I think that while American retail thickened my skin, it damaged my soul. I could honestly see myself liking it there better than America (not that I presume to know that for certain based off of a vacation). It's that feeling more than any particular hobby -- although I do like history, traveling, and the odd manga (comics were a gateway drug for me, I swear!).

                      Also, I think my age might give the wrong impression of where I'm at in my life. After college, I was stuck in a rut with a job I didn't really like for 4 years -- it was like a pause button on my life--and even though I'm 28 I feel like I'm 24. So I'm fine with the possibility that I get contracted for a year in Japan, and afterwards decide to return to the U.S. I'd LOVE to get more out of it -- a career, a stable life, friends, boyfriend, etc., but if I don't I can't imagine I'd regret it.
                      What the Twelve of Down suggested seems to be the best fit. The big places like ECC, Aeon, Interac do hire from overseas and will help you in getting settled (which is a real pain if on your own). If you like the work (and life) you can continue, or look for something better. If it's not for you, then you can leave and put it down as a learning experience. Check the comments about working at some of the aforementioned places. JET is good, but there may not be clearly defined lines between your time and work time.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ttokyo View Post
                        Obviously, most foreigners are hired due to skills that are not available locally. So ask yourself what skills and experience you have that would make an employer accept you. As you mention, English teaching or the Jet program is one think. Foreign retailers sometimes hire foreigners to maintain an international 'air' at their brand shops. But only if you Japanese is ok and you're not overweight :

                        newsonjapan.com/html/newsdesk/article/102385.php
                        The woman in that article is Japanese no? I thought she was married to a foreigner?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          You are too impatient. Shoot for the highest N level Japanese, which will take 2-3 years. Yes! Be freaking patient.

                          What is your degree in?
                          What work experience do you have?
                          What's the rush to get here, where you have no language or (probably) work skills?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ume View Post
                            In conclusion - go for JET if you want, but you might want to look at other options if you are thinking about being here for a year ONLY. ECC is fairly good. Berlitz isn't horrible. Also just want to mention, as a female you are probably going to be shoved in a room full of kids (because being female it means you automatically like kids.) This can open up other options after your first year too (IF you do indeed, like children) like International kindergartens etc, which actually pay better and give better benefits than Eikaiwas.

                            One consideration - you might not regret it from a personal view, but in years to come you almost definitely will from a career standpoint. A few years in retail, and then you up and leave and become an English teacher in Japan for a few years - then ... what? From an employers point of view, its a lot of jumping around, and its highly unlikely your Japanese will get to a level high enough in a few years, that you can later use it in a "career." Doing ELT in Japan/China/ Korea etc is seen as a kind of gap year/thing you do after uni, and as you said, your no spring chicken. I would think very seriously about your job now, and what you plan to do after you get back from Japan too.
                            I appreciate the bluntness, and the suggestions. And it's really helpful to have some specific company names. Thank you!

                            I also appreciate your opinion about how this could affect me down the line. I've been worried about that too. Especially because my degree is in Biochemistry and half of the stuff I learned 4 or 5 years ago is probably outdated already! That's partly why I'm on here -- I need to know if this is something that's going to be for me.

                            Originally posted by ttokyo View Post
                            Obviously, most foreigners are hired due to skills that are not available locally. So ask yourself what skills and experience you have that would make an employer accept you. As you mention, English teaching or the Jet program is one think. Foreign retailers sometimes hire foreigners to maintain an international 'air' at their brand shops. But only if you Japanese is ok and you're not overweight :

                            newsonjapan.com/html/newsdesk/article/102385.php
                            haha, I'll keep it in mind. (But in all honesty I'm a terrible salesperson!).

                            Originally posted by Mr. Ludd View Post
                            What the Twelve of Down suggested seems to be the best fit. The big places like ECC, Aeon, Interac do hire from overseas and will help you in getting settled (which is a real pain if on your own). If you like the work (and life) you can continue, or look for something better. If it's not for you, then you can leave and put it down as a learning experience. Check the comments about working at some of the aforementioned places. JET is good, but there may not be clearly defined lines between your time and work time.
                            I don't think I'd be comfortable coming over without a job lined up, so these suggestions are very helpful. This is definitely what the starting points I'm looking for: legit places that seem like a good fit.

                            EDIT:

                            Originally posted by Glenski View Post
                            You are too impatient. Shoot for the highest N level Japanese, which will take 2-3 years. Yes! Be freaking patient.

                            What is your degree in?
                            What work experience do you have?
                            What's the rush to get here, where you have no language or (probably) work skills?
                            BS in Biochemistry (hated it)
                            I worked about 4 years in retail pharmacy -- as a tech not a pharmacist.

                            Part of why I'm looking to come sooner rather than later (aside from being 28 -- biological clock is ticking and all), is that I'm between jobs (*cough* unemployed) and am looking for something new anyway (although I've had working/living in Japan on my mind for about a year now).
                            Last edited by an_ne; 2013-07-01, 01:38 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by an_ne View Post
                              I also appreciate your opinion about how this could affect me down the line. I've been worried about that too. Especially because my degree is in Biochemistry and half of the stuff I learned 4 or 5 years ago is probably outdated already! That's partly why I'm on here -- I need to know if this is something that's going to be for me.


                              I don't think I'd be comfortable coming over without a job lined up, so these suggestions are very helpful. This is definitely what the starting points I'm looking for: legit places that seem like a good fit.

                              EDIT:


                              BS in Biochemistry (hated it)
                              I worked about 4 years in retail pharmacy -- as a tech not a pharmacist.

                              Part of why I'm looking to come sooner rather than later (aside from being 28 -- biological clock is ticking and all), is that I'm between jobs (*cough* unemployed) and am looking for something new anyway (although I've had working/living in Japan on my mind for about a year now).
                              Just out of curiosity, what is wrong with becoming a pharmacist? Surely you've thought about that and rejected it. But from afar it seems like a probably fairly well paying job, requires another degree but given how horrible the jobs situation might be for the rest of your working life, I would be thinking long and hard if I were you. Just to play devils advocate let's say 3 years of teaching English here while studying Japanese fairly seriously will get you N2 level Japanese, perhaps even N1 but that might take another year. But well let's say you get to N2 and good enough to converse pretty well, just enough to work for a Japanese company. If you really love it and hustle/network etc you might be in a position to get a decent career of some sort started, but without special skills it's not gonna be anything great *and* opportunities for women in Japanese companies really, really suck in general. You'd almost certainly need to start your own company or work for a foreign company to get a career type job.

                              Or if you go back to the states at that point, the 3 years spent in Japan is not gonna impress anybody, not give you a leg up on anything in the US, tho who knows, pretty good Japanese might get your foot in the door somewhere you wouldn't otherwise get if you know how to hustle and 'sell yourself'.

                              One other thing, especially at your age, not old but not in low 20's, I'm a guy so I'm not speaking from direct experience here, but from what I've seen, most Japanese guys will not be partner material for you. I think your chances of find a prince charming or even his squire are much better where you are. Anything could happen, but it's not unlikely that the years you spend here will be taken out from your prime years for finding the right guy. This might be a very important factor for you to think about.

                              Anyway, I'd really like to know just a bit more about pharmacist careers -- too late for me, I had a long IT career but I curious as that is something besides IT I might have found reasonable as a career -- at least good enough to reach maybe $60-70k a year in a senior position? Just wondering. GL! You may be destined to come to Japan. Many times important turning points are often a result of luck rather than conscious decision.

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