How to survive and (hopefully prosper) In Japan

How to survive and (hopefully prosper) In Japan

Slides for Engineer community in Japan Meetup


Carlos Donderis

May 27, 2020


  1. How to survive and (hopefully prosper) In Japan

  2. Carlos Donderis (CaDs) Engineer, Spaniard Been in Japan for 9+

    years GMO Group → Sansan → Mercari More info at About Me
  3. Hobbies: - Photography - Martial Arts - Walking and discover

    quirk places About Me
  4. Why Japan?

  5. Is a beautiful country! Why Japan?

  6. Some Statistics: • Unemployment Rate: 2.2% • Working hours: 40

    h/week (restrictions apply ) • Average salary: 3,500 $ / month • Average rent: 900 $ / month (20~30 m2) • Consumption Tax: 8% • Income Tax: ◦ Under 1.95 million yen per year: 5% ◦ 1.95-3.3 million yen per year: 10% ◦ 3.3 to 6.95 million yen per year: 20% ◦ 6.95 to 9 million yen per year: 23% • Residence Tax: around 6% of annual income Why Japan?
  7. Visa options for working in Japan as an Engineer •

    Working Visa • Highly skilled professional Visa Visa Sponsorship procedure is common for companies looking for global talent. The procedure takes around 1 to 3 months. Why Japan?
  8. How and where to Start?

  9. • Getting Ready ◦ Check the current tech trends ▪

    Pick a technology you like and find communities • Finding English speaking communities outside tokyo might be challenging ▪ Search for companies using those technologies you are good at or want to be focusing on • Linked in • Wantedly (mostly in Japanese) How and where to Start?
  10. • Getting Ready ◦ Be really good at something ▪

    Especially if you are applying from abroad, you will have to compete with local candidates. ▪ Companies have to make an extra investment in you (visa sponsorship, relocation) ▪ Your skills should make you stand out in the crowd. ▪ In my case? I became really good at testing. • Everyone loves coding • … not so much writing tests • But tests are necessary (especially with Ruby) • So that was my edge. How and where to Start?
  11. • Getting Ready ◦ Meet People ▪ Meetups are great

    opportunities for meeting people • Companies looking for hiring • Exchange information on who is doing what ▪ Casual interviews with companies • Not as stressful as real interviews • You get more information on what companies are doing • You make contacts within the companies for when you are ready How and where to Start?
  12. What went well

  13. • I apply for my first job 100% online while

    I was in Spain ◦ Applied to Cookpad and Kumapon ◦ Cookpad interview went really well, while Kumapon one was a disaster. ◦ …. But I was rejected in Cookpad and got hired at Kumapon ▪ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ◦ I came to Japan 3 -4 months latter ▪ Arrived to Tokyo December 25th 2010 What went well
  14. What went well Kumapon - Acquired by GMO Group -

    4 Million users - Ruby on Rails + lots of caching miracles - 99% Japanese company - Some foreigners… - ...that left shortly after I joined - No English speakers and I could barely speak Japanese - Attended Japanese lessons twice per week by myself - Was REALLY hard at the beginning but also really fun.
  15. What went well TrustLogin (Former SkuID) - Global Sign service

    (GMO Group) - Ruby on Rails (sort of) - 70% Japanese company - Engineering mostly foreigners - All engineering work was in English! - Very challenging service from the very beginning. - Lots of technical / organizational challenges. - Rewrote the service from scratch in 3 months. - This was really fun. - Also did LOT of mentoring and in general helped people to grow and have a good time.
  16. Sansan: - Worked on Eight - 10+ million users -

    Complex backend in Ruby, Python... - 99% Japanese company - Only 2 foreigners - Only 2 Englishs Speakers - I was working fully in Japanese - Doing both management and development. - Rewrote the activity feed. - Very challenging and interesting. - Learned a lot. Also it was fun. - Lots of opportunities (speaker at meetups, attending Ruby Kaigi, etc ) What went well
  17. Mercari: - Working at Mercari JP - Zillions of users

    - Complex backend using both Go and PHP - Doing full time management - Managing several multicultural engineering teams - 60% Japanese - I can use English at work! - … sort of - Lots of challenges but also lots of opportunities What went well
  18. What went wrong

  19. Japanese Language: - Working and studying Japanese was really hard

    and never fully managed to become fluent. - I can speak but barely read - Working in a 100% Japanese environment was always a huge handicap for me. - At the same time, working in a Japanese environment helped me to become fluent at talking (sort of) in about 1 year. What went wrong
  20. Working Culture: - Working in a 100% japanese company is

    hard. - Lots of unwritten rules that makes no sense for westerners. - … and leads to conflicts. - You either adapt or move on. - I would say is impossible to change this culture for medium/big companies - Maybe some hope for small startups? - Glass ceiling is real What went wrong
  21. Tokyo can be overwhelming: - Tokyo can be the most

    exciting city in the world, but also can be ruthless. - Being alone in this city can be really hard. - Lots of people around but difficult to make long lasting friends. - Most of the expats here spend 1-3 years - NEVER get in trouble with Japanese police. What went wrong
  22. Advices for newcomers

  23. Avoid traditional companies: - Working in a full traditional Japanese

    environment can be really challenging from the cultural point of view - Kohai / Sempai culture can be puzzling. - Staying until your boss leaves - Japanese language (written and read) is going to be vital - Good for deep immersion in the Japanese culture - ...but I would say not so good for your sanity. Advices for newcomers
  24. Create your network: - Every interaction you do with people

    is an opportunity to expand your network. - Miles, the guy who interviewed me at cookpad ended up being one of my pals here in Tokyo - People you meet at events and meetups can become an important part of your life here. - Making an effort to step outside your comfort zone can help. Advices for newcomers
  25. Help people out: - If you are in a position

    of helping people do so. - Chances are that you will meet people looking for a job, or trying to come to tokyo. Be nice and help people if you can. - Not because they might be able to help you back, just because is the right thing to do. - If your company is hiring, create recruiting events, hackathons... - Share the info of who is hiring with people looking for a job. Advices for newcomers
  26. Have fun: - Don’t take things too seriously. - Tokyo

    is great, but so are many places around the world. - Not making it here doesn’t mean you can’t make it great somewhere else. - Enjoy the good things of Tokyo and Japan while are exciting. - Keep a curious mind. - Find a way to always have fun in what you do. Although this might be hard to do sometimes. Advices for newcomers
  27. Thanks! Any Questions?