Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Working in Japan

Danny Choo at dannychoo.com has an interesting post about his experience in job hunting in Japan and I just wanted to add some points of my own experience.

The best way to get a job here is to come to Japan as a student. A tourist visa works but they are at most for a couple of months which is not enough time to get a full view of Japan and search for a good job.

As a student you get minimum one or two years student visa. This is time enough to learn the language and search without rushing the best options for job. Moreover if you obtain a Masters or PhD degree you are almost guaranteed a job offer after graduation because every year companies in Japan go to universities in search for new meat from within the graduates.

The only problem of this method is how to pay the school fee and living expenses in Japan for so long?. Well what all the people I know do is apply for the Monbukagakusho scholarship. This is especially good if you live far away from Japan (America, Europe, Africa, etc.). Asian people (China, Korea, Vietnam, etc.) come to Japan as japanese language students. They first pay all expenses from their own pockets and once in Japan they apply for local scholarships within Japan.

The Monbukagakusho scholarship (see here) is one of the best scholarships to come to Japan. It will cover your full school expenses, your roundtrip plane ticket and give you 175.000 Yen monthy for living expenses. This scholarship at first is for two years research program but if you apply and enter the Masters and PhD programs at your university then the scholarship can be extended up to seven years. This means you can live in Japan up to seven years as an student (as long as you comply with your university requirements like attaining credits, writing papers, thesis, etc.). During this long time you get to know Japan very well, learn the language (at least conversation skills) and look for a part time job. I came as a Monbusho student in 2002 and now I can talk the language (but not read it), got a Master degree, I am now running for a PhD and have a nice part time job as programmer. I also worked as intern in several companies as part of universtity projects.

There is also a JAIST scholarship (see here) but I don't have much details except that the scholarship is for three years max and after the three years you are forced to return to your own country and work for two years there. At least this is the situation of all my Bangladesh friends that have the scholarship.

If you are interested in getting the Monbusho scholarship the best source of information is the Japanese Embassy in your own country. Simply go there and ask about the Monbusho.

About the job well once you are in Japan it would not take much effort to get a job. Especially in the IT/ICT camps. I started scanning books at an IT company for 900 Yen/Hour and now I am a part time programmer for 1500 Yen/Hour. This and the scholarship is enough for living in Japan with my family and even take nice vacation trips around Asia (Beijin, Seoul, Okinawa, Kyoto, Osaka, etc.).

That's it... remember the best option is to come as a student, once here you can see your options for job.

About what university?? well any university will do but the famous ones are Tokyo, Meiji, Keio and Waseda. All these universities are high quality and studing hard is imperative to keep your scholarship. Remember that the scholarship is not for free! you must earn credits, write papers, participate on international conferences and if you are a Masters or PhD student you must pass the screening process and write your thesis. If you don't fulfill the University requirements your scholarship won't be extended and you will have to return to your country.

If you like to study extremly hard then go to Tokyo University but you will get less time for jobs, even part time jobs. Waseda is more relaxed on the Masters but the PhD is very, VERY difficult (experience). The other two are more or less the same as Waseda but the PhD is not as difficult as Waseda.

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