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Just married and moved to Tokyo. Looking for work. Any advice?

Saiga

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I married my long-time Japanese girlfriend in February and moved to Tokyo in December 2020 from the US. I’ve been studying Japanese for several years, but need more immersive practice before I am conversational.

Besides teaching English, I’m looking for ideas, advice and resources regarding finding a job here. I have a graduate degree, but I’m willing to do just about any type of work. I am also trained as a machinist. Anyone have experience to share or strategies for success?
 

Majestic

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Eikaiwa, to bring in income while you make plans, sort out the landscape, and learn more Japanese. If you are lucky, you might find something a bit more interesting, but if you can't, its more important to get employed, get into the workforce, get some income coming in, and be productive rather than sitting around at home.

Get your name into some headhunters, or headhunting agencies. There are a number of bilingual agencies. You won't be a super-attractive candidate for them, as most make commissions based on the salary of the people they place. Therefore, they tend to focus on executives (lets say people earning more than $100,000 per year). But if you have a marketable skill/degree, you could be interesting to them.

Have your wife help you figure out how to navigate some of the online employment search sites. Daijob is one that comes to mind (just because they advertised very heavily a few years ago). I don't know if they are the biggest or best, but your wife might know better than me. These sites are 99.5% targetted towards the native Japanese employee pool, but that remaining 0.5% of companies just might have something interesting.

Get serious about learning Japanese. Start working towards earning one of the certification levels of Japanese (JLPT 4 or 5, I think those are the lowest levels). These levels are so easy to acheive, no employer really cares about them, but they at least get you on the road to becoming a bit more bilingual.

You are just out of the starting gate, so I do encourage you to remember it is a marathon. You will not get a high-paying, satisfying, ego-fulfilling career right away. And this is a super-tough lesson for you to learn. But you need experience, you need income, you need some sort of structure so that you can get on the right path, and you need to get serious about the "long-game". You also need to demonstrate to your new family that you are willing to put in hard work so that you can build a stable home for your wife. You need to understand that you may not do something very interesting for the next 3 years, but these three years will allow you to springboard into something more interesting. You also need to understand that doing something uninteresting, boring, low-paying, and potentially humbling, can be a mental drain, which also can put stress on a young family.

You didn't say what your graduate degree was in. This could be valuable to a headhunter.
 

Saiga

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Thank you for your thoughtful reply. There’s a lot of good information to unpack.

My degree is in Public Administration with a focus on nonprofit management. But I also have a lot of experience as a freelance copywriter, so I’m hoping to make some contacts in that arena—I think it may be the most promising path here. Thank you again.
 

Majestic

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OK, look also to proofreading, rewriting, editing of English texts, scripts, manuals, websites, etc...which could lead to connections which might enable you to explore freelance copywriting (and eventually go into business for yourself).
 

Buntaro

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I’ve been studying Japanese for several years, but need more immersive practice before I am conversational.

Hi Saiga and welcome to the forum.

Could you do freelance copywriting for American companies via the Internet? This would remove the 'limitation' of working while living in Japan.

You said you have been studying Japanese for several years. Have you mastered the art of reading and writing hiragana and katakana? This must be done before you can make any significant progress. Feel free to ask for ideas on how to master hiragana and katakana.

Also, there are a LOT of people in Japan who would love to do a language exchange with you for free (20 minutes working on your Japanese, 20 minutes of them working on their English.) There are several people here on this forum who have lots of ideas on how to do a language exchange, so please do not hesitate to ask for suggestions.
 

Saiga

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I do have some American clients, but the pandemic has put much of my work on hold. I can read hiragana, katakana and about 500 - 600 kanji (maybe more) so far. 毎日二時間勉強します。
 

Buntaro

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I would add that, if you want to improve your conversational ability, you cannot do it by yourself, you must do it with a partner.
 

timaki

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Lothor

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I do proofreading and copy-editing in Japan and had never heard of this group. Thanks so much for the information!
 

Saiga

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