What sparked my interest in Japan?
My interest in Japan was sparked through entertainment such as music, anime, culture, and games when I was in elementary school. I have always enjoyed them, especially Japanese games. Later, I became interested in working in Japan after watching a YouTube video showcasing life in Japan. The lifestyle in Japan really attracted me, as everything seemed convenient, and people walked everywhere with purpose. The transportation system in Japan is also impressive, unlike in Indonesia where traffic jams are a big issue. When I went to Tokyo, I was surprised to see that even though it is a metropolitan city, there were very few cars on the road, and most people used trains or bikes to get around. This convenience and accommodativeness of the transportation system attracted me a lot.
Journey to studying Japanese
To work in Japan, I knew I had to study Japanese and acquire Japanese literacy and speaking ability. I became curious to study Japanese when I was in high school so that I could understand Japanese entertainment on a deeper level. I used an app to learn basic Japanese letters like hiragana and katakana, and later leveled up to some basic kanji. However, I found kanji particularly challenging, so I stopped learning Japanese for a while.
When I entered university, I found out about a seminar hosted by ASIA to JAPAN staff for those interested in working in Japan. They introduced FAST OFFER International and some Japanese classes. I registered with FAST OFFER International and took a Japanese class taught by an Indonesian teacher for six months. After finishing the class, I took a worldwide class, which was a combination of different countries with a teacher from the USA. Initially, the class was easy for me because I had learned basic Japanese letters before. But when I met kanji again, it became harder for me and sometimes demotivating. Despite the difficulties, I did not lose my motivation to study Japanese because I genuinely wanted to work in Japan. I always looked to the future and believed that my language skills would benefit me. Such strong beliefs always motivated me and built up my courage to take interviews.
Internship experiences that cleared my future path
Before coming to Japan, I also actively searched for jobs in Indonesia and took internships that might lead to a job. I worked as a software engineer and web developer at two companies when I was in my second and third years at university. Through these internships, I discovered what kind of job field I was interested in. While I had been interested in deep learning or machine learning, I had not had the chance to work in that field during the internships. This made me realize that I wanted to try a different path, hopefully in Japan.
Face-to-face interview experiences
I prepared for job hunting in Japan for about 1.5 years with help from ASIA to JAPAN staff. They provided me with advice, even just before the interview process. I was nervous during the face-to-face interviews, which was unusual for me because I usually do not get nervous in interviews conducted in my native languages, Indonesian or English. However, this time, I had to take the interviews in Japanese, which I was not yet proficient in. I had to review possible questions, prepare answers, remember all the staff, and improvise when I heard new information from the interviewer. This made me most nervous because I feared saying the wrong things and not being able to convey my opinions clearly in Japanese.
Despite my nerves, I succeeded in conveying my ideas in the simplest way possible. When they asked me more about my research projects using technical terms, I did not know how to convey the technical terms in my field in Japanese, so I had to use simple English words. Nevertheless, I tried to mostly use Japanese in the interview, and I can say I did my best!
Message to the viewers
I understand how difficult it can be to learn Japanese, as I am also struggling with it. However, when facing challenges, it is important to think about the potential benefits that come with the language, even if it is not for obtaining a job in Japan. Learning a language is always a valuable experience and opens new perspectives. So, do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. I encourage you to keep pursuing your dream and never give up.
Lastly, I want to express my sincere gratitude to ASIA to JAPAN. While my Japanese skills may not have been sufficient for the interview process, I still took the opportunity to give it my best shot and pursue the job I was most interested in. I am grateful for this chance and thank you from the bottom of my heart.