- Web Engineer
- Other occupations (5)
My story working in Japan, in Nulab.
Hello there! I'm Jean-Pierre and I work in the Back Office Team here at Nulab. Nulab isn't your traditional Japanese company. We tend to play a lot more and have more fun than most IT companies I think. But the differences don't end there. Angela, who works in HR, asked me recently about the differences working in Canada, where I'm from, and here in Japan. It also made me wonder if the differences are specific to Nulab, or Japanese companies in general. Let's dig a little deeper into it, shall we?
Nulab isn't the only place I've worked in Japan. Like most people who come to Japan, my first gig was teaching English. Though I loved my students, the place I chose to work didn't make for a very positive experience. I won't delve into the details, but I am thankful for the experience because it reminded me that I am an IT guy, and that is what I should be doing with my time. If you come to Japan, I'd suggest to not leave your career behind and jump right into teaching English. It can be challenging, but it is so very rewarding when you "make it". On the other hand however, never underestimate the value of networking. Because of the people I met teaching English, I met an IT company and worked as a Backend Apps Engineer there for a year and a half.
Now, I'm not here to bash anyone, or their working style. But I will say that the company I moved to didn't quite "fit" me. I didn't speak any Japanese yet, and the long hours and weekends worked didn't allow me to do what I wanted to do in my personal life (like improve my language skills). This isn't uncommon in Japan, so I don't hold it against them nor do I find it strange in hindsight. Coming from where I did in Toronto, it was shocking at first. Us Canadians value our work/life balance deeply. We get to work at 9-10 in the morning, and you can be sure we are home at 6pm for dinner. There are exceptions to this (I can remember sleeping under my desk the night before a particularly stressful release), but the general rule is different. Getting to work at 8am and doing the tranditional Japanese appology (osaki ni shitsureshimasu) for leaving early, at 8pm, was a little shell shocking. There is a cultural thing in Japan which I can only summarize as "my life for the company". However, despite everyone working like their life depended on it, I never felt like anyone was more devoted to their task than back home. In fact, I often had the feeling that people back home were more productive, even with the shorter hours. This, of course, is just my own observation.
I'll reiterate it again, never underestimate the value of networking. By having my foot in the door in the IT community here in Fukuoka, I was able to make connections with Nulab's CEO, and have a few mutual friends speak highly of me to him. This, along with more than a few omiyage from Canada got me an interview. Interviews in Japan tend to go differently than they do back home too, at least where foreigners are concerned. Most newcomers to Japan make a big mistake, telling the company they are applying to how much they love Japan and want to work there. This may be true. Yet it doesn't accomplish what many applicants think it does. Employers here care about how much you want to work for them, and what you can do for them. It is the same as back home, so leave your love for ramen and anime where it belongs, at home. Being career focused and stressing my wish to grow in the IT community in Fukuoka, after a few interviews and a trial-by-fire at one of Nulab's famous General Meetings (a week long event and party), I got the job.
Coming from my 2 previous employment experiences in Japan, working at Nulab was even more shocking, but for entirely other reasons. The abundance of holidays (more than I can use), the lack of overtime, and competitive benefits were unexpected to say the least. I remember being apprehensive when I joined the company, this was soon alleviated. Though Nulab is certainly a Japanese company, time and time again it just doesn't feel like one. This extends beyond our international offices, to a culture deep within what it means to be a "Nulaber". We have a set of core principles, Nuice Ways, which directs us not to just collaborate and work together, but actually play at work. We believe this opens the mind and relaxes the body, encouraging creativity. This means that at any given time, you may find people playing ping pong or throwing darts in our cafe. Last Friday there was a Nintendo switch tournament happening there too!
When I try to think if something like Nulab could exist back in Canada, I wouldn't say no. However, I'd still be surprised to see something so forward thinking, focused on employee freedom (another tenant of Nuice Ways) and an overall joyful place to work.
So,what is it like to work in Japan? How does it differ from working across the pond?
Well, I guess that depends on where you work!
For me, regardless of where I'm living, I'm glad that I found my way into being a Nulaber.