The Long Shot

This post is about my personal experience of how I came to live in Japan. After graduating a four-year university in San Francisco, I took a long shot. I bought a ticket and went to the Boston Career Forums. The rest is history.

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How to find a job in Japan. The long shot.

This post is about my personal experience of how I came to live in Japan. After graduating a four-year university in San Francisco, I took a long shot. I bought a ticket and went to the Boston Career Forums. The rest is history.

What is BCF

Boston Career Forums (BFC) is the world’s largest Japanese-English Bilingual Job fair. It is an annual event that brings 200 plus big name companies under one roof. All for the single purpose of finding new employees.
The catch is, while BCF is in America, it was not intended for Americans. The career event is targeting Japanese foreign exchange students that are still abroad. Typically in Japan, you would start your job search up to a year before graduation. If you happen to be abroad, you don’t have a fair chance. Thus BCF was born.

Secret shortcut

So the event is a long shot. You will be the token foreigner that crashed the party if you attended. But it is potentially the greatest shortcut to a successful career in Japan.
There is a general rule for companies attending BCF. The rule is that everything at BCF stays at BCF. Wait no that’s Los Vegas.
The rule is, all hiring needs to be decided with-in the three-day event. Which also means there is no long drawn out process of seminars, tests, and further interviews.
This gives you a huge advantage over searching for jobs in Japan.
With a few months of prep, you could interview for all your favorite companies plus 50 others all in a weekend.
Lastly, the forum organizes all participating companies information on the BFC website. No more endless nights of researching company websites, to find out they aren’t looking for people like you.

Why you should go
Three reasons why making the trip to Boston is worth it

  1. Effective & Productive Job search. One location, one time, one format allows you to spend your time wisely. Play that numbers game in your favor. The three-day rule, gets you feedback fast so you don’t waste resources on unnecessary leads.
  2. No prior job experience needed (nor expected). Most job offers are for new grads where the company supplies you with full training. At worst the job becomes a glorified (very well) paid internship, at best a new career and a dream come true.
  3. Once in a lifetime chance. The amount of interview experience you will get during one weekend is enough reason to go all on its own.
BCF_101
The Convention Center , Oct, 2012

My Background

I’ve heard all the excuses in the book.
“My Japanese isn’t good enough”
“I haven’t passed the JLPT N1 yet”
“How am I supposed to compete with native Japanese speakers!?”
My answer is always the same. You and me both!
To be honest, I was on the verge of a nervous wreck. I didn’t have JLPT N1 (I had the N2). I was worried my Japanese wasn’t competent enough, and I didn’t have any other skill to fall back on. What the heck did I get myself into?!
Halftime Locker Room Pep-Talk
I was feeling overwhelmed and belittled. I was in desperate need of an ambition refill, or a locker room pep-talk. You know, the one in the movies. The team is down by… a lot. So the coach delivers the biggest motivational speech that raises everyone’s spirits. In the end, leading to a miraculous victory. Yeah, that’s what I needed.
In a nutshell, the speech I got was something like this.

You have one chance! Don’t F*** it up! In Japan, if you don’t get a job after graduating, you are outcasted as a reject and a weirdo. News flash – you are a weirdo! Thats why you’re studying Japanese in the first place.

If you succeed, you are almost guaranteed a job for life in Japan. With it comes the best Business Japanese Etiquette course. The best part is, you get paid!

So quit that internship, take time off school and go FULL ASS on this. The worst scenario is you come back with a lot of experience. Best scenario, you come back with a future.

Needless to say. I pretty much did exactly that. I didn’t quit my internship. But I did very suspiciously get those specific days off.
After attending BCF myself, I would like to add a bit of first-hand advice to the Locker Room speech.
  • It doesn’t matter if you can’t speak perfect Japanese or understand everything. The greatest thing about being the underdog is, no one will ever see you coming. Nor will they expect you to speak Japanese when you do.
  • Don’t pay attention to what the companies are asking for. They want experience, native speakers, not you… whatever. But you never know! There could be a different opening or the interviewer might just like you. You just can’t know, so don’t let the chance sneak away.

Author: Mr.FriendlyForeigner

When I'm not cramming my life into my 1LDK apartment in Tokyo, you can see me biking/running the city, hanging out with my kids or perusing cafes.

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