Tokyo Dev

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Am I doing it right?



I am an entry level android developer from India looking to live and work in Japan sometime in the future. I have a strong preference in working small teams or any environment that can foster a lot of learning in a short amount time (startup culture). From what I have gathered, such environments are prevalent mostly in Tokyo and startups with a western style of management.

Relevant background: I have a BE Mechanical Engineering, but transitioned into being an android developer.

My current approach to get my foot through the door is as follows( ‘*’ denotes likelihood of me not doing it):

1.Get a few years worth of work experience under my belt and have GitHub repositories to show for it.
2.Learn Japanese (N3 minimum)
3.**Present in conferences (this is a bit tricky because software engineers int the first few years of their career aren’t compensated well enough to finance a stay abroad, especially in places like Tokyo), but I can do it in my own home country, not sure whether it will add any value.
4.Applying to consultancy firms (though I am not sure if I will be advertised to non traditional Japanese companies or startups in Tokyo)
5.**Participating in hackathons in my country
6.**Showcasing my HackerRank (or other reputed coding competition) score if it’s good enough.

Well, the above are the means I can think of increasing visibility in the job market. I considered doing masters, but that doesn’t seem to guarantee me a job and is also quite expensive. Since I have heard that candidates who are on a student visa are only allowed to work for 28 hours/week, internships may also not be possible.

So, am I doing all the right things or would you suggest any changes? Which ones would be a best left avoided etc.?


In general, I think you’re on the right track.

The more Japanese skill you have, the more opportunities are available. While having something like N3 helps in that it demonstrates you’ve invested in coming to Japan, its probably not enough to get a job where you’d work in Japanese. For that, companies are typically looking for at least N2.

For presenting at conferences, I’d start at local developer meetups, as the barrier is the lowest. If you discover you like presenting, then you could move on to local conferences, and then start applying to international ones that cover transportation costs.

Participating in hackathons might help but probably primarily by making other developer connections. Often what you produce in one is too insignificant to help you land a job.

As an employer, I wouldn’t care about coding competition scores, as I think doing well on them doesn’t translate into someone who’s going to be a good developer, but others might think different.

I’d only go the Masters route if your primary interest the program itself. Its theoretically possible to get a scholarship to cover the costs.


One thing to add, for mobile developers, is to build a portfolio of apps that are published in the store. App release / maintenance cycle experience is something that is sought after by companies.