Am I setting realistic goals/milestones?

Hello all,

So, I am a 29 year old developer two years out of graduate school (with an MsC in Computer Science/Software Development). I work for a consulting startup in the states that specializes in IoT. I have experience writing web backends, as well as some higher-level device code. This has been using JavaScript, Java and Go. I only have about two years of experience but have had to wear a lot of hats as my company is small and is still growing fast.

Over the last few years I have visited Japan three times. I totally fell in love with Tokyo, and made some good friends along the way. As it comes time for me to explore other career opportunities, I cannot stop thinking about finding a way to work in Tokyo. Ideally, I would be able to make this work in around, or just over a year from now (though I would, of course, be open to something sooner if the opportunity arose).

I am 100% willing to accept that there will be a hit to my salary and benefits that I experience while working at a US startup, but the more I visit, the more I want to see if I can make something work there.

I have set a few goals to help me get there - though there are some caveats.

I do not speak Japanese (besides very, very basic things I use to get around). It is very difficult for me to visit for more than a week or so in the near future (6 months) and most of my connections are not directly related to development. I feel my 2 - 2.5 years of development and grad degree put me in a position of being a pretty standard developer, I feel I don’t offer something super specialized that would warrant me being hired a world away.

So I have set a few goals:

  1. I will begin attending Japanese night classes in July. I know I cannot become fluent in a year, but I figure anything helps.

  2. I will spend the next year saving some runway money for if I have to fend for myself (teaching English, or on a holiday visa or whatever).

  3. I am going to start blogging a bit and try and raise my profile so I have more to point to when I am looking for a job.

So I have some questions:

Is it reasonable with these skills and qualifications to start looking for a job in Japan in the next year?

Are there skills or focuses other than Japanese and continuing to improve as a developer in my duties at my company that could improve my chances?

Is it unreasonable to come for two weeks during a time when there is an international developer meetup or something of the like and hope to expand my connections enough to get a job?

If yes, do most people find jobs efficiently enough that they could search on a tourist visa? I am a US citizen so I cannot get a working holiday visa.

If these are too difficult, I see the best option being to come as an English teacher and then look for work when my contract is up. I do have an undergraduate degree in English, not sure if that would help me at all in being placed in Tokyo and not on the outskirts or some other city. I am most interested in Tokyo because I already have friends there and I have been elsewhere, but Tokyo really calls to me.

I am sorry, this is a bit ramble-y but I suppose I am just looking for a gut check that I am setting realistic expectations for myself. Though I do not know Japanese, I am dedicated to the process of learning it, and I am 100% willing to make sacrifices to make this work.

Thank you so much,


Making connections through events is a long term strategy. While it certainly is possible you’ll get exceptionally lucky and find something while on a trip here, I think the chances aren’t so great.

Rather than just attending event, you could try to present at one. By presenting at an event, you’ll expand you network a lot quicker than being a more passive participant. If you haven’t done any presentations before, I’d start by doing it locally.

Whether you ultimately succeed at getting a job here or not depends too much on your individual circumstances to say what your chances are.


Thanks for the reply. After some thinking and talking to a few other people working there, I agree that I would want to have more time to network and figure things out.

I’m planning to come as a teacher in Summer or Fall 2018. To keep my programming chops, I plan to remain diligent about my side projects and attending meetups. I hope the gap in work history isn’t too bad, but I figure with a full year over there it will be enough time to do the meetup/talk thing and get a feel for the tech scene in Tokyo.

Thanks again for the reply, I really appreciate this site - I’m sure I’ll have more questions and whatnot when I’m there.


What are you planning to do for a teaching job? JET?
I am also looking to apply to teaching jobs as a way to get into the country and have time to bolster my developer and Japanese skills.