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Can I work in Japan as a fresh graduate student

Hi there,
I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science in the United States (major rank top 30) and currently enrolled in a master’s degree in computer engineering at NYU (graduating this Fall). And I am right now in China and having online classes. I have done many programming projects but not too complicated like the industry level. Japanese culture is really attracting me. So could you guys give some suggestions about that is it possible for me to find a programmer job here? I would like to go to language school here this fall while finishing my last semester of my master’s degree at the same time if I am a strong candidate. I am also thinking about having a second computer master’s degree (English master program) here if it helps me to get a job. But it seems like it will take me another 2+ years which could be some kind of wasting time. I will be appreciated if someone gives me some suggestions.

You’ve probably already seen my guide to getting your first job here, which should cover most of the basics.

In general, Japan has two tracks for recruitment:

  1. University students
  2. Mid-career hires

Companies mostly only hire domestically for university students, and if not, they may target a select number of universities. In my experience, most international engineers working in Japan don’t go that route.

The mid-career hire route doesn’t necessarily mean someone has much experience. Rather they’re being hired on the basis of their technical skills, and not something like the name of their university. It’s theoretically possible to get hired this way as a new grad (I did), but you tend to need to already be in Japan.

So more academic credentials are unlikely to help you secure a job in Japan, unless you’re going for some part of the industry that specifically values it (e.g. data science).

Thank you for your reply. So it is possible to get a job if I am in a language school here and trying to find a job correct? (go through the mid-career hire route as you said) About more academic credentials part, what you are trying to say is only if I am studying some specific major like data science and others like AI. But two years of studying here can get me better used to its culture here and improve my language skills right? Although it will take two more years to get these skills.

One way people do come to Japan is via a language school. While attending such a school, it’s possible to make local connections, and look for a job. Note that in order to maintain a visa, you need to actually attend language classes, and so you’d potentially be quite busy if you’re doing a masters at the same time.

I think I misunderstood your original question. If it’s with regards to attending a Japanese university, this isn’t something I have much experience with personally. However, my impression is that while there are some exceptions, generally speaking the quality of Japanese university isn’t that great, and many international students have a disappointing experience.

Your experience will probably depend on the individual lab you were to join. I think the best way to do this is to use your academic connections, and perhaps if there’s a professor doing research connected to what you’re doing your masters degree in, you could contact them.

In addition to doing a masters degree, I believe there are some programs that would potentially allow you to visit as a researcher.

Thank you! So for foreign university new grads, they can’t go and get hired in the University students route correct? They can only go in the mid-career hire route if I get it clearly. However, when I searching jobs in the mid-career hire route, I saw that most of the jobs require years of working experience. Is it kind of hard for new grads trying to find jobs in this way?

While if you are enrolled in a Japanese university in say a masters program, you can theoretically go the new grad route. However, then you tend to be directly competing against Japanese students for Japanese-speaking roles, so it’s harder for you to take advantage of your internationalness. While I do know of some people who have succeeded this way, I know of others who have attempted it but were unable to secure a position.

Most companies are requiring several years of work experience. But that’s not necessarily a hard requirement, and if you can demonstrate you’re exceptionally talented, you may be able to bypass it. Things like contributing to a major open source project, or having an impressive application you’ve built yourself can help here.