TokyoDev forum

Career Advice for soon-to-be International Masters graduate

Hello Everyone!
I am 29 from Malaysia, studying Master of Software Development in Utah, US. Decided to do a career switch from B.S. Civil Engineering. Realized I took on most of the programming-related (mostly Python) work even within my previous company that still loved to program. Hence, my career switch from Civil Engineering to Software Development.
Decided to do some planning as I always wanted to move to Japan which is close to my family in Malaysia but not necessarily work in Malaysia due to economic reasons.
Thinking of a long-term goal that I should set right now since I have 1 year before my graduation, which is why it is helpful I found this forum.

With no prior work experience in programming field after graduating, should I

  1. Find a company willing to hire me before my graduation?
  2. Create contributions to open source as much as I can before graduation to increase my chances of getting hired?
  3. Work 1-3 years locally (in Utah) after graduation to boost my employability with Japanese employers?
  4. Any suggestions?

I just want to know what is the best course of action since I definitely plan to move to Japan one way or another but at the same time not trying to waste precious time making the wrong move.


Question I have is,

Because of how Japanese hiring works you’ll typically only be hired by a Japanese company either before you graduate (as a “fresh grad”) or after you have several years of experience (as a “mid career”). Finding something in Japan once you’ve graduated but haven’t picked up at least a couple years of experience is almost impossible.

Japanese companies are hire university students in the US through places like the Boston Career Forum, or by directly recruiting at universities. Bigger companies may also list positions on their careers page. The recruiting departments are normally divided between “fresh grad” and “mid career” too, so I personally don’t have much experience with this side. You might try visiting the careers pages of companies using TokyoDev directly, and looking to see what they offer. If you have a year left until you graduate, this is something I’d start doing immediately.

Open source contributions can help you get hired world wide, so if there’s a particular library you’re enthusiastic about, you could try helping out.

Since your university leads to having local connections, this is something I’d also look at pursuing in parallel. With JPY/USD exchange rates being what they are right now, at least in the short term, you have chances to be compensated significantly better in the US.

Unfortunately there’s no fool proof plan to moving to Japan. I wouldn’t worry too much about making the optimal decision. As you’re at the beginning of your career, I’d be focused on optimizing for learning, as you’ll be able to turn that into many more opportunities later down the line.

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