tokyodev forum

Changing careers, long-term Japan resident. Looking for advice

Hi all!

I’m a long-term resident of Japan. Came here in the early 2000s. Started off in the countryside and then moved to Tokyo a few years later. My Japanese is “alright” could be a lot better, and I’m a PR visa holder here.

So, to try and be as brief as possible, Like a lot of English-speaking foreigners in Japan, I came here as an English teacher (actually, I was an English teacher back home). I work two jobs now. One at a private high-school, and one office job as an editor/proof-reader. Both jobs are pretty well-paying, it’s a good lifestyle, but you know, there’s always been the nagging voice in the back of my mind that I need more skills. Anyway, last year, something clicked and I started learning HTML and CSS. I’m pretty interested in web-dev, so I started learning JavaScript as well.

During the stay-home period I enrolled in the MITx Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python course to lay down a foundation in some basic CS and programming concepts. After finishing it, I started the Harvard, CS50w - Web Development with Python and JavaScript course. Really enjoying it so far as I’m doing actual web-dev projects now.

So, in my downtime, apart from learning to code, lately I’ve been researching what it would take to get a job in the field (outside of the technical skills, obviously). A lot of advice recommends networking and building contacts. Part of my research on this lead me here. The whole situation with covid makes the networking situation a bit messy, but I’m guessing there are some useful opportunities to network for foreigners, right?

Other than all that, I’d be really grateful for any advice on changing careers here. Is it realistic? Has anyone else here done it, or know of anyone who has? I do worry about my age. I turned 40 a couple of years ago and it seems like such a big number and am a little conscious of it. I keep worrying, “who in their right mind would hire someone with no professional experience and is over 40?” Actually, just reading that puts the shivers up me.

Anyway, feel free to tell me if this a crazy idea. If it’s not, I’d love to hear any advice.

There certainly are people who have made the transition to being software developers, even later in their life.

While companies won’t be so enthusiastic to hire someone without any experience, if you progress to the point where you can demonstrate you can deliver value from day one, it should be possible to find something.

One approach is to work on your own projects. If you can build something that’s interesting and useful to other people, it goes a long way to show that you have actual skills. There isn’t a formula for this though, and people who go this route usually start it as a hobby, and only after they’ve found success with something, pivot their career.

The more direct approach would be to attend a coding bootcamp. Code Chrysalis and Le Wagon Tokyo are the two English language ones. They’re an investment, and just attending won’t be sufficient to land a job, but they do provide a focused way of obtaining skills, and some support on your job search (I’d talk with them about how much they actually support you).