TokyoDev forum

Getting an entry-level (Junior) position in Japan


I recently joined this community, and I want to share my background and my goal to see if you find it possible.

I am a mathematics PhD student here in Japan. Recently I have been a little unmotivated to continue in this academic path. I believe that working with software development will suit me better, since I really enjoy coding and working on more concrete projects (as oposed to the abstract mathematics projects I currently work with).

I really like living in Japan, and it would be amazing to find a job here. But I have no actual experience in working as a developer. Currently I am working on my PhD (which I am not sure I want to fininsh), and on my free time I study/practice coding (mainly Python and Javascript).

My Japanese is not that good, I am around N2 level (but I don’t have a certificate). So, in my view, working in a Japanese speaking enviroment is totally out of the table, since for that I believe I would need a much higher level of Japanese and proficiency in using keigo.

So I was hoping to continue my coding self-study journey (for another 8 to 12 months) and start applying for jobs that don’t require a high level of Japanese (that would be around June-October of 2023).

The problem is that most of the advertised jobs that don’t require Japanese proficiency, ask for 3, 5 or more years of experience in the industry. So my question is: are there any Junior Developer jobs in english speaking companies here in Japan?

If there are, where can I find those?

Thanks in advance for the help!

It’s quite rare for Japanese companies to advertise junior developer positions. This is because they divide their hiring into “new grads” and “mid-career”. With the “new grad” path they recruit university students based on their background (e.g. what school they’re attending), often with little regard for their actual skills. Since you’re on a PhD in Japan, it’s possible that you could go down that route. Your professor or school should be able to give your more advise about that.

It’s possible that you could find something yourself. When you say you have a N2 level of Japanese, that could mean quite a range of things, as the exam only tests your passive abilities, and it’s possible to pass it without being able to actually communicate in Japanese. But if you do have conversational Japanese abilities, I wouldn’t rule out working in a Japanese environment. If you’re working as a developer at a Japanese startup, I don’t think they’re going to be expecting you to use keigo, and if you’re otherwise a good fit, it’s possible they’ll work around your Japanese abilities. You could try contacting companies via Wantedly, even those that aren’t explicitly recruiting international talent, and maybe you’ll find something.

Since you’re here in Japan, you could also look for networking opportunities. A lot of “junior” positions aren’t advertised. Companies don’t want to pay to find these developers, as they both aren’t so difficult to find, and aren’t so valuable as more senior ones. But if you talk to the right person, you might find something.