tokyodev forum

Ideas about short-term work? (4-5 months)

Hello there. I’m having a somewhere tricky situation at hand about work opportunities for a short period of time (around 4-5 months). To make things clearer please let me put my current situation in bullet points:

  • Is already living in Tokyo, arrived here last September
  • Has an Engineering/Humanity/International visa valid until September
  • Current startup went bust, availability starts in April
  • Going to grad school this year so must leave Japan by August

So that put me into the situation where I have to either find short-term full-time work in Tokyo until August, or pack up and go back to {insert_home_country} and stay at parent’s inaka house until school starts.

My top pick is of course to try to get a new job and continue my initial plan that brought me to Japan: to be a working tourist. I’ve been trying to look for companies that are doing some short term projects to which I might be of help. But so far, after getting in touch with a couple nice recruiters and some resume spamming on job boards, I’ve realized the following problems:

  • My skill of Core Python/Django is not really in high demand, similar roles would be filled more often by RoR
  • Speaking no Japanese is a big minus
  • Cannot work with Java is a big minus
  • Being a Django developer but cannot do full-stack work is a big minus

I’m by no means saying I only know Python/Django, it’s just that I feel that for Java, PHP, front-end etc I would need supervision from an experienced engineer, and that makes me less confident in advertising those skills. I’m used to do a lot of different things in my old jobs: managing AWS, Linux administration, DB administration, CI/CD pipeline, infrastructure, etc, you name it; but I’m not exactly sure where I am in terms of skillfulness.

So I’d like to get your opinion on the following things:

  1. Is my skill set really not great and I’d be better off just go home and wait till school?
  2. Is it actually feasible/realistic to find work that lasts only a couple months on a work visa with no intention to stay longer?
  3. Is there any other places I can look for jobs other than the job boards and recruiters? (I’d like to go to meetups but the current corona situation is not helping)

Thanks for reading and any opinion is welcome.

Rather than your skill set, the bigger issue you have is finding work for a short term duration.

Most job boards are listing positions for full time developers, with the expectation you’re going to work with the company for years at a minimum. If you’re being upfront with them that you’re only looking for work for four to five months, that’s probably why you’re not being considered. If you’re not, it’s being deceptive.

Similarly, recruiters won’t be motivated to help you. Not only is them receiving a full comission contingent on you being employed typically for 6+ months, it’s going to look bad on them if you quit soon after.

It sounds what you should be looking for is freelancing work. As far as I’m aware, you’re unlikely to find any freelancing work in English online though. Pretty much all the international freelancers I know get jobs through their personal network. If I was to look online for Japan based jobs, I would do it on Japanese sites. There’s still the possibility of finding a job that’s looking for both development and English skills, so even if the job ad is in Japanese, it’s theoretically possible that they’d still consider you.

Of course if you’re looking for online freelance roles, there’s no need to restrict your search to Japan. International freelancing sites might be a better bet. If they aren’t Japanese companies though, you may run into visa issues, and need to return your own country to do the work legally.

The other thing to consider, if your company went bust, theoretically you should be eligible for unemployment benefits in Japan. I’d investigate that more to see if that’s on the table.