My name is Melody, and I am currently working as a designer at Scoville. Before that, I worked in Game UI, back in Canada. My background is in illustration and web design. I was very lucky to find Scoville here and be able to apply my learning from Canada to my current job.
What are your current duties?
My job here is visual designer/designer and right now I am working on maintaining Scoville’s product Mikketa. Prior to that, I was helping out with the recruit site and the designs for the corporate website.
So you came to Japan with a working holiday visa. What is the reason why you have decided to come to Japan in the first place?
I visited Japan a few times before, and the last time before my WH visa I was here for 3 months. I really enjoyed living here and everything was so convenient. I also had interest in Japanese culture and design and arts and so I decided to try my luck with a WH visa and luckily, I came right before the pandemic so I was able to enter Japan.
I had some troubles finding a job because of the pandemic, not many people were hiring when I first came so it’s been a long journey.
This is the first time you are living in Japan, how is it going？
It’s challenging (laughter). I think the visa stuff is a little stressful sometimes but Scoville is great, they are offering us Japanese lessons so I am trying to bridge that gap in language, and other than that it is very easy to live. Besides the Japanese knowledge, I think everything is pretty straightforward, of course the pandemic kind of shifted things a little, so I can not see my co-workers everyday, but we are trying to come to the office, we call each other and sometimes go for lunch. It’s definitely a different experience than what I was expecting!
You are taking Japanese lessons？
Yes, Scoville offers Japanese lessons once a week for people who are interested, so in my free time I am trying to study as much as I can ! I just passed N5 and I am currently studying for N4. My listening is definitely better than my speaking. (laughter)
Did you have some struggles when looking for a job?
Yes, definitely. When I first came here I just wanted to enjoy a little bit so I was hoping to get a part-time job in a coffee shop or something that would get me to speak Japanese but it was very difficult because of the pandemic, so I shifted and started looking for design jobs. I went on Linkedin but most of the jobs need at least a minimum N2 level of Japanese, so I was already disqualified by that. I tried other websites and applied to a few jobs, went to a few interviews but I think it was just like a weird time to be hiring so I had a lot of rejections and for a while I didn’t apply to anything because I didn’t feel like I wanted to be rejected again (laughter)
I think the biggest challenge is the Japanese level and the amount of people that were hiring at that time.
I was recommended to find agents or recruitment companies but I was not sure where to go and who specializes in helping expats or foreigners.
Were you surprised by some things during interviews ?
I applied to some companies and I was surprised because I had to fill a lot of forms before getting an interview !(laughter)
I was also surprised by the salary. I was asked how much I am currently making and how much I was expecting. It was a problem for me because I was working as a contractor back in Canada so my taxes were different, so putting a number on how much I am making or how much I was expecting was a little weird. I didn’t know where to put my range since my range in Canada was higher than what my job in Japan would be, so I did a lot of research to find if my expectations were too high or too low, and to adjust my priorities. It was interesting.
Are there some things you wish someone had told you before you came to Japan to find a job?
I think my expectations were a bit low, so I came with a WH visa and I thought it was ok if I didn’t find a job, and if I’d find a job that would be great, but I don’t know if I did enough research for myself before coming. It’s been a difficult journey but I think I learnt a lot.
What did you feel when you finally got an offer?
Relief! (laughter) I was excited and nervous of course because before Scoville I had only worked for one company and never transitioned from one company to another. I was nervous to know if my skills would transfer, especially in a different country, with a different language and going outside of that bubble that I knew. I was a bit nervous to be able to gain the trust of the company and see if my work is up to the same level. I was nervous, but in a good way! (laughter)
Did you have stereotypes about Japanese companies ?
Before coming to Japan, I heard stories about black companies; the stereotype that everybody works overtime. I think I wasn’t so concerned about working for a Japanese company because I felt that the company I would like to work for wouldn’t force that but that was my thinking (laughter) I guess my mentally is if I feel I burnt out I would quit and I don’t want to feel like I am stuck in one place. So right now, I feel very lucky because there is no overtime here and everything is super flexible; we have flextime so we can work whenever we want. I feel like Scoville is completely different from what my image of a traditional Japanese company is , in a very good way! They are much more lenient than in any company I have ever worked for. Canada was a good experience but Scoville is even more.
Do you have some advice for people who are looking for a job in Japan?
Don’t give up! Take a break from job hunting if it’s too much, because when I was first looking for a job it was very demotivating when you get rejected a lot, but just taking a break and then trying again on a different side or avenue really helped.
Be prepared to fill a lot of forms and talk about your salary (laughter)