Anyone who moves to Japan for the first time, including me, has had a difficult time getting a part-time job (also known as a baito (バイト)). It took me a while to get my first baito as a foreigner in Japan.

  1. Start from scratch

It’s undeniable that I didn’t do any preparation before heading to Japan. I didn’t learn enough Japanese (which is perhaps one of my biggest regrets), and I knew very little about Japanese culture. Coming to Japan like a blank piece of paper, I panicked in the first month of living here. As you know, Japan is not an English-speaking country, but my university program was entirely in English. It was definitely “strange” for me to choose a country where English is not widely spoken, and it took me around 2-3 months to adapt to this new environment, new life, and new language. I still remember the first time I went shopping at a 100-yen store, and I did not understand what the salesman said. And I “survived” by imitating what the person before me had done. I observed and noticed every action of the people around me.

Consequently, I gradually adapted to life in Japan. I have gotten more used to the study pace and become familiar with friends and school. About three months after my arrival, a thought just came to me: “Ah, it’s time to start looking for a part-time job!” As a privately funded student, it is easy to understand that I struggle with financial burden. I started looking for a job that was quite popular for English-speaking students at that time – English teacher. Sadly, I was turned down due to my lack of experience and the fact that I am not a “native English speaker.” I was quite depressed and disappointed at the time, wondering why I couldn’t find a job.

2. To the first part-time job

Fortunately, I received a recommendation from a Vietnamese friend to apply for a job at a factory. The job description was straightforward: inspect little plastic components and remove those that were defective. I bought resume templates (履歴書) sold at bookstores and wrote down my basic information. It was also my first time practicing writing resumes in Japanese.

I was contacted for an interview and to begin work about a week after submitting my application. I was always frightened of making mistakes at first, since this work required extreme focus to figure out erroneous pieces. With the help of my coworkers, I quickly adapted and improved my working speed. All of the employees at the workplace were foreigners. Even though I couldn’t speak much Japanese at the time, they were indeed supportive. Although the salary was not high at the time, and the factory was far from the station (a 20-minute bus ride), the factory owner usually gave us money for food during our 30-minute afternoon break.

3. And a new beginning

Despite the fact that the working atmosphere was great, I only stayed for about two months. The task wasn’t too difficult, but it was easy to become tired. Because of my tight class schedule, I usually worked a full day on the weekends, concluding in an eight-hour shift per day. When I spent a long time looking at little details, I noticed that my eyes worsened. As a result, I decided to look for another job. I was quite blessed to be accepted into a restaurant with an adequate Japanese level.

Working part-time has taught me many things. As a student, I learned how to plan my schedule to earn extra money in addition to attending school. Moreover, I learned about the working culture in Japan. Although the things I learned were not enough, they helped me integrate better into Japanese life.


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