Achieving Your Goal to Work in Japan
Having goals, no matter how big or small gives you a sense of purpose. But the journey to achieving your goals is not always a flowery path – you are met with challenges and setbacks along the way, making you wonder, “Is it all worth it?”.
We all had days where we wanted to give up on our dreams – but giving up is not an option, and we keep going because our goals and journey are equally worthwhile.
Tien Anh, aka TA, joined Tokyo Techies in January 2023 as a backend engineer after working remotely for two years in Vietnam at Tokyo Tech Lab (Sister company of Tokyo Techies). Since his undergraduate years, TA has worked hard towards his dreams of working in Japan, and now, he’s finally achieved it by joining the Tokyo Techies team in Tokyo!
Learn more about TA’s journey from studying IT and Japanese in Vietnam to becoming a backend engineer at Tokyo Techies.
Hi TA! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Hey, I'm Nguyen Tien Anh, but it’s kinda hard to pronounce my name for those who are not Vietnamese, so most people call me "TA" instead. I’m 23 years old and originally from Hanoi, Vietnam. I studied at Hanoi University of Science and Technology for my undergraduate degree. I worked as a Backend Engineer at Tokyo Tech Lab for a few years before I moved to Japan to work for Tokyo Techies.
Before you came to Japan, you previously worked with Tokyo Tech Lab in Vietnam. How did you end up joining the Tokyo Techies team in Tokyo?
I've always been eager to push myself and work in a global setting, and I thought Tokyo Techies would be the perfect place to do that. One of the things that drew me to this company is the team's diversity. Everyone at Tokyo Techies come from different parts of the world, creating this dynamic and vibrant work environment that I find really inspiring.
Can you tell us about your journey to Japan?
Back in college, I decided to major in IT and Japanese language, which gave me plenty of opportunities to learn more about Japan's culture, such as food, cherry blossom, and its cultural traditions. What's more, my brother, who was already working in Japan then, told me so many exciting stories about his experience in Japan, which made me more eager to find a job there.
I knew that to land a job in a global working environment in Japan, I had to focus on three things; my technical skills and my ability to speak Japanese and English. When I was looking for jobs, I specifically looked for IT companies that worked with Japanese companies, which is how I found Tokyo Tech Lab. I applied for a position there and learned a ton of technical knowledge.
For Japanese, besides following my major’s curriculum in university, I spent 30 minutes or an hour every day listening to a Japanese Podcast on Youtube to strengthen my Japanese listening skills, and I passed the JLPT (Japanese-Language Proficiency Test) at the N2 level in 2022.
As for English, I was lucky enough to have many foreign friends who spoke English with me daily, which helped me improve my English skills a lot. Everything seemed to go pretty smoothly after graduating from university, and I felt more than ready to move to Japan!
Did you face any obstacles while working towards your goal of working in Japan?
When I was working towards landing a job in Japan, my biggest challenge was figuring out how to manage my time. Back in Vietnam, I was busy learning Japanese, English, and IT skills and pursuing other hobbies. I played the drums in two metal bands, and we had a lot of gigs, which meant lots of rehearsals and hanging out with my bandmates. I also loved playing basketball and used to hit the court 2-3 times a week, sometimes even more.
To make the most of my time and stay on top of my work, I tried to find ways to combine the things I had to do with the things I enjoyed doing. For example, I love music and basketball, so I would watch videos about basketball shoes and guitar reviews in Japanese and English to learn and have fun simultaneously. I also found ways to make studying more interesting, like doing code jams with my friends or participating in coding competitions. Doing this allowed me to make consistent progress in achieving my dreams while still having time for myself.
How are you adjusting to life in Tokyo?
One of the toughest challenges I faced when I first moved to Japan was living alone for the first time. I had to rent my place, cook my meals, and figure out how to set up all my furniture by myself. It was a lot to handle at first, but looking back on it now, I think it was a very precious experience.
Living alone gave me a chance to grow and become more independent. I had to figure out how to take care of myself and my living space all on my own, which was a big change from living together with family. It wasn't always easy, but I'm glad I had that experience because it helped me become more self-sufficient.
What are the most significant differences between living in Vietnam and Japan?
One of the biggest differences between Japan and Vietnam is the traffic system. Here in Japan, people walk a lot and rely on public transportation like trains and buses, which I appreciate. It's a great way to get around and helps reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.
In Vietnam, on the other hand, people often rely on private transportation like motorcycles and cars, which can lead to many traffic jams and pollution. That's one of the things I like about Japan – the air is so fresh and clean here. Since I arrived, I've been taking advantage of that by doing much more jogging outside. It's a great way to stay active and enjoy the beautiful scenery at the same time.
How are you finding your new role in Tokyo Techies?
My tasks at Tokyo Techies were similar to what I had when I worked at Tokyo Tech Lab in Vietnam. However, the discussions became more dynamic since we could now meet in person, making it easier to approach my team members and deal with any problems. I also had one-on-one meetings with my leaders to establish achievable goals within a specific time frame, which motivated me to work even harder.
How would you describe the team culture and work environment at Tokyo Techies?
"Work-life balance" is the phrase I always use when I think of Tokyo Techies' working environment. You can work from anywhere as long as you can ensure your output and quality of work remain the same. Everyone here at Tokyo Techies is very open and supportive; they always welcome me whenever I have anything to ask. It's an environment where you can feel comfortable and confident from your first day!
In what ways has Tokyo Techies supported you to feel more integrated in Japan?
The day I came to Japan, I was pretty nervous since I didn't know much about the immigration procedures or how to get to the office because I didn't have a SIM card to access the Internet. But Tokyo Techies had a colleague who picked me up at the airport and helped take care of those things with me.
While looking for my own place, I was allowed to stay at one of Tokyo Techies colleagues’ house. I got a lot of help from the HR/Admin to process the necessary papers, and the team also brought me to the restaurants close by to try out many kinds of delicious foods around the office.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role at Tokyo Techies?
My short-term goals are to use my technical and trilingual skills (English, Japanese, Vietnamese), and I hope to learn more about the company's culture. My long-term goals are to grow up and learn more about running an IT project in-depth since I hope to take on more managerial responsibilities.
If you were to give a message or advice to someone who wants to work in Japan’s tech scene, what would you say?
For those seeking an opportunity to work in Japan, I think you should try your best to set up a proper roadmap as soon as possible and go all in for it; all of your efforts will not go to waste!