Dear Sharmine

Hello Jin Han!

Just gonna ride on this comment here because I too, have some questions of my own that I hope you may be able to help me answer ><

Some info about me: I’m 20 years old now, and am a uni year 1 student in a private university in Tokyo (the school’s 偏差値 is about 50, so it’s mediocre at best). I couldn’t enter any local universities in Singapore and I didn’t wanna enter a private uni in Singapore, so I applied for my current university, and they have decided to pay for my school fees up until I graduate so long as I get a GPA of 2.5 and above. Sounds like a really good deal, huh? Thing is, I don’t like the school’s curriculum because it’s a bit too… elementary for me and it is really much, much simpler than my diploma (in the same field). At this rate, even after my graduation I don’t think I will be able to secure a good job in Singapore… Which is why I plan to get some working experience here in Japan before going back. I only have a JLPT N3, and I plan to study for JLPT N1 this December, but I’m not too sure if I can manage it. I know many work as English teachers in Japan, but I’m not keen on that because my English level is really too horrible to teach anyone, plus I have a really Singaporean accent although I’m trying to improve it.

My question is, (sorry for the long background on myself) are Japanese companies easy to get into? I’m really concerned about the ‘black’-ness aspect of most companies (as far as I heard from people)… I do not wish to slave my years away for companies that do not appreciate their employees. Also, if possible, do you have any advice for someone in my situation? I have course mates who wants to transfer to other universities, but I don’t think it’s financially feasible for me, then again, the financial trade off might be worth it if I can get into a good school like Tokyo University. What do you think?

Thank you so much for reading this! I am really glad that you’re uploading frequently now, I love to receive notifications of your new posts!

Hi Sharmine,

I was talking with Ms. D last night, and for some reason, she asked if I was going to reply to your comment back in August, regarding which, I didn’t even realise I hadn’t responded. When she asked whether I was going to respond to you, my first response was, “Who?”

So as a symbol of my apology for missing out on the reply, here’s a dedicated post.

Some many years ago, I got to know this Australian girl, R, who moved to Japan to fulfill her dream to become a singer. Her reason to move here was because she wanted to do Japanese music. After some time here, she decided to enroll herself to a music school. But a year later, she felt she didn’t like the school and wondered if she should complete her studies with the school despite her tight financial situation. She didn’t want to leave mid-way through the course because she just had another year to go and that would make her lose her graduation certification. Your situation reminds me of her, even though her case is slightly different. For R, the main benefit of her going through the course was so that she can gain more musical knowledge to help her produce better songs. In that sense, graduation is not crucial for her since the certification itself doesn’t add much value to her music. So I suggested that if she thinks many of the courses are a waste of time, she should just do the ones that can benefit her the most and then leave without graduating. For you, since I have no clue what your major is, I would refrain from giving the same advice but it’s important that you identify the purpose of taking the course in order to help you arrive at the best option that is appropriate for you. Would graduation from your current university benefit you on what you intend to do? If it cannot bring you any positive outcome in terms of providing you with more knowledge in your field, nor can it create any value in your life other than the fact that you can fill in the education section of social networking service as “Graduate,” then it may be good to rethink your options.

if you’re not interested in teaching English, don’t. Being a fresh graduate of a Japanese university, your options are much wider than the regular foreigner. Don’t throw away the opportunity by going into teaching, which is not what you want to do anyway. Any other job experience here would put you in a better stead than teaching, unless that is what you want to do in the long run.

To be honest, “are Japanese companies easy to get into” is too generic a question to answer. There are companies that are not that tough to get into and there are companies that are very tough to get into. And the fact is, the ones that are tough to get into are likely due to popularity and high competition. If you have what it takes and apply to a company that no one else applies for, it’ll be easy to get into. Likewise, if you’re competing with a few thousand people for one position, it’s harder. The best way to find out if a business is one of those “black companies” is to do a search online as there’s plenty of information on such companies available. But of course, some may slip through the cracks.

If you think what you are doing now gives you zero value, then perhaps a switch to the next tertiary institute might be better. Tokyo University is the best university in the whole of Japan. If you can get into that, or even any other more decent colleges that are aplenty around Tokyo, then your money is well spent. You said your current degree possibly could not help you secure a job and based on that, it just sounds like it would be no different from going to a degree mill to say you want to purchase a degree and they said you have to pay with 4 years of your life.

Of course, I do not have all the information about you to make any informed decisions for you. But here’s the thing: I didn’t come from a well to do family either, and if I were in that school, I would probably stay on. That sounds like I’m contradicting myself, but I’m not. And it’s not just because I would be unable to finance myself. The reason for my choice comes down to my purpose at the school. I had no interest in continuing my studies in college. The only reason I applied to NUS was to get to stay in Japan, which I’ve written about tons of times. So, the only possible reason that I can be in the same shoes as you is that, I wanted to live in Japan and staying on at the school fulfills my goal. So, my point is, whatever you do, be aware of the purpose of that action. That way, it’ll be easier for you to make decisions.

Last, thank you for reading as well. I also love logging in and seeing comments, so do keep commenting. Hope this gives you more points of reference to what your next step should be.

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