I occasionally get asked how I came to be living and working in Japan.
Invariably, my answer is that I was lucky — lucky that Cookpad brought me over from France to work on their fantastic service, and lucky that I was looking for new opportunities at the same time as the fine folks at AQ (my current employer) were looking to start building in-house engineering.
But landing a great job — a job that truly makes you grow in your craft — of course isn’t just a matter of luck, nor is it just a matter of skills, or of the diploma in your pocket. Of course, all these factors matter, but they’re nowhere as important as creating value or, in other words, creating your luck.
Engineers — creating your own luck means taking steps to show that you already belong where you want to be. If you want to work for that one awesome company that builds fantastic web services with some of the smartest people around, you better either have tons of prior experience (which is hard when you’re a recent graduate), or be able to show that you’re genuinely interested in the field.
These following things will make smart people excited about working with you:
I guess the above advice is in line with the thinking outlined in books such as James Altucher’s Choose Yourself and Reid Hoffman’s The Startup of You — invest in yourself and your skills, do things that you love, and the rest will follow.
As for my own personal story of coming to live and work in Japan, here it is. After being increasingly unhappy working “normal” jobs after graduating, I ended up trying to launch a startup with two friends. After some time, our startup failed, but in the process we have learned to build and launch an online service.
I knew I wanted to spend some time in Japan next, so following the March 2011 earthquake and Fukushima nuclear accident, I built a very small service called Japan Status that tracked radiation levels across the country. It turned out that an engineer at Cookpad (hi Viktor!) had been working on the same thing, and so after exchanging a few emails, he introduced me to the company. A few months later I was on a plane to Tokyo to start an exciting new chapter of my life and career.
A lot of luck was certainly involved, but I do like to think, in retrospect, that I nudged my luck in the right direction.
P.S.: I wrote this from an engineer’s perspective, but as you will see if you read the books I linked above, this should probably be applicable to whatever field you’re in. If you can provide value, nothing can stop you.
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Disclaimer: I do not work for Softbank and obviously have no idea what I’m doing. Please don’t come complaining if you get a phone bill in the hundreds of thousands of yen.
One of the better decisions I have made recently as a builder of websites was to sign up for several newsletters:
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