Engineering Career in Japan

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On Saturday, September 4th, 2021, Act Global organized a webinar called “Engineering Career in Japan”, the event was held online with 40 participants. We invited Fritz Dean Rivo Gultom as a speaker, he was a mechanical engineer in a Japanese multinational company. He is also one of the alumni of Mechanical Engineering, Gajah Mada University, Indonesia. We hope that the experience shared by Mr.Fritz can motivate us more and add insight into career life in Japan.

Photo by Cory Schadt.

Who does not know Japan? A developed country that is known for its work ethic, as well as the discipline towards high regulation. We all know how Japan has rebuilt itself after repeated disasters. Japan has also proven to be a role model in terms of research and development in various industries -from engineering and pharmaceuticals to robotics-. Japan also has a strong academic community, with encouragement achieved through 28 Nobel Prize winners. So, it is not surprising that many young people from various parts of the world want to acquire knowledge or develop their abilities in this Land of the Rising Sun.
There are various Japanese companies in Indonesia, one of the most advanced is from the manufacturing industry. So to facilitate the expansion of industrial business, Japan also recruited workers from various countries in Asia, such as Indonesia. This is a good opportunity for us to get work experience there.

So what do we need to know and prepare if we want to have a career in Japan? What we need to do first is; we should explore more information regarding job opportunities in Japan, which can be obtained through various online platforms. Career development in Japan varies from long-term to short-term. Document preparation becomes one of the important things in the selection process. According to Mr.Fritz, other than diplomas and our transcripts, it is also important to have a certificate that is related to our expertise. Assuming we are Engineering graduates, then the supporting documents are such as Certificates of Expertise for Construction Experts, or in the form of portfolio projects that we have worked on. It is better before working in Japan, we already know the abilities that we master, and consider whether these skills are suitable for the company we are going to.

After selecting workers, what are the administrative requirements for departure to Japan? The first step that must be carried out is to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (CEO) from the Japanese government. The company will recommend this COE after the workers pass the administrative files and medical tests. The Certificate of Eligibility (COE) that has been obtained can be used further in the process of obtaining a VISA and a letter for a temporary stay in Japan. It can be seen that workers from Indonesia only need to apply for a VISA once when they want to go to Japan. When we arrive, we will get a temporary residence letter confirming that we are one of the workers in a company in Japan.

What are the obstacles encountered while working in Japan? One of the obstacles that Fritz feels is the language. There is a language barrier between the formal and non-formal languages ​​used in the work environment and the dialect differences in each region. Therefore, he took Japanese language training courses related to his fields of work, namely Engineering until a sufficient assessment by the company that would recruit him. Fritz also shared his tips for learning Japanese, by targeting 50 Japanese kanji per day. In addition, we also have to read Japanese newspapers often and look for the meaning of the kanji we find in the reading. In this case, perseverance and discipline are needed if we want to quickly master the things we learn.

How about the work culture in Japan? The work culture in Japan is certainly very different from Indonesia, the work ethic in Japan is disciplined in the work area. Fritz felt a culture shock a bit because none of the workers came late and also with the culture of overtime. Working hours in Japan are from 8:00 to 17:00, but not many workers work overtime until 07.00-21.00. The existence of a prolonged culture causes a high level of stress on workers. In addition, there are also advantages to working in Japan, namely that we can learn a culture of discipline, responsiveness, and a very high level of professionalism.

“Make your chance! Life is an opportunity. The person who goes the farthest is generally the one who wants and dares to do something.”


Written by Kurnia Wardhani