Thursday, 7 August 2014

Well Laid Plans II - NOT Going Moving to Tokyo


What’s happened?

As you may or may not know I have been working as a trainee project manager for an American company based in Detroit who make hardware and software for systems diagnostics tools for vehicles (basically machines that connect a computer to the car which scans it work out if there are any problems and what they are). I took the job under the pretence that I would be their representative in Tokyo to work directly with their customers Isuzu, and was told when I was first interviewed that this would be as soon as September 2013.

Well, as you may have noticed this didn’t happen. What DID happen was: 
  • I went to Japan in September 2013 to meet the Japanese customers and see what their quarterly meetings were like (8 hour days for 3-5 days in technical Japanese). I then did unpaid training for a month in November (they paid for flights, food, living etc), and at this point the move to Tokyo was pushed back to March 2014. 
  • I had asked before I left in December (after the second quarterly meeting with Isuzu), if they could give me enough notice if they wanted me to train in Detroit for a few more months so I could get a training work visa (so I could get paid), but boss decided I could just do the training at home in the UK. - While I was in the UK I was working from home and began translating daily emails and just researching what the company did and follow the progress of the projects. 
  • This went on until March when another quarterly meeting with Isuzu happened in Tokyo (they alternate between Tokyo and Detroit). At this point the move to Tokyo had been pushed back to July 2014 (I predicted August because of previous delays), so I put together a concrete process plan of what we needed when to complete the 3 month process to register the company, get an office, get my visa and get my accommodation. 
  • When I went to Tokyo in March for the Isuzu meeting I took some extra time to meet Japanese companies that would help with the whole process and to work out more concrete costs. I also took the opportunity to swing around to Portland to see Wes. Work then took that chance to have me go to the office a few times for more training and then another quarterly meeting the last week (June).

At this point I was getting pretty anxious because the registration process should have begun by then and my schedule had been pushed back to September 2014. And despite me emailing work for confirmation on what was happening (among other things like giving me more project related work) I got no response. I was determined to find out what was happening this last week (which didn’t help the stress that had built up over the last few months). Basically my boss said that as long as the tax for setting up an office wasn’t too expensive (ie needing to pay tax in the US and Japan) then we would go ahead. BUT he didn’t think I was ready yet and needed more training. 1-2 months worth. In Detorit. Which I would need a training work visa for (note: I’d asked for this in December). This would mean 1 month to get visa, 2 months training, and 3 months registration = AT LEAST ANOTHER 6 MONTHS DELAYED.

TL;DR – Work kept pushing my move to Japan back more and more and more, and now say there will be (at least) another 6 month delay. This mixed with lack of communication (never replying to emails), and lack of security (still no job contract despite asking for one since the beginning), I’ve decided to give up Japan and find something else. I discussed it with Wes and he agrees and supports me and is amazing in all kinds of ways. The point of getting jobs in Japan was so we could be together but that just isn’t happening with this job.

What now?

One plan B I’d been playing around with for the last 4 months has been a Masters in Japanese Studies at SOAS University in London. The MA will be in Japanese Studies with a major in Management in Japan and a minor in advanced Japanese language and translating. So I’ve spoken with Wes and we’ve decided that I will go to London to study while he stays in the US and works. He’s going to find a better job that the hotel, probably admin work, and then use that money and experience to get a job or do an internship or an MA in London at the beginning of next year (we're still working out the details for this too so please don't prod him about it). I’m still working out how I’ll fund my own living because although this job has provided me the funds for the MA, it hasn’t covered living in London.

I take this opportunity to do freelance translation work while studying and try to save up some more money and get more experience (or if it’s unpaid translating, just experience). This will also give me more time for studying for the JLPT N1 and for working on J-Talk Online (which I’ve been neglecting the last few weeks).

I talked to work and my boss told me to go for the MA which was pretty understanding of them. He did say that he still wanted to put me in Japan which means this gives them another year to sort themselves out and to convince Isuzu that they need to put someone in Japan. (He wants to save money by not needing to open an office but transfer someone directly into the customer's office to work). He was saying he might be able to have me work part-time while studying but this isn't going to happen now and I finish work tomorrow.

How do I feel?

Well despite the stress caused by work I’m actually sad to have been put in this position and feel forced to leave. The people at the company and the team at Isuzu have been incredibly kind and accommodating, and I feel like I’ve learnt a lot from them all. The boss is a really nice guy too, he’s just not very well organised and isn’t concerned with details or things he doesn’t think are important. I'm a little frustrated because I wanted to have started a career and be in Japan with Wesley by now, but that's been put on hold for longer because of all this. But I’m glad I had the opportunity to have a job where I had a lot of responsibility, independence and could use my Japanese and travel to Japan. It’s just a shame I can’t make a career out of it.

I’m also relieved at the same time, because I now have a plan again! I’m the kind of person who needs things organised months and months in advance (hence why I’ve have a lot of project/activities organisational jobs) and the lack of knowing what was happening made me pretty stressed at points. I’m also really excited to get back into education and work on my Japanese again (not looking forward to exams though). It will also be nice to be in the same country as my friends for once, and to be there for a long time rather than running off somewhere every other week. I really needed some stability this last half year, so I’m glad I’m going to get some.

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