Thursday, March 29, 2007

Close to Desperation

I need help, and I'm open to ideas. I'm hoping there may be some lurking readers out there with connections, biding their time until the blogger presents a call.

My current visa expires June 9th, 2007. My last day of work is May 24th. I want to stay. Simple as that. Why?

- Back in Austin, I was merely surviving, not thriving. Eating the same meals, running the same paths, talking to the same (albeit few) people. In Japan, I am traveling, studying the Nihongo, writing more, learning more, staying up to date with current affairs, and meeting more people.

- Japan has been good to me, despite certain employment conditions.

- Other reasons

Now, before you go thinking, "It's almost April! You should have done something before now! Search for jobs, tap every connection," I should tell you: I have. I know all the best job search websites in Japan (see my link bar under Living in Japan), and I have been searching daily and applying for many positions. So why haven't I found a job yet? Well, it's not because I'm an inexperienced idiot (mostly not):

1. Number one, numero uno, and I cannot stress this enough: I DO NOT WANT TO TEACH ENGLISH for another year. My conflicts with my current employer nonwithstanding (I'll have to write about them after May 24th), the fact remains I'm sick of the stereotypical foreigner in Japan only teaching English. It feels like the majority of us. I want to see the other options, and have a different answer for people besides "ego no sensei des." No, I'm not doing this for public perception - although it would be a perk; I want to see the rest of the job market in Japan. But mainly, my qualms are with the eikaiwa; I have to find something else.

Sidebar: I am willing to edit technical English, and possibly do some English language consulting for a professional business; as long as it's away from the school system and the private language schools, I have no problem.

2. My Japanese is between JLP 4 and 3, which isn't very good. Many companies hiring foreigners expect at least JLP 2, and they have every right to; I'm studying, but it'll take time.

3. I need a visa sponsor. I have no intention of staying here illegally and later being deported. I can't apply for a part time position and work freelance the rest of the time. I need a full time job with a company willing to sponsor my work visa. Although... if someone has gone through the experience of self-sponsoring himself, please tell me about it.

4. Another big reason, if you haven't picked up on it yet: I'm picky. It's easy to find an English-teaching job in Japan without knowing any Japanese, but if I'm not willing to do that, bartend, work as a male hostess, sweep floors, or recruit for corporations, the options are limited.

Any thoughts? Send them my way. I am waiting to hear from a very promising job based in Kagoshima and Wakayama... send your hope in my direction.

Apparently some of my pictures from the Sake Festival and Miyajima have been posted on Made of Japan; I can't find them, but if anyone discovers where on the shoe I am (see link), please tell me.


James said...

Given your Japanese ability, there are very very few non-ELT jobs available for you in Japan. Have you considered switching to a student visa? Even though you've been to university in your home country, Japanese language cram schools will sponsor you for a "pre-college student" visa for intensive language study. The visa would last a year and you'd probably have to shell out a few thousand dollars in tuition, but by the time you finish the school you'd have the level 2 or 1 JLPT skills needed for a "real" job in Japan.

PrimeThinker said...

You can stick around as an English teacher for a few more months and get a 3-year visa extension. This will improve your value in the eyes of potential employers, enabling you to soon find a new career. There are more opportunities in Tokyo and if you're looking to get out of teaching it's really the place to be. There are nice jogging paths around the imperial palace and tama river areas. As a fellow Austinite, good luck!

ターナー said...

I had not considered that, James, but it sounds interesting... I'll do some more research.

ターナー said...

Good ideas - keep 'em coming!

Ken said...

I've self-sponsored. I had enough part-time gigs to make enough to prove that I could was no problem at all.

The other thing is, as distasteful as it may seem, get an eikaiwa job just to renew the visa. You can walk at any time. Once you get the new visa, start job hunting in earnest. That will remove the time pressure.

I also think primethinker is right on. There are tons more opportunities in Tokyo, even without the Japanese ability, if you have drive and skills and are looking for something. That said, it is better to have the language skills.

ターナー said...

What's involved in self-sponsorship?

Anonymous said...

Marry with a Japanese woman.

Dave said...

You said in your article that 90% of foreigners here in Japan are teachers? I'd be interested to know where you got your statistics. Here in Okinawa there are 50,000 military personnel and dependents. If you count those as the ONLY other foreigners in the whole of Japan, it would still mean that there are 450,000 foreign teachers in Japan, and that is a minimum. Is that correct?

It might very well be, and if so I will have learnt something new and very surprising.

ターナー said...

There's no need for sarcasm. That statistic was just an exaggeration as I was on kind of a rant, but let me address your comment:

I don't really count military personnel as those living in Japan, since they reside in areas that are essentially like America; the Marine Corps base in Iwakuni is just like small town America west of Hiroshima. I think legally, like embassies, those areas are US soil (can someone check that out?)

Second, I'm not including foreigners from non-English-speaking countries like China and Korea. Let's not even go into the nationalities of people Japan considers foreigners, but were in fact born in Japan.

So if you consider foreigners from Britain, Australia, the US, and all those English-speakers, I believe a staggering number of them are over here as language teachers.

Again, don't take it so literally. Just a rant about how I'm always hearing:

"Ego no sensei des ka?"
"Hai, ego no sensei des."

Ken said...

I guess I never caught that perception of 'foreigners' in Japan being English teachers. Sure, there are lots in Tokyo, but it's pretty heavily swung towards finance, banking, marketing, translators, etc...I think it's hard to say most are teachers.

ターナー said...

Hmm... I guess that's just been my perception, not the fact.