Foreign students work part time in Japan - Opportunity or challenge?
When we talk about international students in Japan, it may remind us about an image of hard working students overseas to reduce the financial burden on families. Some people think that Vietnamese students do part time job no matter in which countries they are. This perception is not wrong but it not completely true. In some countries, students doing part time job can be considered as a crime since they are doing a thing against to their sole purpose when they came to the country.
The Japanese government encourage foreign students to do part time jobs or “arubaito” アルバイト in Japanese, however, they still have some strict regulations on the total number of working hours. For example, international students are only allowed to work up to 28 hours a week to make sure they do not neglect their studies just because they want to earn more money. This article is actually based on my experience and the judgements can be subjective and not be true in all cases.
1. What do foreign students need to prepare in advance before applying for a part time job ?
Preparation is always the most important step before starting to do something. To me, you have to prepare two main things in advance in order to do a part time job in Japan: Work permit and Japanese conversation.
The first thing is work permit. If you are 18 years old and above, you are granted to request and get a work permit as your desired. The work permit is attached to your passport and residence card. If you have enough confidence and want to expedite this process, you can proceed it at the airport just right after you enter the country. You will receive enthusiastic support from the staffs at the airport to complete the form so do not worry! Nevertheless, you can choose to do it later when you're ready if you do not have any plan to work part time at the moment. In that case, you can go to the student council to ask for assistance and they will keep your passport up to two weeks to complete everything. Some international students are likely go to the city hall in their area to get a work permit.
The second thing is no related to any type of documents: your Japanese level. Some international students with very limited language ability still hope to get a part time job in Japan to earn their living. It is absolutely fine but with such a language barrier it will create an enormous obstacle for you when applying for a job. The Japanese people have great pride in their own nation so do not be so surprised if they cannot speak English well, even very basic English conversation. So if you are only to able to speak a basic Japanese or babble a few words, unfortunately you may fail to do this task. Not all employers want to hire people with excellent language ability but at least, they need their staffs to speak Japanese fluently. Personally, I think you had better learn basic Japanese conversation which is sufficient enough to communicate effectively with the Japanese. It is not that hard to make the Japanese people understand what you are trying to say to them. If the employers are impressed by your language skills in the interview, you will get hired by 90%. So, good luck!
2. Part time job - Gains and losses?
In this life there are always some rules to balance everything so there is nothing 100% good or 100% bad. When doing part time jobs in Japan, contrary to high wages we still have to encounter severe difficulties which seems so unsolvable sometimes.
First of all, let's talk about the benefits of a part time job. The first and obvious thing is the high monthly wages. In Japan, even the most low-paid job is still around 700 yen/hour, equivalent to 154,000 VND. In Vietnam, the most high-paid hourly wage is only about 30,000-40,000VNĐ/hour. If we make a basic comparison, 1 hour working in Japan equals up to 5 hours working in Vietnam. There are some places in Japan which can pay you up to 1000 yen/hour, equivalent to 220,000 VND. Those amount of money may overwhelm you at first sight and make you want to get that job immediately.
The second benefit is the valuable experience you gain from the job. When working in Japan, you will experience brand new things as how to make sushi or udon. Thanks to those experience, some people are also able to run their own restaurants after graduating from university. Culture and working attitude of Japanese people are admired by people all over the world so working a part time job in Japan will sharpen your skills and help you grow a lot. If you are hired as an official employee in the future, you are skilled enough to be a great staff. And if you find learning Japanese by textbooks only bored and uninteresting, taking a part time is a great and ideal solution for you. There are a lot of people who cannot speak Japanese well at first but after working for a period of time, they can speak Japanese as fluently as a local person. Don't you feel it so magical?
However, every coin has two sides. Once you start working in Japan, please keep in mind that it is inevitable that sometimes you have to deal with ridiculous problems which you never imagine it could happen to you. First of all, it is stress. Pressure of working in Japan is not a new thing anymore. In Japan, the people have high priorities on accuracy, punctuality and carefulness so they want to achieve the highest efficiency in everything they do. You will be shocked by the huge workload and operation if you jump to work immediately just right after you came to Japan. For those reasons, the part time employees have shoulder the great burden which make them feel stressful. Or else, international students may find it impossible to maintain the balance between study and work sometimes. And obviously it will result in sleep derivation, fatigue and stress. In Japanese, there is a very special form of grammar called honorific form. Honorific form is used when you want to show respect to a person and such a form is never easy. A few Japanese force you to use honorific form when you speak to them, or else you are fired no matter how good or diligent you are. It is a very knotty problem, isn't it?
In conclusion, it is essential to have a part time job. When you are living in another country, everything is so expensive. And if you only depend totally on the support from your family, you have to live frugally. In another point of view, you should be alert to keep yourself away from chasing money and forgetting the reason why you came to Japan. A part time job can be a two-edged sword pulling you to ridiculous problems. This is just a general article about part time jobs in Japan. In the next articles, I will give you more details as well as illustrative example about working part time in Japan. Hope my articles are useful for all who want to get a job in the near future. Good luck.
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