Interview with Fridrik, a father and engineer from Sweden
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I’m from Sweden and came to Japan in 2012. After studying for 4 years in Japan, I started working at a media company, and now I am working as an engineer.
What did you do before you came to Japan?
I was working as an insurance salesperson and customer support in Sweden for 8 years.
Why did you come to Japan?
I was working as a salesperson in Sweden for 8 years, but I started growing bored. Out of curiosity, I went to Japan with two friends and we went to a Japanese language school together.
My friends felt that there was a gap in the work culture in Japan, so they moved back to Sweden after graduation, but I decided to stay in Japan because I really enjoyed my life in Tokyo and wanted to live in Japan permanently.
After that I graduated from a vocational school and started working in Japan, for a four-employee media company called Tomorrow.
Why did you choose to work as an engineer?
Honestly, at first I didn’t expect to be an engineer at all.
My company’s website hadn’t been managed by anyone for a long time, and I knew that if we didn’t make the website better, our sales would not improve.
It would have cost a lot of money to outsource the work, so I decided to remake our website myself while working as a salesperson
I studied web development on my own through online materials and books. It was a very busy time, but I found working as an engineer to be fun!
Did you experience any culture shock?
In Sweden, there is normally no overtime, and the standard full time employee has five weeks of vacation. So it’s very different compared to Japanese working culture.
I was also surprised to find out that there is still a lot of paperwork in Japan, despite the image of being such a high-tech nation.
How is your typical day?
I start work at９:00 a.m. After checking my email and messages, I have a zoom meeting at 10:00 a.m. for the English learning app “booco” to get feedback from the business team and have a discussion about future releases and patches.
After that, I’m basically in front of the computer working all day.
Recently, two foreign engineers, working remotely, have started working for us, so I also provide support such as interpretation.
I have a two-year-old child, and I am able to balance work and childcare since I can leave work at 6:00 p.m., just as she comes home from daycare.
What are the challenges of working in Japan?
It takes me a longer time to understand the information in Japanese documents and emails, compared to my Japanese co-workers, and it can sometimes make me feel a bit left out since I might not always be able to keep up with everything that’s going on at work.
What do you like about your current company?
Everyone is friendly, and I like the atmosphere! That is what I like the most about ALC. Also, I can work from home at my own pace, I don’t have to work overtime very often, and my bosses try to coordinate things so that no engineer has too much workload at any given time.
Remote work is really a great benefit.
I live an hour and a half away from the office by train, but I can work from home and it’s nice to be able to relax and spend time with my family instead of squeezing myself into overpacked trains.