Job Searching in Japan: Part 4

Check out the previous entries before diving into this one:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Writing this story was never supposed to take this long… I wrote most of it on the plane on the way from Tokyo to Berlin with the best of intentions to post it shortly thereafter. As is often the case, I got busy and now it is January of the following year and I am finally posting again after a long hiatus. Please forgive my delay — I am going to just post it all today to make sure that this story is finally finished in blog form before I get distracted again. Without further ado:

I was eager to start applying to companies in Berlin, but I knew that my trip was still two months away. I wanted to try to plan my applications to comfortably get me to through at least the HR / first interview stage to set me up for a packed month of in-person interviews in Berlin. I was soon connected with someone working for Fyber, an adtech company that seemed pretty interesting that also happened to have a few open positions in the product management team. My new contact offered to send in my resume, and without wanting to explain why it might be better to wait to apply in another month, I said sure and forwarded my resume along. A few days later I heard from their HR and had my first interview in Berlin over Skype! I was 1-for-1 on my interviews from applications, so I had some sense that maybe I had made the right choice to go after a position in Berlin after all.

I was ecstatic at my progress but was soon in for a surprise. A few weeks later I started trying to apply for more positions, some that I got a referral for but mostly ones where I was going in cold without an introduction. My success rate took a big hit with numerous rejections, even from companies that very senior people referred me into, and I started to doubt the whole situation anew. Was I crazy to be dropping a very comfortable position in the heart of Tokyo for a chance to go to Berlin, a city that I was discovering other talented people loved as much as me? Though the future was far from certain, I knew that I should at least give it a proper try and stick with the plan. All I needed was one offer — everyone else can turn you down, no problem, as long as you get at least one good offer in hand, right? Besides, what was the worst that could happen? For me, the worst outcome would probably be to move back to the US as I would like to stay abroad for the foreseeable future, but even that is not such a terrible option in the big scheme of things. It was time to stay positive and keep to the plan!

Slowly but surely, amidst many more rejections, some first round interview requests were coming back from companies in Berlin. I was also continuing in my discussions with Fyber and had the chance to speak to several product management team members over Skype. As the date of my arrival in Berlin approached, my calendar was starting to fill up as more and more companies started inviting me to their offices. It was great to see that each company was doing its best to get the earliest time-slot available in my schedule. It was about that time that I got another call from HR at Fyber….

I spoke with my contact in HR at Fyber, and much to my joy, heard that I would be extended an offer! After so many rejections over a ten-month period in Japan, that was truly music to my ears. I was overjoyed with the opportunity but was immediately faced with the decision of keeping to my plan of going to Europe for 6 weeks and interviewing with the other companies that were showing interest in me, or to just make my trip into a one-way permanent move to Berlin. After thinking it through, I decided that the offer was attractive enough in terms of responsibility, salary and adventure that it was worth turning down the other leads, so after a short negotiation period I signed on the dotted line! I had managed to find a position in Berlin even before stepping foot on the plane — everything was finally coming together!

After a few weeks of frenzied goodbye parties, selling furniture, shipping boxes, government office trips and a trip to the top of Mt. Fuji, I left Japan on August 19, 2016 for Tegel airport in Berlin. I arrived in Berlin on the 20th and started a new chapter in my life. My first few weeks I spent enjoying the last lazy days of summer and began a short intensive German course. As originally planned, I took two weeks to travel around Budapest, Oktoberfest and Prague with some high school friends, and then I started at Fyber on October 4. I have spent the last 3 months getting on-boarded into the company, industry and product while making connections across the organization. I am currently leading a team that is focused on improving our ad delivery for our rewarded video ad format and have already learned tons from the experience. I look forward to what the coming months hold for me in Berlin!


Originally published at www.davidemcneill.com on January 11, 2017.