Since young, I’ve had an excellent impression of Japan from what I’ve read/seen online and also what I’ve experienced personally during my past few visits. From the food (it’s not always about sushi and sashimi), its unique yet fascinating culture, the sceneries (shout out to Mt. Fuji during clear skies!), a public transport system so efficient and reliable that you hardly find it elsewhere in the world, to the high-tech Japanese toilets/bidets and I’m sure you’ll be shocked by how effective and easy it gets the job done if you haven’t tried it- no seriously.
Anyway, I started having the thought of living in Japan as I figured it must be super awesome[!], but in reality, coming to Japan for work had been an unrealistic thought of mine. The first few things that come to mind for many people would be:
Yes, I am qualified for the the skills but I don’t speak the language…
Well, I’ve got some good news for you! If you’re:
- a software engineer student/new graduate
- intending to work in Tokyo, Japan (Shibuya)
- always ready to be challenged,
Hi readers! I’m Jia Jun, a final year Malaysian student currently pursuing a Computer Science degree at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.
Regarding the title, even though it may sound a bit exaggerated, and I believe that this isn’t your first time seeing such a description of the internship program on this blog. I can reassure you that the culture shocks we interns have experienced at HENNGE are all real [in a really good way]. Allow me to explain.
Culture Shock #1: HENNGE is not your typical Japanese workplace
When people think of working in Japan, they tend to think of it stereotypically, even as a software engineer. Long hours of work, seniority system, strict protocol, stressful environment, etc.… Over here at HENNGE; however, it’s more of breaking these stereotypes. How come?
English has been HENNGE’s official language since 2016.
You heard it right! You don’t need any Japanese proficiency to work here! Discussions, documentations are all in English. *At least for software engineers
There is no dress code.
Pajamas? Sure. Hoodie? That’s cool.
This isn’t fake news. Feel free to wear whatever you want.
The office features an open, yet friendly office layout.
Nope. You won’t have an assigned desk. You’re allowed to work quite literally anywhere, any level in the office, as long as you find your sweet spot to work. Each seat is equally spaced, hence making it a friendlier environment while ensuring everyone gets to work comfortably.
Seniority system is hardly a thing.
Surprising right? This is mainly a good thing. Every employee in the office treats each other equally, meaning more communication between employees. Everyone was approachable, and even I got treated the same as any other full-timer. On top of that, HENNGE also organizes heaps of fun social activities to bring people closer, which brings me to my next point…
Culture Shock #2: Social activities: the HENNGE way
HENNGE improves social life at work the HENNGE way.
Are you a board game lover?
If so, you’re in luck! Board Game Night happens every Wednesday after work, and dinner is provided :)
Maybe you wanna Switch things up?
Then the Nintendo Switch Night may be your cup of tea!
Want something on a larger scale?
Introducing Communication Lunch! Everyone is encouraged to participate as lunch is catered, promoting communication between employees regardless of divisions! You also get the chance to have a language exchange session with your colleagues, too, if you want to brush up your Japanese!
Want lunches but on a smaller scale?
As interns, you get free GIP lunches (Global Internship Program in short)! Each time, you will be paired up with different people, and they could be from any department. The goal is to get to know each other better and have good food around cool places in Shibuya! You’re also allowed to suggest any restaurant/cuisine you want, how cool is that!
Cultural events? HENNGE celebrates them.
Luckily, during my internship, I got to attend one, and it was the Setsubun festival on the 3rd of February! I was told that this is typically celebrated at home, but the company had decided to do it together. The way of celebrating it was so funny, it’s unforgettable.
Like the idea of TED talks and feel like sharing technical knowledge (or anything) to your colleages? Then MTS (Monthly Technical Session) is the perfect opportunity for you!
Employees are free to share anything, but the content doesn’t have to be technical-related even though there’s the word “technical” in its name. During my stay, I had the opportunity to join MTS and listen to my colleagues’ inspiring talks and also the chance to share my hackathon projects and ideas on stage with everyone!
Then there’s Beer Bash after MTS where everyone gathers for 🍣🥟🍤🍘 and 🍺🍷🍵🍾!
Culture Shock #3: A company that genuinely cares about its employees
Unfortunately, during my time of internship, the coronavirus situation was escalating. However, HENNGE had gone all the way to protect its employees, encouraging us to work remotely and not to travel to the office unless necessary.
In the last couple of weeks, I ended up doing partial remote work and only commuted to the office during non-peak hours to avoid crowds and reduce unneeded risks.
Culture Shock #4: HENNGE’s investment in hiring global talents through the Global Internship Program
Frankly speaking, I was grateful to be chosen as one of the GIP participants (“Thanks HENNGE once again!”). Why? Perks.
By now, you should already have heard about the benefits of being a GIP intern (and that’s why you’re reading this medium story, right?). For those of you who are out of the loop, allow let me elaborate:
- They fly you from wherever you are to Tokyo, Japan, and then send you back to where you came from, free of charge. Visa support is also provided if needed.
- Health insurance is provided at no cost during the internship to give each other peace of mind.
- They also provide a mobile phone with an active mobile plan and a laptop for getting work done!
- Free GIP lunches and all the fun stuff mentioned above :D
- Best of all, a subsidy is provided to cover the cost of living.
- Approved by me.
About the work stuff:
I can confidently say that I’ve developed a lot of technical skills that were never taught at my university, at least. I’ve been lucky enough to rotate through a couple of full-stack developments and also some DevOps training. All these were made possible thanks to my helpful mentors (you know who you’re if you’re reading this 🙏).
I was introduced to some of the technologies that I’ve never encountered and was told that the final project after the training is always different, so your mileage may vary. Here are some of the highlights:
- Used Redis NoSQL database in one of my projects
- Deploy and manage cloud infrastructure with Terraform
- Wrapping cloud components in AWS VPC for isolation
- Trying out HTTP API on AWS Gateway API with Golang
Long story short, I’ve enjoyed my time over at HENNGE (and also Japan!) and big thanks to HENNGE for making it possible! I highly recommend it to those of you who are still hesitating, so do apply now, and good luck!
Jia Jun Yong is a Malaysian student studying Computer Science at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Jia Jun was one of the HENNGE Global Interns for January 20-February 28th, 2020. Apply now by cracking the IT challenge here.