Aoi is originally from Tokyo, Japan. But she had her first job as an Engineer in the USA in a Japanese company. Now she has been working at AutoScout24 in Munich for almost two years. Time to talk to her about the different working cultures and what makes working at AutoScout24 in Germany so special for her.
Which tasks and projects do you have as a Junior Software Engineer at AutoScout24?
Aoi: I do full-stack web development in a team that is responsible for the core experience of the website. My team is responsible for the frontend and backend of the vehicle search funnel, which includes the search page, results page, and listing detail page. Often, we do A/B testing to try out new features and collaborate with colleagues to analyse the results. As a Junior Software Engineer, learning is a very important part of work as well. While working on tasks and projects with the team, I find time to take online courses and read books to gain more technical knowledge which help with my daily work.
Why did you choose Germany and in particular AutoScout24 as your new workplace? What makes working at AutoScout24 special for you?
Aoi: After living in the US for about 6 years, I wanted a change in my life. And Germany seemed a perfect destination for the new adventure; I had never been there and knew nobody, there was a new language to learn, and my fiancé and I love skiing… needless to say why we picked Munich!
As my previous software engineering job was in machinery control, I learned to develop user-facing software myself by taking an after-work course. AutoScout24 gave me an opportunity to challenge myself in a different field and is continuing to help me grow my career in the best working environment among smart, motivated, and very friendly colleagues.
Are there differences between working in Japan, the USA and Germany? If so, what are they and how do you deal with them?
Aoi: To be more precise, I have never worked in Japan, but I worked in a Japanese company in the US which had a Japanese working culture. I hate to over-generalise things but the main difference I found in the different companies I worked at is accessibility of decision making for the company/individuals.
In the Japanese company I worked at, the product decisions/roadmaps were made somewhere normal employees were not aware of. So, one day our boss would say now we need to finish this by this deadline, and we just needed to do it no matter how long it would take (including outside working hours). At AutoScout24, we engineers talk closely with product managers to decide achievable schedules or even give advice on product decisions sometimes. Also, for company level decisions, we get to raise questions and give feedback here in All Hands meetings. I feel more engaged as a member of the company because of this approach.
There are always some challenges when moving to another country for a job. What are they? Do you have any tips?
The challenges I encountered when getting a job in different countries/cultures are: to stay as you are regardless of the language/culture difference, and to find a good cycle of your daily life outside of work.
When you need to speak a new language in a new environment, it is difficult to be yourself. You cannot communicate your opinions/feelings well enough, and you may unintentionally act in a strange way or be rude to others. When you are in this situation, try to be polite as possible with wording and how you behave. And keep learning more about the social norms of the new culture by talking to people. I think you need to know that being polite does not mean being unconfident or moderate.
When you get a new job in a new country, you will be very busy. You need to learn new things, meet new people, and plus, you need to get over with all the bureaucratic procedures around moving/immigrating. I found it very important to find your daily routine and also make your house very comfortable. Find your favourite restaurant, café, or grocery store for cooking etc. When I started to enjoy my life outside of work, I felt I could focus on work more.
What do you like best about living in Munich?
I love how Munich is green and pedestrian/biker friendly. I can spend time walking the whole day and going into small shops, getting some ice cream and tea, and sitting by the river watching fluffy dogs passing by.