Getting a Part- time Job as an international student in Japan

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People who study abroad normally do part-time jobs in between their studies. They do it either to gain experience and additional pocket money, or sharpen their foreign language skills. In this article, Made Ayu Sayaka elaborates about part-time job mechanisms in Japan, while also narrating her personal experience of working part-time in Japan.

Part-time jobs or アルバイト (arubaito, commonly called “baito”) in Japanese, is a flexible way to earn pocket money during your stay in Japan. It is estimated that 75% of foreign students in Japan do some kind of part-time jobs, and 7 out of 10 Japanese university students are currently doing part-time work. Most of them work for 2~3 times per week, and around 4~5 hours per shift. So it is not uncommon at all for students to be doing part-time jobs. It is recommended to do part-time work to earn some extra money to help cover your living expenses. In this article, I will talk about the part-time jobs requirements in general, how to find part-time jobs, and my baito experience in Tokyo.

Salary

The salary depends on what kind of job you do, your position, and it also varies per region. In Tokyo for example, the minimum wage is 958 yen (around Rp 125,000) per hour, but in Okinawa it is 737 yen (around Rp 95,000) per hour. You can check the full list of minimum wage for each region in Japan here . That is the minimum wage, so you can not get paid below that amount. Usually for general jobs (waitress in a local restaurant etc) the salary would be just barely above the minimum wage line. In Tokyo for example, the most common salary for restaurant baito is 1000 yen/ hour. Other jobs, such as private English tutoring might pay you 2,500~3,000 yen per hour.

VISA and work restriction

If you are here on a student visa, the length of work you can do is limited to 28 hours per week, and up to 40 hours during the holidays. You do need to apply for work permission at the immigration office before you can start working in Japan. Personally, I think that 28 hours per week should be more than enough, as most people work 4 hours for 3 days a week, which adds up to around 12 hours per week. I would strongly advise working more than that as it may disrupt your studies.

General Rules

As a general rule, you have to come to work 5-10 minutes before your shift starts. Sometimes you may need to change to your uniform, so add the time to do that too. Japan is a very punctual country, so tardiness is frowned upon. So make sure you show up to work on time. Also, if you get sick or need to take the day off, be sure to tell your manager beforehand. Understand the rules of your workplace on what you should do, in case you are sick on the day of your shift, etc.

Required Japanese level

The Japanese level required for the job varies by positions. If your Japanese level is beginner, say–JLPT Level N5 or N4, you probably will want to avoid work that involves communitcating directly to customers. Generally, if you have N3 you should be fine with most part time jobs. Discuss this with your manager, and they will usually give you jobs that will suit your Japanese level. Or, if you are not so confident with your Japanese skills and want to use English, you can try working in a foreign cafe or work in a touristy area where your language skills will be of use. You could also consider being an English teacher/ private tutor.

How to Find a Part-time Job

Firstly, you should ask people around you– your friends, family who are working/ have done baito. Ask them about their baito place, and see if they enjoy working there– and if they are, you could consider it. Another way you can look for places is by searching from online listings and there are many websites that provide baito available positions. Here are some main ones:

http://townwork.net/

http://baito.mynavi.jp/ (in Japanese)

https://www.baitoru.com/ (in Japanese)

If you’re wondering if it’s hard to get accepted, then the answer is no. Because Japan is currently lacking workers, it is usually really easy to get baito almost at most places. Some places are so desperate for workers they’d just accept you without a second thought!

My Baito Experience in Tokyo

I’m currently working as a private English tutor and previously worked as a waitress at a restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo. For the English tutor, my pay is 2,000 yen, while my salary at the restaurant was 1,000 yen per hour. One thing I learned is that baito is tiring. Running around carrying food plates for 4~5 hours was exhausting and I usually would just go straight to bed after my shift because I was so tired. There were some valuable things I learned from my restaurant baito. I learned manners, and learned to use Keigo (Japanese respectful language) because I had to use it to customers . My Japanese also improved a little bit. In the end, I decided to quit my restaurant baito because it was just too tiring, and just continue doing my English tutoring one.

These are some tips I can give you when you’re considering a baito place:

  • Work during less crowded times

When the place is crowded, you get busier and have to work faster– which will make you more tired. That’s why, during my restaurant baito days I usually worked in the morning when there were less customers. Some of my friends say that when you’re busy, time passes faster so it’s better for them, but I personally think that if I can just do less work and receive the same amount of pay I would prefer working when the restaurant’s emptier.

  • Work at a less crowded place

My previous baito place is a popular restaurant and it is never empty. It is a huge restaurant in the centre of Shinjuku, so around noon and evening there would be a line outside the restaurant. It is a pretty luxurious place too, so the rules were strict and the service cannot be subpar. However, my pay was 1,000 yen, which is the same amount as if I would work in a local, small, say ramen shop near my house. If you don’t care that much about experience, I’d say work at smaller shops.

  • Consider the benefits they offer

Most place offer benefits, such as transportation fee, free food (in Japanese this is usually called まかない makanai), etc. Most places cover your transportation fee. My place paid a fixed transportation fee of 600 yen per day regardless of the actual fee. Going back and forth to the place from my house by train costed me around 340 yen, so I got some extra money.  Also, if you work in a restaurant you might be able to have meals during your shift for free. I could eat pasta and drinks for free during my shift, so it helped. Some place, such as bakery, will allow you to take the leftover bread. So you should definitely put these things into consideration when choosing a baito place.

  • Don’t work too much

This is probably the biggest lesson I learned during my baito days. I would calculate the money I’d want to earn, and then just put in as many shifts as possible, work as much hours possible. I juggled 2 jobs, school and other outside school activities. I burned out, and my grades suffered. For students in Japan, keep in mind that the main reason you’re here is to study. Baito is just a way to earn some extra lunch money– don’t let it consume most of your time.

Baito can give you valuable experience. Most people do it just for the money, but there are actually other things you can gain from doing baito, such as learning manners, improving Japanese skills, etc. I hope this article can give you a bit of an idea of part time jobs in Japan.

Photo obtained from Google.

 

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Sayaka Made Ayu
Ayu Sayaka is a second-year student at Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan. Born half-Japanese and half- Indonesian, she was raised in Bali, Indonesia, and moved to Tokyo upon graduating high school. Her activities include being a Resident Assistant at Waseda University's dorm, TEDxWasedaU, Indonesian Student's Association in Japan among others. You can find her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/madeayusayaka/ or Instagram at @sayaka.takemura