Mr. Jeff Sandford(USA, 30, SE/Manager)

  • English (United States)
  • 日本語
  • 한국어

Born and raised in America, Jeff is now working in an IT services company in Japan. Jeff is a product manager for in-house service developing and is responsible for engineering resource management, etc. (JIKOPY)

Name Mr. Jeff Sandford (30)
Nationality American
Company MINIMAL TECHNOLOGIES, INC.
Industry IT and Communication
Occupation category Engineering and Research
Location Tokyo
Japanese Skills Before Japan:JLPT N4
Current level:JLPT N1
Study abroad experience (Japan) None
Latest educational history University graduate
Work experience (before Japan) None


Why do you want to work in Japan?

Tell us about your interests and motives of coming to Japan.

My friend was studying abroad in Osaka. I came to visit him and I was blown away by Japan and had to come back. I’ve always had an interest in learning foreign languages, and Japanese is so different to English that it made me even more interested. My main motivations for moving to Japan was to experience living in a country outside my own and to learn Japanese.

When did you decide that you want to work in Japan?

When I was around 24 years old.

When did you start work in Japan?

At 25.

Why do you want to work in Japan?
  • Endless opportunities and challenges in my job.

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Tell us about your job search for work in Japan.

What was your method of job searching?
  • I was recommended by someone
What were your priorities when choosing a company?
  1. To be able to utilize both my native and Japanese language skills in the company
  2. A company where I can learn and further my career in the future.
  3. A company that uses cutting-edge technology or appealing products.
When attempting to get a job in Japan, what was your biggest challenge?
  • Studying for interviews, studying for business-level Japanese, etc.


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Tell us about your current job.

Tell us about your main role/responsibility.

My main role is to manage the product of our company and direct our engineering resources in a way that will create a more appealing product for our users. I also work with our engineers on a technical level to assist them in solving engineering issues. I will also work on expanding our business globally when the timing is right.

Tell us about what you consider important and concerns you other than your job.

My main concerns outside of my job are about personal growth and my future, both in my career and my personal life.

What is the appealing factor/attractive feature of your current employment?

Given my position, it is a very flexible job and I have a lot of control over how I work and what I specifically do at work. It also is great experience and a good launching point for my career in the future.


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Tell us about working in Japan.

Tell us why working in Japan appeals to you.

I like living in Japan. For now this is where I want to anchor my life and build my career. Understanding another culture and another language (especially a culture/language as different and successful as Japan’s) will be invaluable to me, both professionally and on an individual level.

Are there any other struggles you are facing aside from work in Japan? How did you manage to deal with it?

There are always communication issues. In English I can express the same idea in many different ways given the situation and the sentiment I want to convey. In Japanese I’m usually stuck with only a few ways to express an idea, and this is not always ideal as it usually lacks the correct nuances and can possibly offend someone or give someone the wrong idea entirely. This will hopefully become better as I study Japanese more.

Also, operating in a culture you didn’t grow up ends up in friction in ways that can be stressful and frustrating.

Tell us about your job aspirations (Career developments) in the future.

I would like to continue working as an entrepreneur, making my own choices as to where my career goes and always being flexible in my career path in order to find the place that makes me the most fulfilled. I think finding a career that leads to happiness and fulfillment is a surefire way to find success as well.


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Tell us what you do in your everyday life in Japan.

What is your type of accommodation?

I am currently renting my own accomodation.

How did you find an accommodation when you first came to Japan?

Information from Japanese real estate websites.

How do you spend the holidays?

I usually relax and see friends and also take care of errands I don’t have time for while working.

Are there any struggles that you are experiencing other than living in Japan? How are you dealing with this issue?

As many of my counter-parts in America, I have student loan payments every month. I have to carefully budget in order to make those payments.

Any advice for those who wish to work in Japan?

If you want to live and work in Japan, you have two options. Either you integrate yourself into society — learn the language, make Japanese friends, keep up with Japanese pop culture — or you live in a foreign bubble. Many foreigners have only English-speaking friends and only consume global culture (through the internet). I personally find this to be a waste of an opportunity. However, the hard truth is that living in Japan is not easy. Japanese culture is not the same as your home country’s culture and most foreigners go through a period of loneliness or even depression within the first year of moving here. Making some foreign friends and occasionally watching some tv shows from back home can be a good way to cope and have fun. But, for those who want to learn the culture and language you’ll need to make a concerted effort to plug in to the community around you. If you do, I think you’ll find it to be an incredibly rewarding experience, and you’ll go home with some unforgettable memories.