Eyes, JAPAN Blog > Eyes, JAPAN employee interview【Vol. 6】Yearning for Japan. From Germany on an internship.

Eyes, JAPAN employee interview【Vol. 6】Yearning for Japan. From Germany on an internship.

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As part of our special series 6th edition “Eyes, JAPAN employee interview” We would love to interview Sascha Holesch and put him under the spotlight.

Originally from Germany. Sascha is a software engineer who first came to Japan in 2009 as an intern. All together he has lived in Japan for seven years on and off.

As part of his job, Sascha develops software using Swift, Python and Objective-C etc and often does code review with part-time employees.

Without further ado, we wanted to ask Sascha about why he started work in Japan and why he likes working at home?


Yearning for Japan

– Why did you decide to work in Japan? And why did you know Eyes, JAPAN?

(Sascha) The wish to life and work in Japan developed over time starting with the first video games I played in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The games mostly coming from Japan carried lots of cultural references totally unknown to me as a child. As a generally curious person this lead to research in libraries resulting in finding books, but a bit later also manga and anime giving more exposure to Japan and its culture. This interest grew naturally, but it seemed like a unrealistic dream until I found scholarships and pathways which could open the possibility to do an internship there. Besides applying at the obvious big companies I came across a report from a former intern at Eyes, JAPAN writing about the company and what she was doing here. EJ being located not in Tokyo but quite country side, and the variety of projects described in the report were unique enough to make me try to apply for an internship here.

– What do you like about Japan?

(Sascha) Too many things to list them up completely. I love the country itself with its beautiful landscapes and cultural treasures. But also the general safety due to the low crime rate and the overall friendly and helpful people. As somebody who works in IT of course the incredibly fast and stable internet connection at home and on mobile.

– Have you had any experience with feeling culture shock during working in Japan?

(Sascha) I think everybody spending a significant amount of time in a foreign environment will experience culture shock in one way or another. For me it was more like various smaller “shocks” in unexpected situations, I think. Especially realisations when something taken for granted actually turning out quite different. But I can’t remember anything especially standing out.

– If you have any advice to people from different countries who want to work in Japan, please tell me.

(Sascha) I can’t give direct advice since everyone’s circumstances and environments are different. Generally it is important to follow the direction the heart tells one to go. Overthinking things leads to decisions that might look good on paper but leave oneself with regret.
Try to study at least some basic Japanese to be able to get around without major problems. All people I have met throughout the years were very helpful whenever I had to ask for help. Knowing about some of the cultural backgrounds and how society works is good as well.

Finding the balance between private life and working at home

– Please tell me the good and bad points about working at home.

(Sascha) Firstly, working at home is a dream many have but it requires a lot of preparation and determination. It is great to be able to take care of everyday stuff in little breaks and during lunch time. Some things would normally be pushed to the late evenings or even further, especially when small children are part of the family. Especially during rainy season in summer or heavy snow in winter being able to work from home makes for a far more relaxed working day. However, when meetings are necessary to discuss plans for a project or problems nothing beats being able talking face to face. For small questions chats and video conferences are fine, but I find longer discussions or meetings with a bigger impact are more efficient when done in person.

– Is there something that you pay attention when you work at home?

(Sascha) The downside of working from home is that a dedicated working space is necessary at home to somewhat isolate oneself from all the potential distractions the private environment comes with. Without enough discipline and the special separation it is dangerously easy to succumb to procrastination. I am making a rough schedule at what times I allow myself to “enter” the private space to get a coffee or snack or to do some other quick tasks. This can be like “at 2 pm I can get a cup of coffee” or “after finishing task X I’ll quickly do Y”, depending on the type of work I am currently doing.

– What do you do to keep Work-Life Balance?

(Sascha) The major point is to separate those two areas strictly. There are places and times for both. Not having one bleed into the other helps to fully be able to focus. The restriction on time also gives a good deadline for each day. Being pushed to finish something by the end of a day instead of easily saying “Well, I’ll just work a little bit longer tonight” helps me to use my time more efficiently than I would otherwise.

Discussing Eyes, JAPAN and his plans for the futer

– What kind of person do you think matches EJ?

(Sascha) Curiosity and confidence are very important traits. We often work on projects that can not be replicated easily “off the shelf”, but need unique solutions for specific problems. Therefore a love for learning new things and sharing with others is important as well.

– What do you think about student?

(Sascha) Students bring sort of a fresh wind into the company. They are not burdened with previous work and often have hobbies and interests different from full-time employees. As humans get older they tend to fall into certain schemes and patterns. Students can break those up with new ideas, approaches and different points of view. This helps the company to stay young even more than 20 years in.

– How do you want to work in the future?

(Sascha) I hope to be able to work with an even more diverse range of people with different backgrounds. Discussing problems and finding solutions is much more fruitful with lots of different points of view. It also helps sparking new ideas and we can learn from each other.

-Thank you!

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