Eyes, JAPAN Blog > Eyes, JAPAN employee interview【Vol. 10】Russinan IT Engineer Woking and Raising Children in Japan.

Eyes, JAPAN employee interview【Vol. 10】Russinan IT Engineer Woking and Raising Children in Japan.

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The special series to put a spotlight on our staff, “Eyes, JAPAN employee interview” has reached the 10 mark! Our 10th interviewee is Irina Zgonnikova from Russia.

She has been working as full-time staff 4 days a week since August 2018.
Now she is engaged in AI project and she works hard with new technologies every day.

We wanted to ask Irina about why she started to work in Japan and what does she think about working 4 days a week.


She came from Russia to Japan, and work in Japan.

– Could you tell me a brief story of coming/moving to Aizu?

(Irina) My family first came to Japan 7 years ago for my husband’s PhD at the University of Aizu. We never thought about moving somewhere that far before, but one day the offer to study in Japan came across. We’ve heard a lot about Japan, yet our knowledge mostly covered cultural background, not the real life there. We didn’t speak Japanese language either, but that time we were risky enough to give it a try.

It wasn’t easy at first. We soon discovered we can’t really communicate with people around, shopping turned to be a challenging experience, and Japanese winter appeared surprisingly cold without central heating we had back in Russia. But after a while we got used to everything around and began to fully enjoy our stay in Aizu.

– What kind of job experiences did you have before joining Eyes, JAPAN?

(Irina) Back in Russia I worked in a software development company in St. Petersburg. I started as an intern student in ERP systems department, where I mostly worked on accounting software. I joined the company without previous experience in the area, so at the very beginning working there was quite challenging. Luckily, I had very supportive co-workers, who generously shared their experience and cheered up in times of struggle. After a year I left the company to continue my study and entered a master’s program in IT at Saint-Petersburg State University.

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

(Irina) I was surprised when I first seen one of my co-workers sleeping at the desk in the middle of working day. In typical Russian company no boss would appreciate that, but in Japan having a short nap within working hours is very common* (and comes in very handy as I found myself).

[* Editor’s Note] Short sleep (Siesta) is one of our company’s welfare. We allow our staff to have siesta (about 15 min) to maintain one’s concentration. Actually, it is very rare to have such kind of welfare in Japanese company as well.

– Please tell me what do you think are the pros/cons of working at Japanese company. Could you tell me some examples/stories for that?

(Irina) The huge benefit to start with, is living in a unique country famous worldwide for its distinguished culture, gorgeous natural scenery, delicious healthy food, alongside with outstanding safety level. High quality healthcare and education make a great addition to the above.

Talking about downsides, Japan’s geographical location and high cost of travelling abroad are the major ones for me. Living in Japan makes it difficult to see relatives and catch up with friends from Russia, or say have a trip to Europe on holidays as we used to do when lived closer.

Work 4 days a week

– What is your role at Eyes, JAPAN and what kind of projects you have been working on (and had worked on)?

(Irina) I’m working at Eyes, JAPAN as an AI engineer since August 2018. Over less than 6 month I’ve participated in several projects, and none of them were alike.
For instance, right now I’m developing an iOS application, which is totally new for me. Before I had a chance to try myself in machine learning, web development, and performance testing.
And that’s a great thing about working in Eyes, JAPAN. If one is curious and opened to learning, there’s always an opportunity for that.

– You are working as the full-time staff and working 4 days a week for child-raising. Isn’t it difficult to keep a good balance between work and family?

(Irina) Yes, it’s not easy. I’m trying to spend with my family as much time as possible, but obviously that’s not much left after the working day is over.
I’m very lucky to have an extra day-off once a week, and that helps a lot. When I’m off kids can come home earlier, so we spend more time together. I can also take them to a doctor or stay home when someone gets sick without having extra work on weekends.

Eyes, JAPAN have new challenging projects.

– Do you have any plans for your next challenges? What kind of projects do you want to do in the future?

(Irina) I’m always opened to professional challenges, and I know there won’t be a lack of them in Eyes, JAPAN. There’s an amazing variety of projects running in the company, of different scales and involving various areas of expertise.

I’d like to gain more experience in AI and robotics, so I’m looking forward to join one of the AI projects started recently. We also have quite a challenging idea to develop AI looking for unusual marriages between Japanese sake and international cuisine dishes. I’d say there’ll be plenty of challenges coming by every day.

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

(Irina) For those who’d like to work in Japan, I would recommend to learn Japanese language in advance, that can make all the difference. Even if you’re going to work in a company where all the employees perfectly speak English, language skills can really simplify your life outside the office.

– Thank you!

If you are interested in Eyes, JAPAN and would like to hear other stories, please do not hesitate to contact us at the following contact form.
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Everyone welcome.

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