How to find a Job, Internship, or “Baito” in Tokyo (Japan)

A month after I started my study abroad in Japan, I hit a (figurative) wall. I was broke, worried about the future, and had far too much free time on my hands. I decided to find a job / internships. This proved to be harder than I thought. I had no idea how to find a job in Tokyo. I also had no idea how to find an internship in Tokyo. One month and several rejection letters later, I was still an unemployed college student. It was pretty humiliating.

Then I realized I wanted an internship, but still hadn’t figure out why I wanted to be an intern in Tokyo. So I was running around like a chick with its’ head cut off, blindly applying to every opening I could find.

First of all, you need to figure out why you want the Internship or Job in Tokyo. Is it for:

  • Money?
  • Job experience?
  • Something to do?

I wasn’t interested in the money; I had a scholarship. Instead, I wanted job experience and something fun to do – a sense of purpose. Most study abroad students who are working at legitimate Japanese companies as an intern had similar interests.

If you are interested in money: Don’t do a traditional internship, instead do a “baito.” 

An アルバイト or “baito” is a Japanese part-time job. You will have a considerably higher success rate (at least money-wise) with a “baito,” because most Japanese internships are un-paid in Tokyo.

I recommend teaching English, if possible. Most “baitos” require a student work permit, which can take several months to process (depending on how helpful the university in Japan you are studying abroad at is). Teaching English part-time at a cafe or company rarely requires a visa; lessons are paid in cash.

Working at one of these will (probably) pay more than an internship in Tokyo would

Working at one of these will (probably) pay more than an internship in Tokyo would

If you are interested in job experience or something to do: Try to get a traditional, Japanese Internship. There are several ways to find an internship. These are the ones I have tried (or had friends try).

1. Through friends or other students.

  • Students are the best because they are most like you. The companies that hired them are more likely to hire a similar person (same university, same age). This is how I found my internship.
  • Make sure to not only ask your local friends (in my case, Japanese students studying at International Christian University), but also foreign friends. Your foreign friends might have a collection of unique resources

2. Through teachers

  • Teachers, if you are close with them, can offer some great resources. One of my teachers who specialized in human trafficking and cracking down on child pornography in Tokyo helped introduce me to several NGOs to possibly intern at. In the end, none of the accepted me (didn’t speak enough Japanese, needed to give a 2-year commitment before they would hire me), but I know without her suggestion, I never would have found the NGO in the first place. And, by “throwing” in her name in the first paragraph, I was possibly given higher preference and allowed to apply.

3. Through members of your community

  • If you belong to a church, that is a great place to network. If you volunteer, are in a club, participate in weekly cultural exchanges, or even just spend the day with the old people at the local garden, don’t be afraid to ask if they know available jobs. Asking (almost) strangers is awkward, but you won’t ever see them again. And who knows, they might just know about a job for you.

4. Send out cold-call emails to companies 

  • `Hands down, this is the hardest one to do. It is also the most effective, in my opinion.
  • The friend who did this looked online for companies that had previously given foreigners an internship. She has a specific type of company she wanted to work for, so it was pretty simple. Google can be a great resource when job hunting. Once you have an email or contact information, even if they don’t have an internship or job listed as availible, just send out an introductionary email with your resume attatched. Try to send out a lot of these – it will pay off.

5. Look online

  • It can be as simple as typing in “Internships for students in Tokyo” into the Google Search Engine. Generally speaking – ignore the first three pages of Google. Anything after page 5 probably only gets a fraction of the traffic of anything on the first or second page.
  • Be specific. If you want a writing based, programming, or graphic design related internship, don’t be afraid to ask.
  • I’ve heard to three companies (left in the comment section) that can help find part-time jobs and internships for foreigners in Japan. They are boobooSKI, Japan Internships, and SAN Consulting. Check them out!

6. Look at postings on college campus boards

  • College campus boards have some great opportunities specifically aimed for students like you. However, it is also effective to check the boards of other college campus’, not just your own.
  • ICU has a couple (albeit small) notice boards where jobs and internships are posted in English and Japanese.

7. Craigslist Tokyo

  • I’ve found two of my internships, as well as a variety of other “odd jobs” or “events” on craigslist. Don’t bother trying to browse through listings over a week old; try to check craigslist every couple days for new listings.
  • You will see all sorts of things, from AV models, to female waitresses, to part-time/full-time English teaching, to the occasional “real” job. Those unique jobs are few and far between – apply to as many as you can.

If you actively try all seven of these methods when applying for an internship in Tokyo, I guarantee you will find something. The trick is to never give up. For more advice, check out “8 Things I Wish I had Known Before Applying to Internships / Jobs

Good luck~

Add me on Google Plus: +Grace Buchele

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

20 Comments on How to find a Job, Internship, or “Baito” in Tokyo (Japan)

  1. Imran Ahmed // 4 February, 2016 at 5:19 pm //

    This article is great! As Well as the comments!

    It has been a year since the last comment and hope to get an answer.

    I am an international student (half Pakistani and half Sri Lankan but born and lived in Dubai), I have studied in the UK for my undergrad and finishing up my Postgrad, and have a huge interest in moving to Japan to work. It may be immature but i need to take risks and hope for the best.

    I wanted to ask the author or anyone else reading that should I go for the UNpaid Internships for a few months (3-6) through a website called IIJ (Internship in Japan) and hopefully find a “Baito” to earn some extra cash.

    From the different prices of daily/weekly/monthly budgets that I have read online and from friends, i am still worried about it being too expensive. most of the internships are based in Tokyo and other big cities around Japan.

    I hope someone could help me through my journey if possible

  2. Hi, thank you for this article. I am a student in Copenhagen, Denmark and I study Web Development. I would like to do an internship(paid of unpaid – if it’s unpaid, are they offering accommodation at least? ) in Tokyo starting in August. I did some research online and I found some organizations which are helping students to find internships but it’s kind of expensive.
    I am wondering if it’s possible to give me some specific websites where I can get in contact with companies of people who have been in Tokyo or did an internship.
    Thank you and once again, great topic!

    • Hi there! I am in the same situation here but different year. I am as well finishing my studies in Denmark :D. How did it go with your internship search, the experience which followed, your time in Japan? I would be really glad to hear some stories. You are already aware of the struggle we are facing. Thanks a lot in advance!
      Best wishes,
      Ana

  3. Great article! And btw it is アルバイトInstead of アリバイト. Anyways I am going back for the entire summer which is close to 2 months during 2015. And I thought you would be a great person to ask :) I am looking for a part time job, volunteer opportunity or anything that would be helpful to do during summer. I am under 18 and I am very mature and have a great deal of experience when it comes to speaking both languages, communicating and teaching both languages. I know I am young but what can I do?

    • Thanks! Fixed it~

      Hmmmm… difficult to tell. What city? And how long will you be staying/will you be staying with friends/family?

      • Yes I will be staying with a cousin who lives there and will go to uni next year. I will be in Tokyo staying there for about three months from early June.

  4. Ariel F. Lind // 2 November, 2014 at 10:54 pm //

    Okay, thank you very much.

  5. Ariel F. Lind // 2 November, 2014 at 12:13 am //

    Hi again! Well, I’ve been thinking about my future recently and came to a startling realization: I have tons of things I want to do, but would I be able to do them? I was wondering if you could help me out.

    You see, I want to study abroad in Japan, but I also want to work as an English teacher there. Is that possible? What do I need to know about being/becoming an English teacher in Japan?

    Career-wise and income-wise, I have a few things in mind. I really do want to be an English teacher, but right now I’m also working on book and song projects. I was also researching YouTube partnerships. Is it allowed to have more than one job (I don’t know if I phrased that right…I guess “more than one source of income” would be better, but I hope that doesn’t make it sound like I’m in it solely for the money)? Is maintaining that kind of lifestyle realistic or even possible? Should I not pursue some as job choices?

    I really hope you can help me. My plans for moving to Tokyo sometime in the future still haven’t changed, and I think this blog has helped reduce some of the fears and doubts I’ve been having recently about moving.

    So, really, I owe you a big thank you! \^o^/

    You’re awesome!

    • I think it’s pretty easy to find an English teaching job in Japan – even if you don’t have a ton of experience… but most English teaching jobs here don’t really pay that well (if that makes sense). You’re looking at $1500 – $3000 a month, not including health insurance, housing, etc. So (excluding food), most of my friends have aboug 500 – 1800 a month for food, utilities, travel, hobbies, etc – which isn’t a ton.

      Most English teaching jobs also have fairly long hours too, so you don’t have too much time aside for extra projects. It all depends on what kind of job you can get, though.

  6. For proper academic internships in Japan in marketing, consulting, engineering and so on check out Lindenbaum. http://www.lindenbaum.asia

  7. A 24-year old Dutch guy I met in Osaka has a part-time job basically walking around serving drinks and posing with a bunch of other muscle-y foreign foreign guys at events that are supposed to be for Japanese people to practice their English and meet other foreigners, and are, in practice, mainly Japanese women who don’t speak all that much English mingling nervously with a bunch of foreign guys (surprise, surprise).

    The funny thing is, he’s actually a fairly intellectual and introverted guy despite his physique, and very serious about studying Japanese–he speaks well–and he said he “hated” doing this kind of job..but it paid him well.

    • I can imagine. I had an “English teaching” job where i would meet at a cafe and practice English with people. About half of the men who signed up to “chat” with me at a cafe hit on me for the entire trial class. I would drop in “my fiance” as often as I could (without seeming suspicious); a vast majority of them never called me back.
      Several of them (some married, some not) even explicitly said they were looking for a foreign girlfriend and only clicked on my teaching profile because I was “cute.” Then I promptly would ask them to leave. Some of the students were serious about learning English and had no intention of flirting with me, but those were few and far between.

      I had a couple friends that essentially did “paid dating” with an English teaching site – posted a sexy picture and a rate of 2000yen – 4000yen an hour to hang out at a cafe and “practice English” – which usually turned into dating. It was a bit awkward.

      I honestly don’t know what kind of expectations Japanese people have when they go to an English event hosted by someone of the opposite sex. It’s a bit uncomfortable. There are some honest teachers like me (and your friend) out there, but I think a fair number are looking for easy money and dates.

  8. Nice article.I am on the other end of that stick….I am a business owner in Kamakura looking for an intern :-) Is there anywhere I could still find someone for August?My company is a small importing/distributing/pr & I also have a design store……If anyone comes to mind could you give them my email please?Best Ruth.

    • gracebuchele // 30 July, 2013 at 10:38 am //

      Hi Ruth,

      I sent off a couple email inquiries – most of the people I know are travelling during the summer. I will send along your email if any of them happen to be in Tokyo for the summer.
      Thanks
      Grace

  9. There’s three companies that help find part-time jobs and interns for foreigners at hotels and resorts I’ve heard of. One’s boobooSKI, the other’s Japan Internships and the other is SAN Consulting.

    Ski resort jobs in the winter and beach resort jobs in the summer seem to be their focus. That’d be pretty cool!

    • Thanks! I will add that to the article.
      I have a friend that’s working in Okinawa as a lifeguard at a resort for a couple weeks in summer. There’s a lot of seasonal employment in Japan!

  10. Never give up!! I like that a lot! that’s how I got a job!
    AIU sends e-mails to students about internships and part-time job.
    Great topic!

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