Location: Trunk Kitchen, Shibuya
I hadn’t seen Austin for two years since we worked together briefly at my former company. Actually, if I remember correctly, it was at a debaucherous night of karaoke, where he busted out his impressive vocal skills. This is the song he sang…in Japanese, without looking at the lyrics.
Anyways, I’m interviewing Austin for my upcoming book Unlikely Pioneers of Japan, so this was a pre-interview meetup. We got to talking Japanese government, tourism, recruitment and freelance life in Japan. He’s working on several freelance projects himself — growing a tourism product called Lingo and running the MEXT scholarship association.
Notable points/links from our conversation:
-The Japanese government has made it a priority initiative (since 2017) to help foreign students in Japan and find work. The actual initiatives they’re implementing are still unclear.
-Liigo is the tourist platform company he’s helping with dev and marketing http://company.liigo.world/
-MEXT Scholars Association (http://mextsa.org/) is an association created by MEXT scholars to help students make the best of their student lives and post-graduation careers. Austin designed and help deploy the 2018 JAPI’s research project — a survey about foreigners working in Japan as well an assessment of attitudes of foreign students in Japan. Results to be released in a few weeks. Austin was also kind enough to share the raw slide decks for presentations he did the previous year. They cover perspectives and demographic data for exchange students in Japan, as well as their job preferences for specific companies. Here they are: JAPI Survey/English slides
What else I learned from Austin:
-Tokyo University (also known as “todai”), Japan’s #1 and most prestigious public university. Tuition? Only $6,000 per year. Compare that to Ivy Leagues in the US or Europe which start upwards of $40,000 per year — often 10x as much! Your job prospects after graduating from Tokyo University are on par with a Stanford/Harvard in Japan, and it’s fairly easy to get a job.
-Current statistics on foreign students: Around half of people holding a foreign student visa right now in Japan are from mainland China. Right now, their group which has been growing exponentially for the past few years, that’s something you can definitely pick up if you go to any — I mean, you’ve been here 4-5 years right? You notice the number of Vietnamese which are actually working in companies right now?
Austin’s LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/austin-zeng-120a4563/