Last weekend, I attended the Boston Career Forum, a conference for Japanese-English bilinguals looking for work in Japan or America. I was mostly looking for positions in Japan in the software field. The last time I was in Boston was in 2006, for my cousin Mariel’s graduation. That was unfortunately a year before I started this blog, so I don’t have any record of it here! The last time I was in Boston the only thing I really remember was there being a lot of traffic and a lot of seafood. This time, I didn’t experience as much traffic or as much seafood, in fact I didn’t really get to experience much of Boston at all. For the most part, I was at the conference center.
My travel partner was Minori. She was also looking for work in Japan, but mostly just to see what was available and to keep her options open. I think her main goal is to work in America. We left at noon on Thursday (I had to take a day and a half off work) and drove to the airport. The airport parking was super cheap, coming out to just above $50 for 4 days of parking. Little did we know, that would be about the cheapest thing we would encounter for the next four days.
Seriously, Boston was expensive. I spent a lot of money and we didn’t even do anything. We saved quite a bit of money by staying in Saugus, about 15 minutes out of the city. When we landed at Boston Logan International, we took a cab to our hotel and that was about $35 with tip. We realized we would be going back and forth between the hotel and the conference center and into the city quite a bit, so we were a bit worried at the price it cost for just a one way trip. We decided that was about what it would cost and there was nothing that could be done about it now having reserved the hotel. Thinking back, the cheapest hotels in the city were still over $200 a night, so even if we rode the taxi a few times a day we were still saving money in the long run.
We got checked in around 9pm and admired the hotel. It was a Red Roof Inn, and had really nice rooms!
We got lucky when booking this with a hotwire hot rate, only $60 a night for rooms that usually cost $120+. I got a new suit for the conference, charcoal with a subtle stripe pattern:
It was at about this time that Minori realized she forgot her suitcase. The one with her suit and resumes and everything in it. She completely forgot to claim it at the airport. We called the airport and they said they were closing in 15 minutes but wait if we came right away. We called a cab real quick and went back to the airport. We actually got to the airport right before the scheduled closing time, but all of the lights were off behind the counter and no one was there. Our taxi driver was super helpful. He offered to wait for us for about 20 minutes while we went back and forth between the information desk and the Sun Country counter trying to figure out what to do about her luggage that she needed for the conference in the morning. In the end, there was nothing that could be done about the luggage and we had to go back to the hotel and try again in the morning before the conference. He charged us only a flat rate for the Saugus to airport route and ignored the 20 minutes waiting time. He also took us to Kelly’s to get some food and to Walgreen’s so Minori could get some essential supplies she was now missing. We were super impressed by the taxi’s customer service!
The next day we went to the airport early in the morning (another $40 or so) and were able to get Minori’s suitcase right away. We decided it would definitely be better to rent a car. We rented a car and asked for a navigation system. After some mix ups behind the counter, getting to our spot and getting the wrong car with no navigation system, having to go back to the counter and get it worked out, we still didn’t have a navigation system and our car wasn’t right, but we didn’t have a whole lot of time so we just used my phone to navigate by propping it up on the dashboard. We grabbed some quick breakfast at a Dunkin Donuts (everywhere in Boston) and then went back to the hotel so Minori could change. The conference started at 9am, but we weren’t going to make that for sure. Luckily, Minori’s first interview wasn’t scheduled until late in the afternoon. I didn’t have any interviews scheduled yet, so we were fine with just missing a part of the conference.
The rental car wasn’t really cheap, but it turned out to be much more cost effective than using taxis. Minori got changed and then we navigated with my phone to the conference center. That was about when I realized I had forgot my resumes at the hotel. Yeah, it’s a good thing we rented a car. We were off to a good start in Boston. I told Minori to go ahead to the conference while I ran back to the hotel and came back with my resumes.
I got to the conference, checked in and finally got to start looking at the companies. There were over a hundred and twenty companies at the conference, but only about twelve that would be interested in hiring me as a programmer. I was looking for companies that were looking for a software engineer that was native English, business Japanese. Most companies at the conference were either looking for IT Consultants and/or native Japanese which narrowed my options quite a bit. I was a bit out of place at the conference, as I could count the number of non Japanese people I met at the conference on my fingers. It didn’t bother me much though, because I felt like I was in Japan again.
One of the first companies I went to look at was called Red Fox. This is the company I was the most interested in from the beginning because it seemed to fit the position I was looking for the most. They make smartphone applications for businesses, and making android apps is one of my favorite things to do. I enjoyed watching their seminar and put in my English and Japanese resumes along with filling out their questionnaire. I was surprised that I actually got a call back while I was still at the conference. They scheduled me for an interview the next day at 1:10! Great, I had an interview!
A lot of companies at the conference were really big. Amazon Japan, Twitter Japan, Sony, etc were all present. Most of these companies were looking exclusively for marketers or native Japanese speakers only, however. I sat through quite a few seminars and got a feel for the companies I was most interested in. I did have my sights set mostly on Red Fox, though.
After the booths closed for the day we went back to our hotel and prepped for the next day. We got some chinese take out food and Minori worked on handwriting some more of her Japanese resumes and doing research on the companies she would interview for the next day. I applied for some more companies online on the career forum’s website and went to bed.
Despite the hiccups we had in the beginning, I think the rest of the weekend was pretty smooth sailing. I saw a lot of companies, handed out a lot of resumes and got a few interviews in. On Saturday I had my interview with Red Fox. I was a bit nervous because I had not had many face-to-face Japanese interviews before that weren’t for a class or something. It wasn’t a grade on the line anymore, it was a job! Not only that, I was interviewing with the company’s CEO! It was a bit intimidating to interview with the CEO of a company I was interested in using only my second language, but things went quite well and he invited me out to dinner with him and the other Red Fox workers at 6pm that evening. I accepted immediately and said I would see him again that night!
I have to say that I was really happy with how Saturday went. Friday was my practice day, Saturday was the real deal. When the conference ended for the day, I met the CEO, a few other Red Fox applicants, and the other Red Fox booth workers for dinner. The place we went to was a really nice steak restaurant within walking distance of the conference center. The other applicants were really fun and easy to talk to. I noticed we all had a lot in common, despite from coming from all different parts of the world.
The dinner went really well and the food was great! I was tempted to shoot a quick shot of the meal with my camera phone but I refrained, not sure on whether or not that would be good manners at such a nice place. You’ll just have to take my word that it was a delicious steak.
On the way back to the parking lot, I had a picture perfect view of the conference center lit up at night. I took out my phone to take a picture of it, but my phone had died while I was walking back. Imagine that I got a really nice shot of the building and insert it here…
On the final day in Boston, we left the conference around noon so we could check out of the hotel and see a bit of the city. We didn’t really see much, but we did eat at a Five Guys and enjoy the cloudy weather. We went to a Legal Seafood to get some clam chowder and took a walk around downtown. The city was actually really beautiful with all of the fall colors. It had a very New England feeling. The traffic was really light because it was Sunday and it looked like the patrols weren’t monitoring the parking meters so we were able to find parking around town pretty easily. We had just enough time before our flight to see a movie, so we went to see Captain Phillips. We were both pretty worn out from walking around the convention center all day, so a movie sounded good to both of us. Captain Phillips was really good. I don’t think Tom Hanks has ever been in a bad movie, has he?
The rest of the trip went without incident. We returned our car, no problems, boarded our flight without forgetting anything (amazing!) got back to Minneapolis, and drove back to Eau Claire. I ended up getting home around 2am and had to get to sleep right away for work the next day. I definitely regret that I didn’t get to see much of Boston, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to see much before I left so it can’t really be helped. It was a tiring and expensive weekend, but the experience was well worth the trip.