I have worked at IKEA Japan’s Bistro and Swedish Food Market (in the Kobe store) for about two months now. Here are some of my ideas and thoughts about it:
I first started working at the IKEA in Sweden for a summer job in 2012. I continued working there after graduating from Södertörn University until I left for Japan in September 2014. After that, I took a 3-month break before working at IKEA Japan in December. Since my previous responsibilities at IKEA of Sweden were mostly customer service-related jobs, my job at IKEA Japan was an entirely new experience for me. I didn’t know anything about the food industry or how to operate the restaurant. (Take a look here on how I first got the job.)
This December, I was given a friendly reception. Even though I was still working for the same corporation, the changes in country, culture and language, left me feeling a bit nervous. The reception started with an introduction of IKEA as a corporation and the different functions of the store. It continued with more specific education regarding the routines at IKEA Food, and especially about the rigorous food safety regulations.
These last couple of weeks, I’ve gone through a period of job interviews and waiting.
To start from the beginning. As some of you know, I’ve been working for IKEA in Sweden for a while. During that time, I found an interesting job recruitment ad (アルバイト募集) on the IKEA webpage. The only problem was, it was all written in Japanese! So I printed it out and brought it home for translation. It said that IKEA Kobe is looking for part-time workers in all departments, and I thought that this would suit me perfectly during my time in Japan. As I had worked partime for IKEA before during my studies in Sweden, why not try it in Japan?
The process started in July this year. I wrote a draft for the cover letter and gave it to a Japanese friend living in Stockholm to doublecheck it. My friend also mentioned that I would need a Japanese style CV. But since I didn’t have time to translate it, I submitted my English one. After some time, I got an answer written in Japanese from the HR department of the IKEA Kobe store. They said they were interested in having me coming over for an interview when I had settled down in Japan, which was almost 2 months later.
Back to the present.
I got help from the career advisor at Doshisha University who helped me to write a Japanese CV and brush up the Cover letter before going. The first interview was a group interview about three weeks ago with me and about 8 other Japanese people. The interview was conducted 100% in Japanese. It started with a short presentaion of IKEA. The group was then asked questions and we were all supposed to answer according to our own thoughts and experiences. For me, this was very hard since they used 敬語(polite Japanese) and some technical words I’ve never heard of. But in the end, I think I made a good impression. A few days after the group interview, I got a mail callling me in for another interview. And a week later, I went back to Kobe and met two managers from different departments. It was more informal and we talked about my background, Japanese language proficiency, and what my future plans were. A few days ago, I got a mail saying the job was mine and that i’ll start my training on the 1st of December!
IKEA is a great company and I have been thinking about continuting my career there, and working part-time for a store in Japan would greatly enhance this. My Japanese skills will also improve, and I’ll have a lot of fun and make new friends. And not to forget, I get a source of income again!
I’ve taken a leave of absence from IKEA Barkarby during my two years in Japan. Yesterday was the last day and I was greeted with goodbye hugs and gifts. I’ve been working here for a little over two years and grown to like and understand the company more and more. The wonderful people who works here is one of a kind. The airplane lifts off from Stockholm in less than two weeks and quiting IKEA reminds me of how fast time flies. This is the next step in my new life and it makes it feel more real. Thank you dear colleagues and sayonara!