Failure Experience of Switching to IT Industry with Zero Background



In this article, I will introduce the case of my friend, who is a non-native Japanese and English speaker that failed to transition from a non-IT career to IT in Japan. I will analyze the reasons for this failure from multiple perspectives.


  • The purpose of this article is not to criticize any specific industry or company, nor is it intended to provoke debate on the subject, but merely to share this case as a reference point.
  • Readers are expected to have some knowledge of the Japanese IT industry to fully comprehend this article. Those without relevant background knowledge can seek out the necessary information on their own, as it will not be detailed here.
  • It is important to note that individuals who lack a clear goal, struggle with learning new skills, or lack proficiency with computers, have a higher chance of encountering difficulties when attempting to transition to a career in IT in Japan.

Profile of My Friend

He graduated from a university with a major in Japanese and has been living in Japan for over 10 years since graduation. He obtained a master's degree (liberal arts) from a university in Japan after studying Japanese for over a decade, but his proficiency in spoken and written Japanese is still quite low. He is not proficient in computer use and does not understand English well.

Experience before Changing Career

period event
20xx-06 He made up his mind to change careers, as he was working as a cashier in a convenience store at the time, and began searching for jobs on a job search website.
The positions available for people without prior industry experience were mostly for infrastructure engineers (referred to as インフラエンジニア in Japanese, which is similar to a system administrator in English). However, most of these positions were for operations, maintenance, and monitoring and did not require a high level of technical expertise. He believed that he could find a job by obtaining a certification, so he began studying for the CCNA.
20xx-07 ~ 20xx-11 Because he did not initially apply for a job with the intention of transitioning to a network engineering role (as he was unsure of his desired career path at the time), and with the increasing popularity of cloud services, he started learning AWS while seeking advice from me, who has relevant work experience.
Upon assessing his computer skills, I found that he was not proficient in basic operations and shortcut keys. Therefore, I suggested that he begin by learning these fundamentals. Despite studying for some time, he still struggles with basic computer use.
20xx-11 He applied for several positions on job search websites, but he didn't meet the qualifications for any of them. Additionally, he took the CCNA certification exam once but failed because there was too much content to remember, and he had difficulty understanding all the material as it was presented in Japanese.
20xx-12 Frustrated with his job search, he reached out to a recruitment agency for help.
20xx-01 ~ 20xx-06 The recruitment agency set him up with a few job interviews, but unfortunately he did not pass any of them.
After investigating the issue, I discovered that the content on his resume was very negative and lacked detail. I offered to help him revise his resume, taught him interview skills, and conducted mock interviews to help him prepare.
During this process, I also suggested that he learn at least one programming language, as this would greatly improve his job prospects. (In other countries, it is nearly impossible to enter the IT industry especially software industry, without knowledge of a programming language.)
20xx-07 After continuous practice of his interview skills, he was finally able to secure a job in a small System Engineering Service (SES) company.
20xx-08 ~ However, after joining the company, he was unable to find a project to work on and has been waiting for a job assignment since then.

Experience and Performance after Changing Career

Here are some of his experiences after changing careers. Please note that these behaviors are unprofessional.

Dealing with Complaints about Teammates

After joining the company, he underwent training and learned several programming languages, web basics, and databases. During the training, he worked with other new hires in groups on various projects, but he complained every day that his team members weren't cooperating or weren't working hard enough. This habit of complaining about others wasn't new to him, as he had also complained many times about his part-time colleagues while in university and about his co-workers in the convenience store where he used to work.

In my opinion, when a person constantly complains about others, they should reflect on whether the problem lies with themselves as well. Instead of complaining, solutions should be sought, and problems should be addressed. It's not professional to keep complaining without taking any action to improve the situation. This kind of behavior is not acceptable in any industry, as every employee should be able to face and solve problems in the workplace.

Refusing Code Review from Professionals

Despite my efforts to teach him various techniques and technologies, he started to refuse to show me the code he had written. Perhaps he felt embarrassed about his skill level and considered himself a novice. However, such behavior is unprofessional. In order to improve his programming skills, it's important to have experienced individuals review the code, point out areas that need improvement, and continuously refine the code accordingly.

Analyzing the Failure of Changing Career

Lack of clear career goals

When he decided to leave his job at the convenience store, he felt that the work was tedious and offered no opportunities for growth. He wanted to work in a technical field and learn new technologies, which led him to choose the IT industry. However, he had no clear direction or specific area of interest, making it difficult for him to determine what he wanted to learn or pursue. Successful career changers typically have a strong interest in computers, enjoy creative work, and have experience with self-study and personal development.

Difficulty Acquiring Systematic Knowledge

After observing his performance in operating a computer and his level of self-study for a period of time, my evaluation is that he faces difficulties in acquiring systematic knowledge and experience through books or practice.

An example of this is his experience of studying Japanese when he was a student. Although he studied the language for several years, he focused primarily on reading textbooks, neglecting to practice Japanese conversations. As a result, he was unable to pass the Japanese language qualification examination. This pattern of behavior indicates that he may struggle with learning new skills and knowledge in a structured manner, which can be a disadvantage in technical fields where constant learning and skill acquisition is required.

Low Japanese proficiency affecting job opportunities

The low level of Japanese proficiency is affecting his job search prospects in Japan. The university he attended in Japan is not well-known and does not require a high level of proficiency to attend. Despite living in Japan for many years, he struggles with the language and has difficulty writing even basic sentences without grammatical errors.

It is important to note that language proficiency can greatly impact one's career opportunities, particularly in a country where it is the primary language used in the workplace. A lack of proficiency in the language can limit job opportunities and hinder career advancement.

According to my observation, if an adult learns a foreign language but doesn't make significant progress in a short period of time, such as achieving standard pronunciation or writing well-composed articles, then it's unlikely they will make significant progress in their language abilities over time.

Lack of effort and reliance on post-employment training

Despite spending a lot of time teaching him during his job search, he didn't learn much. However, the more significant issue is that he relies too much on post-employment training. It's essential to understand that companies that train employees and pay wages must have an inside story. Getting into such a company and turning over in the future is quite challenging. Unfortunately, he didn't put in much effort to look for jobs that would help him acquire the skills he needed. Instead, he planned to find a job at any company and then change jobs again after learning the technology. This shows that he pinned his expectations on external factors rather than his own efforts.

Furthermore, he disregards advice and persuasion. When I found out that he wasn't good at computers at the beginning, I advised him to consider other industries, but he ignored it. Even after changing jobs and not finding a suitable project to join, he still ignored my advice. This lack of effort and reliance on post-employment training is a significant obstacle to building a successful career. It's crucial to understand that some things require personal experience, but it's also essential to be receptive to advice and to put in the necessary effort to succeed.

Future Outlook for Career Change to IT Industry

In recent years, it has become a trend in Japan for non-computer majors to switch to the IT industry. While many have succeeded, there are certain common traits among successful career changers. These include a strong interest in computers, a love for creating new work, and a self-taught programming skillset that they enjoy developing.

However, some individuals jump into this career change without considering all their options. In hindsight, it may have been better for them to work hard in their previous industry and strive for promotions and salary increases or switch to a similar industry rather than starting from scratch in a new field.

For my friend who was planning to continue in the IT industry at that time, the future outlook may be challenging. There are several reasons for this, including:

  • Difficulty in learning new technology even if a project becomes available. The need to interview with clients to enter projects, which can be difficult if the he has a fake resume or no relevant experience.
  • Limited career advancement and salary growth opportunities in small SES companies.
  • The average person has several years of work experience by the time they reach his age, and it can be challenging to make a successful career change after that point.

Therefore, it is essential to carefully consider one's options before making a career change and to invest in personal development and relevant skills before starting the transition.


The above is the introduction of my friend's job-hopping experience in Japan and an analysis of the reasons for his lack of success. Hopefully, readers who have undergone a similar situation can benefit from it.

As for my friend's current situation, he has a passion for cooking and possesses a certain foundation in the field. Currently, he is working as a chef in a restaurant, which was recommended to him by a friend. Although the salary is not particularly high, he enjoys the work.

It is essential to choose a career path that aligns with your interests and strengths; otherwise, no matter how hard you work, success may be elusive.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article.