Sunday, March 04, 2007

Toshiba Chronicles II

It was about 11pm when we had reached the Toshiba Training Center and Guest House. Upon reaching our respective rooms, I had immediately dumped all my baggages on one side and brought out my laptop computer. Instead of eating dinner, to connect to the internet was the very first thing that came to my mind. My colleagues went up to the 6th floor to eat some noodles from the vendo while I briskly brought out my laptop and connected to the internet.

Remember when I dropped my backpack at the Centennial airport? When I opened my bag, I noticed a crack at the back of the lid. OMG, I just hoped that it will still run since I brought it mainly to present my slides. The crack had an effect on the CDROM drive, as it could not be opened readily. I had to remove the cover since something seems to be clipping the cover, preventing it to open. So now, my laptop has a bare CDROM drive and a crack nearby it. I just shrugged it off, since at least the laptop is still working in good condition. "What the hell, I'm in Japan. I don't care if there's a crack. Just make sure it works."

At about 1am, I couldn't access my webmail account. I thought it was blocked or something. I didn't know why but I thought they had a curfew for the internet there. I had no choice but to sleep. After all, I had to wake up early because call time the next morning was 730am. This just shows that I really have been internet dependent lately. Who wouldn't if you have been enjoying unlimited internet 24/7 back in the Philippines.

FIRST DAY HIGH: (feb 24)
Feb24, the Singaporeans came alongside with the Indonesians. We were all in all 55 candidates at Toshiba. We were actually the 2nd batch. A week before us, Malaysians and Thais comprised of about 20 had been there already. The Singaporeans came out strongly as some of them wear jackets of NUS (National University of Singapore). NUS is among the top 10 technological universities of the world. Not only that, most, if not all are MS students already.

We boarded a bus towards the Toshiba dormitory which was less than an hour away from the training center. Our group was comprised of Filipinos and Taiwanese. Inside the bus, we had short introductions of ourselves. The Taiwanese people also turned out to be MS students already. One was even already 30 years old, and married. We were accompanied by 2 HR's namely, Sherry-san and Sawai-san. Sherry-san had been one of the HR interviewers back in the Philippines. The HR people speak english and act as facilitators for the whole interview event.

We were given a tour of the Toshiba dormitory. It would be the place to stay once we are to be accepted. Toshiba is a big name in Japan. In the guest house and the dorm, ALL electronic devices have Toshiba as brand. TV, hair blower, bulb receptacle, washing machine, microwave ovens, outlets, etc. Here in the Philippines, we only see Toshiba for the TVs and the laptops.

After the dormitory tour, we were dropped off at Family Mart, a convenience store in Japan. It was just blocks away from our guest house; they brought us there so that we would know where to buy just in case we would go out. My Atenean companions were amazed with what they saw inside. In the magazines/manga section, there are one too many rated R mags. Convenient nga! One even bought 3 magazines worth 1k yen each. The mags contains DVD inside. I've also browsed through one of their mangas and I could see some hentai manga strips. I'm not sure about what's taboo in Japan but for sure sex isn't.

I have seen condoms displayed in the store, then I remembered AllanGordon's request. He wanted condoms to be his omiyage because he is curious about its sizes. He assumes that the Japanese has tiny members. Since I bought a box of 12, I thought that this is going to be my omiyage for males. I don't know with the others, but I couldn't dare buy a condom in the Philippines. Especially when the cashier/attendant would be female, I'd surely get the malicious stare. But at Family Mart, I had to buy this, or else I won't have any omiyage's to give. My Atenean companions went in line to buy those R magazines while I followed them in line to buy the condoms. The cashier was a 'lolita-type', the typical japanese lass portrayed in cute animes, them having those high pitched voices. With my companions buying smut and me buying condoms, we looked like a bunch of perverts.

The afternoon session was dedicated to the presentations of each Toshiba in-house company. Toshiba's structure is that it had been divided into 9 different companies, having their own CEOs under one umbrella organization. Each company had presented what they do, and what skill sets they needed. Basing from our first 2 interviews in our respective countries, we were then referred to certain companies. I was referred to the Semiconductor company, wherein I had chosen Job #16.

For the first phase of interviews in Japan, at most we would have 2 interviews from different companies. We were given the chance to choose and prioritize a number of companies according to our liking. My first choice was still Semicon, 2nd was Digital Products, 3rd: Corporate Software Engineering Center, and the 4th was in Industrial Systems.

DAY 2: (feb 25)
It was only the next day that the schedule of interviews were released. I had 2 interviews scheduled for this day. 1 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. My first was under Semiconductor. This was the company I was actually referred to during the Philippine interviews. I had presented our thesis project relating to the design and implementation of a dual-core DLX microprocessor. I had about 9 people in the panel. The interview went quite well since I am confident with what I had presented. My choice under Semiconductor company is in Design and EDA.

The 2nd interview in the afternoon was with Industrial Systems (under Infrastructure Company). This was actually only my 4th choice from yesterday. I guess there were already too many in Digital Products and CSE. They prioritized those referred to by the per country interviews. I chose Industrial Systems because accdg to their presentation, they needed global sales engineers. This became my fallback choice if ever I could not be accepted in my first choice. Our thesis regarding Microprocessors is quite far from what the Industrial systems specialize in, but I had emphasized in my interview that it was the technical sales aspect I wanted in their company. After all, among the delegates who came, Filipinos have the greatest advantage when it comes to communication skills, specifically in English.

We were given essays to answer in between interviews. Thus, we were just in the waiting room the whole time. For Feb26, I no longer have a scheduled interview, but I still have to answer those essays. After the essays, we may have some free time, but we should always go back either by lunch time or dinner time. Since we didn't have internet in our rooms, there were available LAN cables at the internet kiosks. It was the only time we were able to use the internet so we used up most of our free time there. I needed the internet badly because my roaming was not activated. Phones should be quad-band in Japan. Apparently, the SMART lady misinformed me of using at least a triband phone. Good thing there is chikka, I get to text those in the Philippines, though I don't get to receive any text on my cellphone at Japan.

Overall, the whole Toshiba interview experience was like one big Psywar for me. You don't know if they needed your skills. You have to choose and emphasize on the skills you think would fit their needs. The panelists even are poker-faced so you don't know if you really did good and are acceptable to them. We were 55 candidates from the Asia-Pacific Region. Competition is indeed tough. At this phase, you don't even know who your competitors are. One would even feel low from all those MS degree holders, NUS/NTU people, and all other mature advantages over us. So far, there is only one Filipino working under the Toshiba technological companies.

The night of the 26th, results would be announced on who shall stay for the final interview, and who shall go home early the next morning. I was no longer contented on just being able to reach Japan. I wanted to stay longer for the final interview. I have to maximize my stay. (to be continued)
Taiwanese (photo taken by Jaafgie)

The Singaporeans (coming from National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University)

The Indonesians
Filipino: "You Indonesians look like Filipinos"
Indonesian: "You Filipinos don't look like Filipinos"

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posted by ScIoN 4:40 AM


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Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

ScIoN is a former Systems Engineer in Japan who specialized in industrial imaging and digital hardware design. He is now back in the Philippines pursuing graduate studies in Finance at the University of the Philippines - Diliman.



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