Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Toshiba Chronicles IV

I woke up at about 630am. I went out of my room and realized that the others had already gone and probably boarded the bus towards the airport. My final interview is scheduled at 1030am at the Toshiba - Oita Prefecture, still within Yokohama. My call time at the lobby was 9:15am. I noticed that I was the only one wearing business attire that morning. Most of my colleagues' interviews are scheduled in the afternoon, if not the next day.

The schedules for the final interview was given the night before. Jmer and Sheila, had no scheduled interview for this day so it was their free day. As for me, I shall be free only in the afternoon, after my interview. The next day, those who no longer have interviews on the 28th are scheduled to go home.

Sheila had a relative who is actually a 'TNT' in Japan. Since it was their free day, they had the luxury to wander around Japan with a guide. I actually told them to wait for me till the afternoon so that I may be able to join; however, Sheila was not sure about their itinerary and it would depend on her tita.

In our schedules, Jie Cui of Singapore and I have the same time slot of interview at the Toshiba in-house Semiconductor company. I was able to talk to Jie Cui the night before and we compared our fields of specialization. She is mainly involved with Analog Mixed Signals, and is also knowledgeable in using Cadence tools. We were not sure if we were competing for the same job or if our job applications just fall under one department.

I waited for Ryo-san at the main lobby. He gave me a printed copy of the map towards Oita which would be given to the taxi driver. I had to go alone to Oita since Jie Cui already has another interview prior to our 1030am schedule. At least she has another interview, while I only have one shot. Ryo-san showed the map to my taxi driver and gave him some sort of taxi ticket.

Taxis in Japan are far different from what you see here in the Philippines. Drivers are well-dressed and very courteous. I was amazed since the taxi has a GPS monitor inside. My driver just inputted some details based from the map given to him. All throughout our trip, the driver was relying on his monitor as it gave directions. Probably, the GPS monitor gives out the optimized path towards our destination. It even indicates what U-turn slot to go, and every toll gate and traffic light is also registered in the monitor. I enjoyed the ride despite having a near car collision on the way. How dare did I even think that experiencing an accident in Japan is high end.

After about an hour, we had finally reached the Oita site where I shall have my final interview. I looked on the taxi meter and it registered 7300 yen! That's already thousands of pesos! Good thing Toshiba still paid for it.

I was greeted at the lobby of the microelectronics center of Toshiba. The receptionists knew how to speak English, which is very rare in Japan. I was told to wait for my interviewer. I was expecting that it would again be a panel interview, just like in the first phase.

Mr. Takao Ito, met up with me in the lobby and ushered me into an empty conference room. It turned out that he would be the one interviewing me. Mr. Takao Ito is the senior manager of analog design CAD department, System LSI second business unit, Toshiba Corporation Semiconductor Company.

Jie Cui hadn't arrived yet, so while waiting, Mr. Ito gave me a 4-question exam. After I turned over my exam, we then proceeded with my presentation. Again, I had presented our thesis project to him, one way of showcasing the skills I had learned in the university. I was aiming for the job wherein they have preferred skills in Cadence, VHDL/Verilog-AMS, EDA tools, etc. I would say that my interview went fine, since I got no negative hints coming from Ito-san. Btw, Ito-san is quite adept with his English. I didn't have to try some Nihonggo on him.

Jie Cui finally came when I was about to end my presentation. After my interview, Ito-san called and introduced me to a Singaporean guy who was just a new hire (last November). I think he works under the EDA tools department, hopefully where I may be assigned if ever I am to be accepted. I was then given a tour at the offices, while Jie Cui had her interview.

After my office tour, our taxi was already waiting outside. Jie Cui's interview had to be cut short by Ito-san. It turned out that the Singaporean guy knew Jie Cui because she was his senior back at NTU. Ito-san also told us that we had to catch up with our lunch at the guest house, so we really had to get going.

In the taxi, I had some bonding moments with Jie Cui. She is a Phd Candidate at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, about 5 years my senior. She told me she was a bit frustrated because her interview got cut short. For the 1 hour ride back to the guest house, we talked about lots of things. I explained to her the current situation in the Philippines. I told her about our politics, wherein actors become politicians and eventually win. I gave her an idea about the relatively high cost of living in Japan compared to the Philippines. I also told her that the Philippines only have few design companies. If ever I would not be accepted by Toshiba, I would probably work under a company wherein I could not apply what I had learned in the university. She felt sorry for me (haha! nagmukha ata akong kawawa) and did hope that both of us would be accepted.

We ate lunch together at the Guest house. By that time, 3 of my Filipino colleagues arrived at the Guest house, carrying shopping bags. It turned out that they just came from Yokohama, about 4 train stations away from Shin-Yokohama. Too bad I was not able to join them because of my interview. That afternoon, it would be their interview as well, but they will be going to Tokyo.

I was left all alone. I had no other Filipino companion since they all have their scheduled interviews that afternoon. Jmer and Sheila had not been back ever since, and I've heard they already went to Tokyo. I planned to go to Yokohama all by myself so I walked all the way towards the Shin-Yokohama station.

On the way, I saw Junior High students in their uniforms. I really wanted to take a picture of them because they really look like those shown in anime. These Japanese girls are indeed pretty, and are wearing above the knee skirts despite the cool temperature of 3-10 degrees. This was the only closest pic I could get. I didn't want to be too obvious taking pictures of Japanese women. They might think of me as a pervert and call the cops. I took shots while hiding my camera beneath my jacket; I really had no idea on how to get a good picture of them. Syet, I was a stalker.

Since I was not able to get a clear picture of the girls, I tried to use the zoom features of the digicam and directed it towards some other girls in the bullet train station. As soon as I pressed the button on my digicam, a bullet train appeared covering the girls. Anyway, at least now I have a picture of the famous shinkansen.
After my failed attempts on the picture taking, I went to the train station. I no longer pursued going to Yokohama for the fear of getting lost. I didn't even know how to operate the ticket issuing machine, and I didn't want to look clueless about it so I had cancelled my original plan. Instead, I went to an electronics store and bought myself a laptop protector.

Since I was not able to go to Tokyo or even Yokohama, I had limited choices for omiyage. I indulged myself in using all my 100yen coins in those egg machines. Since I have yet to give omiyages to my lady friends, I chose the Disney keychains. Elma told me earlier that she wanted origami paper. Thinking that origami paper is consummable, I bought a spongebob keychain (with eggnogs) for her (I made her choose between Disney and SB anyway).

I also have a souvenir for myself. If you are familiar with the anime Shakugan no Shana, I bought 2 figurines via the egg machine. The characters are female, and the figurines are cute... and sexy, hehehe.After buying those omiyages, I went back to the guest house. Darn, I really was the only Filipino 'finalist' who was not able to lurk around Japan, particularly in Tokyo. Poor me. Among the finalists, I am now called the Shin-Yokohama expert, because I had already familiarized myself with the outskirts of the area. Anyway, I should not worry because if ever I shall be accepted, Japan would be a commonplace for me.

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posted by ScIoN 9:01 PM


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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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