Working At Apple Store, Pros/Cons?


#1

Anyone worked for an Apple Store? Have any information on what it’s like? I’ve got an opportunity to possibly work at one of the Tokyo stores, and I’m curious what it’s like. It seems like the company culture is the same everywhere in the world.

Since I had my battery serviced at one of the Tokyo locations, I noticed half of the staff “looked” non-Japanese. My union has a local at Apple, and we have good labor relations with the company. From talking to my union mates, it seems like it’s a really well paying position here, and not a “retail” job like I worked in high school or university.

On a side note, I put “looked” in quotes because Japan’s reputation as completely racially homogenous and anti-immigrant is a false one (Japan is already an immigrant country, I’ve had residency for almost a decade, even while I lived in Australia in 2010-2011 and the U.S. in 2012-2013, I’m naturalising and already have a legal Japanese name and identity paperwork, but I’m caucasian).

In rural Japan, of course, that’s hard to see. In Tokyo or Osaka or Fukuoka? It’s not hard at all. You’ll often hear the cited number that 98% of Japan’s population is “ethnically” Japanese, but this is a really a mistranslation: Japanese census options only have two choices for “ethnicity” in English, Japanese and foreign. If you hold Japanese citizenship, you are “ethnically” Japanese according to the Japanese government. Yamato Minzoku is what is used to refer to people of Japanese “genetic heritage.” Japanese-Australians or Japanese-Americans without Japanese citizenship but living in Japan would not be considered ethnically Japanese. So what 98% Japanese really means is 98% of people in Japan hold Japanese nationality. That says nothing about their genetic make up. Also there’s literally no legal distinction between at-birth and naturalised Japanese nationals. Unlike some countries where birth location vs naturalisation can determine legal rights or privileges (see the U.S. presidency).


#2

Apple is a culture company not a resume company. They are fully supportive of diversity. It also doesn’t really matter at what point in your career you come in, the majority of people even the genius’s start from nothing, and begin on the floor and in the red zone. Surprisingly the vast majority of people at Apple retail are not stereotypical IT people. It’s more of a build it and they will come sort of deal.

It’s as good a place as any to get a job especially when you’re a westerner in Japan and never fully feel like you actually belong there as a Gaijin and where it can be difficult to get work and live full time in Japan. It can even be difficult for people I consider part of my second family who are inter-racial South African-Japanese. They have a young family whose children have to decide by 21 whether they are Japanese or Australian as it is difficult to be a dual national in Japan. I don’t have the best insider experience of living permanently in Japan, but from what I’ve heard mostly from the outside. If you can get a foot in the door you should probably take it.

From what I gather even the ethnically native Korean-Japanese will still get referred to as “Gaijin” and among other things “Gokiburi” [Literally: cockroach] but in reality a lot of what I here is theoretical and while I am qualified in North East Asian foreign affairs, there is a big difference between knowing International Relations and living on the ground in Japan for an extended period of time.

In reality its little different to any other country we do the same thing with outsiders, refugees and immigrants in Australia. They do the same thing with outsiders, refugees and immigrants in Greece which is my other birth right nation. Nationalism has a strong bond wherever you go.

I will not go much further into exploring ultra-right wing nationalism in Japan because it makes Pauline Hanson look like the Dalai Lama and it can as a result lead to the expression of views that are either confronting or distressing.


#3

Thanks for the insight into the Apple store culture.

Since I clearly stated I am naturalising, obviously, I’m really critical of (actually, given how many times I’ve had to put up with it from expatriates, OVERTLY HOSTILE) to this claim you repeat about exclusion. This is my home, and I am far more of an outsider where I spent my childhood than here. That’s obvious every time I visit family or friends in the States. I’ve never even held a real work position in the States. I’ve been a Japanese resident for almost a decade, my entire adulthood after university. I don’t have a foot in the door, it’s my whole body. If I moved back to the States, I’d have to go through the entire cultural and workplace immigration experience all over again. I may have U.S. citizenship, but I’d very much be an outsider. I have no friends. Limited family. Few connections. Almost everything I’ve ever built for myself is here. The idea of leaving is… well… terrifying.

Also, I consider the g-word to be a slur and deeply offensive, and not only will I not say it, I have ended friendships over it. I have rarely ever heard its use from a native Japanese person. Only twice, in fact. In both cases, it was from elderly people, and in one case it was directed at fellow native Japanese–teenagers not from the area who were being rambunctious. I wince every time I hear some expatriate toss it out, and if I hear it more than once, I ask them to stop, at least in my presence. If they do not do so, depending on my position, I either leave or ask them to leave.


#4

Like I said. I am a North East Asian International Relations specialist. I am also a person who has spent a limited amount of time inside Japan. As I said the types of things you will hear about a country as opposed to living with your feet on the ground is vastly different.

The perspective of Japan as a country from an Australian persepctive has also substantially changed over the years but when you hear about the Japanese Prime Minister wanting to visit or reorient Japanese history towards ultra-right wing nationalist war shrines it doesn’t really leave you with warm and fuzzy feelings over what happened previously.

We in the west are just as guilty. I have had Japanese family friends most of my life. I understand some things I don’t understand enough. Until I spend enough time on the ground in Japan, I can’t exactly give you my whole sentiments on the matter because I don’t feel its my place as an outsider to pass those judgments over a culture that is substantially different to our own.

It’s not my job as an IR analyst to pass those judgements either. It’s my job to have some what of an understanding of these things, it doesn’t mean I fully understand it as you do. I also don’t want this to come off the wrong way.

There is lots I like about Japanese culture, I just don’t fully understand it. Nor do most westerners.


#5

I brought up the issue of diversity because as you confirmed, it seemed that Apple’s company culture seemed to directly tie into why there was a such a “visual” diversity, and why it seemed fairly straight forward to apply there and get considered. It does seem that Apple culture has trumped Japanese business culture here. And that’s no small feat.

I did my masters course work in government, with an emphasis on Japanese culture and politics, but with two other government comparisons: U.S. and Australian. Ironically, I visited Parliament in Canberra before I visited the U.S. Capitol, and I have still not visited the Kokkai. But my studies were only AFTER I had lived both in Japan and in Australia, versus every one else but my professor (whose wife is from Kyushu and whose children are dual nationals, and who taught constitutional law in Japan). It was also pretty much after that when I decided that Japan was my home, I belonged here, and I was committed to the cultural process of assimilation and the legal process of naturalisation. Otherwise, I might have gone back to Straya. Ironically, I believe Japan has given me more of a “fair go” than the U.S. ever did. But it could just have been my overtly socialist nature in the very libertarian American south.

I’m not a supporter of the jiminto (LDP), and I don’t generally support Prime Minister Abe or his various supporting organisations. I’m more aligned with socialist or communist parties in Japan, but how I’ll use my vote when I get it isn’t something I know for sure. Abe, for his flaws, believes in civic nationalism. You are Japanese if the law says you are Japanese. Unfortunately, civic nationalism is still nationalism, and nationalism, as you point out, has serious issues, even if it is accepting of naturalised citizens.

I can’t say I understand Japanese culture, but neither can most Japanese. I just live in it and generally accept it. It’s funny to ask a friend to explain something and they can’t. And I have found myself in the same position when friends or family from the States ask me to explain why I have developed a habit of this or that, and my sole response is, “Because Japan.”


#6

As I have said, my extent of travelling through Japan is mostly just that, short trips on the way to somewhere else. I don’t have the type of cultural capital that is nescessary to make an unimpaired judgment. My senior lecturer at my university was fluent in Japanese (also taught Japanese) and I’m sure she would be in a far better place to make any outstanding judgments.

I did my undergrad in Poltical Science, IR and History. My post grad is in migration history, so my highest level of education isn’t even in that field. I have a strong western bias, which is only natural considering I was born in Australia.

I agree you’re a national if it states by law that you are or if you have been naturalised. That makes me 1 part Australian by birth and 1 part Greek by blood, so where exactly my right to comment comes from is mostly academic and even then like I said. You can know a lot of things from an academic perspective which makes absolutely zero sense on the ground.

As you would also know from an American perspective, people over there don’t take too kindly to people who come purely from an academic perspective and that’s in a similar country. Where it comes to Japan, I have to first admit I don’t fully understand the cultural intricacies, and secondly I have the impediment of not being fluent in the language.

As to the Yasukuni Shrine thing, well, it’s all the talk of people who are schooled in what’s going on in Japan. Obviously its significant from a westerners perspective, but that doesn’t mean we as outsiders fully understand why people like Abe go there in the first place.


#7

We’re getting rather far afield of the original purpose of this thread. Like I said, I only talked about how obvious “visual” diversity was at the Apple Store because of how unique that was, and I think I was more trying to direct the conversation into a discussion of Apple culture rather than Japanese culture. I’d like to go back to that, especially since if we do not, soon, the moderators will likely move this to The Garage, and rightly so.

My undergrad was English, but I worked in politics. My graduate work was poli sci, masters minor in history, I took components in IR because they were required for the government degree. I’ve been alternately told I have a strong western bias by some expatriates in Japan, and I have been told I have a strong Japanese bias by some in the States. When my Japanese friends have been honest with me, almost always in near total privacy, they state, quite understandably, that I seem to be a mix. In some ways I tend to be effusive, extroverted, confident, and direct (very American) but in others I seem extremely tied to ritual, structure, group identity, concern for the well being of others, and committed to inclusion and acknowledgement (very Japanese). I find Japan much more tolerant of my extroverted personality than America ever was of my collectivism.

Anti-intellectualism is a real issue in America. I don’t understand it, but it’s become a significant cultural and political problem, and is in part, what has led to the current administration and party in power.


#8

Sorry for dragging this off topic. It’s mostly out of a sense that you say something and then realise that anything you could contribute is out of your depth. Regarding Apple culture. My experience is through sitting through the vast part of the interview process and them being fairly well candid about how the whole thing runs.

In a sense you have an advantage as a westerner, particularly in Japan as you can act as an English language intermediary among other things. On the specifics of hiring you would actually be well and truly surprised about the types of people Apple targets. Most of them are not IT people by qualification, although you will become one if you decide to hang around long enough.


#9

I’m a JHS teacher by training and trade. I taught English and social studies, either in English or in Japanese, depending. I love teaching, it was my career, and I had a seventh grade homeroom this year. But after some pretty serious disagreements with my administration, I chose to take a break. I’m writing, doing some labor organising, and then this opportunity came up. As a huge Apple fan, it seemed like a good way to do some soul searching for a while.


#10

I have an interview Sunday morning. Let’s see how this goes…