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【Staff Interview】As a graduate from Harvard University, how did Claire join Borderless House?
Hi, this is Ting from Borderless House!
Today we are having an interview with our American staff member - Claire, who is also the only Borderless House member from a western country.
I am very curious that how Claire feels about working abroad in Japan, where is famed for intense work culture and the work environment differs greatly from an American workplace, also how does she think about the working environment at Borderless House? Is there any moment that makes her feel hard because of cultural differences? Do any interesting episodes or difficulties occur between her and her colleagues because of the cultural diversity at the workplace?
In the meantime, let us get a brief look at what Claire's currently working on and how a regular workday looks like as a Borderless House staff!
Working culture and environment
ーHow is your day going, Claire?
My day is going really well!
We had our usual morning meeting, except today we shared stories about times when we experienced cultural misunderstandings or surprises at the workplace or within the sharehouses. As an American working in an international environment at Borderless House Tokyo, I was able to share how I was surprised by the company culture and international environment which I was welcomed into.
ーThat’s good to hear! Sounds like the working environment is totally different from what you thought?
Many people, including myself, have the impression that all Japanese companies are extremely strict and overwork their employees, so I was nervous about working for the first time in Japan. All these preconceptions turned out to be false! Borderless House is an environment that feels like home and like family rather than work to me. Of course, there are stressful times, but I don’t need to wait until after work gets off to feel better because I can just rely on my coworkers to help me manage the workload and ease my stress. I almost think it might be a more comfortable company culture than that which I have experienced in America!
I just finished a delicious peach jelly which was brought to the office as a gift from one of our house owners (thanks Mr. Miazawa!) and now am in the middle of working on some translations and revisions for the website.
Regular workday and responsibilities
ーIs this what a regular day looks like for you?
Yes, in terms of both eating snacks and also with the type of work (lol). On Tuesdays we have an all-company meeting including the Kansai Borderless House team and are able to discuss any recent news or ongoing difficulties that need to be solved. As for my own personal tasks, I have a pretty varied and exciting set of tasks. First off, I am involved in Japanese to English translations for the website, blog posts, and for tenant emails. I also from time to time have written my own blog posts. I also have the opportunity to help with marketing and planning for new campaigns and company initiatives. One of those new campaigns is the Online Language Exchange which takes place every Tuesday night, and I have really enjoyed participating with other tenants from a variety of different countries. On Saturdays I also have been assisting with our online information sessions, both in Japanese and in English, showing individuals what life inside one of our share houses really looks like. Spoiler alert: it's super fun and exciting!
ーThere are various tasks you work on! As far as I know, other than those regular tasks, we always need your opinions and suggestions, since we have 50% non-Japanese tenants, non-Japanese staffs’ advice is always helpful to us!
Yeah, as the sole staff member from a Western country, I do my best to provide some personal cultural insight into how we can best spread our information and concept to other groups of people outside of Japan and Asia. It may look like a lot, but I have so much fun each week helping out and really believe in Borderless House, so I want to do my best to help it thrive!
A journey from Borderless House resident to Borderless House staff
ーBy the way, how did you find your way to Borderless House? You were first a resident right?
Yeah, that’s right! I moved into Borderless House Iidabashi House last year in August and only became a staff member this year in March. Between August and December, I was settling into life in Japan and realized that my schedule was not really full which was causing me to feel really unfulfilled. I knew that I should try and make the most of my time in Japan, but I just didn’t have any clear idea of what I should do to fill my time.
ーSo what’s the trigger that makes you want to work with us?
The reason that I decided to work for Borderless House was that I was so grateful to Borderless House for providing me with a sharehouse family that I wanted to give back. I wanted to help promote Borderless House outside of Japan and let more foreigners know about this company. As there was no native English-speaking staff at the time, I also felt that I could help with company interactions with foreign residents!
ーCould you share more details with us about the processes of becoming a staff
The first time that I pursued a position at Borderless House was in October during the Borderless House Sports Festival. Prior to that, I’d had some really great conversations with the Borderless House staff members when they had come to the house for move-ins, move-outs and maintenance. The staff always were so willing to talk candidly with me and they had only positive things to say about the company when I asked what the company environment was like. I already had personally experienced the positive effects of Borderless House’s efforts and so I wanted to be a part of the staff who made it all happen! That October, while covered in sweat and flour (from one of the games we played), I nervously approached Mr. Lee, the company president, to express interest in working at Borderless House and after filling out an official application in February the process was finalized in March. I haven’t had any regrets since!
People who work at Borderless House
ーThat sounds amazing! We would like to hear more about Borderless House staff!So what are your coworkers like? Who do you get to work with?
Given the type of tasks that I do within the company, I am really lucky that I get to interact with almost every single member of the staff. I also have the opportunity to interact on a regular basis with our company president, Mr. Lee, to discuss new programs and website initiatives.I really appreciate the communicative and collaborative environment which is fostered by the staff. For example, when we have staff meetings, we are encouraged to bring up ideas and comments, even if it is in regard to a project which we may not be directly working on.
Also, I have really enjoyed taking my lunch break in the office with other staff members to talk about our own international experiences, and our future goals and dreams. As one of the younger staff members, I feel that I have a lot to learn from my co-workers and I love hearing everyone’s life story. Sometimes these conversations even carry on past working hours and into dinners and nights at izakayas together.
ーWhat is your personal opinion of Borderless House?
My experiences both as a tenant and as a staff member have left me with an overwhelmingly positive opinion of Borderless House.
Borderless House has a massive heart for bringing people together and serving its tenants well. I think that as a tenant, I was able to feel the family environment of Borderless House in my own house community. Now as a staff member, I feel that my Borderless House family has grown and expanded to include all tenants in all houses as well as all of my co-workers.
I think that the social mission of Borderless House is also extraordinarily unique and impactful. It is not very often that you are given the opportunity to live with an entire house of people who share different backgrounds and different beliefs than you. Borderless House teaches you how to listen and learn well from others and I truly believe that for tenants who fully embrace the mission of living at Borderless House, they will leave their share house as a better version of themselves.all of our tenants leave as a better version.
ーSo how would you describe the company?
In just a few phrases, I would describe it as a family away from home, people-oriented buss, international, and growth-minded.
Any last comments or lessons you learned during your time at Borderless House?
I think most importantly, I was able to realize that doing meaningful work is the key to happiness in my own professional life. As someone who has not mastered Japanese and struggled to find a job in Japan where I felt that I was making a difference, I finally felt like I was able to contribute in a meaningful way at Borderless House. Of course, there is paperwork and other computer-based tasks that need to be completed, but at the end of the day, I am able to go home to a house full of friends and realize why I am working so hard every single day. I have faith now that there are jobs and companies that will be ready to serve people and to make a difference in the world- I just need to find them!
Lastly, to all of the readers, I think it goes without saying, I would highly recommend trying out Borderless House life for yourself!