• Wednesday, July 12, 2017

    Why I Switched Interac Branches (Kansai to Kanto)

    If you creep back to the very first posts of this particular iteration of Hello Nihon (not the wordpress version), you'll see that I really tried to highlight all that Kansai has to offer. I loved it there, honestly. The people were great, the food was amazing, and Osaka was a perfect sized city.
    A year ago, if it were up to me, there's no way that I would want to move from Nishinomiya. Unfortunately, it wasn't really up to me. Don't get me wrong because I love living in Yokohama and I love that being so close to Tokyo grants me the opportunity to visit every week if I wanted. I was planning on leaving Kansai eventually. I just wanted it to be on my terms, and unfortunately, it wasn't.
    I joined Interac for the fall semester. The Japanese school year generally starts in April, so this meant that I would be entering halfway through the school year. I didn't think much of this at the time, but it also meant that I only had a six month contract with Interac.
    I'd read online about other people who entered at fall and had no problem, but I also didn't realize that all branches at Interac were run the same. Be sure to read reviews about the branch you'll be placed with and make an informed decision... There's a reason why my former branch was known as the worst branch of Interac.
    Turns out that my branch had a bunch of six month only contracts. Two of the biggest city clients with the branch only wanted ALTs half the year. One of those cities was mine. Of course, the branch doesn't tell any of us any of this, and it only comes to my attention a few months in when my school starts asking me what I'm going to do once the school year ends. I thought I'd be there for the next year, but they told me they only get ALTs for six months. Turns out my predecessor was still around working in Osaka (no longer with Interac) and not back in his home country like I had originally thought.
    So, the end of the contract starts creeping up. It's around mid-February and no one's really heard anything yet. Contracts are over in mid-March so this is the final month countdown. Some of my coworkers email the MC, who says they'll be sending out information soon. We have no choice but to wait, really.
    By now, it's late February and a handful of people know about their new placements. Most people get to stay in the same BoE but change schools, some people are moved to a different area, and some people are sent to rural nowhere. But not me or my partner. We don't know anything yet, and we have half a month until we're out of a job.
    Finally, I get tired of it and I email the MC personally asking what's up. The very same day, I get a response from the MC saying that they don't have a spot for me or my partner anymore. They said the BoE cut funding and they had to make cuts in turn. Now I'm furious because not only are my worst fears confirmed and both of us are jobless come mid-March, but because the email was phrased as though she had known all along!
    Now I had to rush to find a new job, new housing, everything. With like two weeks notice! If they had known from the beginning, they should've told me. It shouldn't have taken me emailing and probing for information for me to find out.
    Anyway, after some back and forth, they offer to put me on an internal transfer list. The branch stresses that I'm not fired, they just don't have a spot for me. I agree to be placed there, and within the week I receive a phone call from my new branch offering me and my partner a position in Yokohama. I accept, and they even offer to reimburse me up to $2,500 in moving expenses because this move wasn't my choice.
    And honestly, I'm glad I moved. Apart from some problems with one of my current schools (to be fair, Interac has been pretty supportive of me), I'm having a really good experience. The difference in organization and professionalism between the two branches is shocking. I'm just upset because of how poorly the whole situation was handled by my former branch.

    I guess the moral of this story is... if you have a six month contract, keep on your branch. Don't assume anything and always get written confirmation. And be prepared for the worst because, as much as I hate to say it, Interac's interest lies in keeping their clients happy over keeping their employees happy.

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