Going to work for the (short, Italian) Man

Last week, I took a job as a technical translator at Nintendo of America. I'll be moving to Redmond, Washington at the end of February, and my family will move out there permanently in June.

While it'll be hard to leave behind my life of relative freedom in sunny, laid-back Okinawa for the corporate world in rainy Washington, I'm actually really excited about this move. Firstly, it's like this job was made for someone with my somewhat unusual combination of programming and translation skills. There will also be a lot of opportunities to learn, both from daily interaction with hardware and software engineers, to working alongside veteran translators. Among Nintendo's many benefits, they also have a tuition reimbursement program and encourage employees to take higher degrees.

One of the main problems I've faced working alone, without even many colleagues around to talk with in real life, is that I've found it hard to grow professionally. Sure, I can get better at what I'm already doing, but branching out and learning new things is a challenge. I turned 40 last year, and that got me thinking that I'm not done learning, so the offer from Nintendo came at just the right time.

It will also be good to live in the US for a while. My son is half American, but he's lived 12 of his nearly 13 years in Japan; it will be good for him to live in the US for a while, and it will prepare him for university there if that's what he decides to do. My wife is also ready to live in the US for a while, although of course there are many things we're going to miss about Japan (and especially Okinawa).

Coming right at the age of 40, it's struck me that maybe this is my own mid-life crisis — but at least taking a new job is a milder form of mid-life crisis than some of the men my age I know. Heck, I didn't even go buy a Harley. :)

22 comments to Going to work for the (short, Italian) Man

  • Catlingual

    Congratulations Ryan! How exciting for you all. Looking forward to hearing more about it on here.

    Best of Luck and we all know they got the best man for the job!

  • Wataru Tenga

    Way to go, Ryan, and good luck in your new life. It does sound like a bit of adjustment is in store for the family.

  • Congratulations! If it takes a mid-life crisis for us to be brave and try out new directions in life, then so be it. I’m sure you’re going to have lots of fun. But don’t forget to blog about the experience. :-)

  • Arline Lyons

    Congratulations! I know that NoA have some great translators, technical and games, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy working there. Look forward to hearing about it! Hope you enjoy life in Washington.

  • Congratulations, Ryan! I hope this is a positive move for you and your family. I think you will be a very successful translator at Nintendo. They are lucky to have you!

  • Nick C

    I used to live in Seattle (now San Francisco) and I know a guy who a few years back had that exact same position at NOA you are taking, but quit it to be a freelancer(!). One man’s shackle is another man’s ticket to paradise, I guess. I would imagine they were shocked to have a candidate as strong as you apply and accept. Be sure to negotiate a fat raise very soon as they will find you difficult to replace!

    And FWIW after living there for 3-4 years I can say Seattle is probably the easiest place in the entire US you could possibly move to with a Japanese family. Based on what I’ve seen here of your positive attitude and intelligence, I’m sure it’ll go well. :)

    Here’s a link to your new boss: http://bit.ly/e6EHuU

  • Congrats, Ryan. Say hi to John Zimet for me. And I guess you’ll be at IJET…?

  • @Adam

    What a coincidence that IJET is going to be in Seattle this year! I actually might not be able to go, because I’m planning to head back to Japan in May for a month to move out my family.

  • Thanks for the well wishes, everyone.

    @ Nick C

    Funnily, they offered me freelance work a couple (few?) years ago, but it didn’t work out. The in-house offer was actually more attractive to me. The fact that John Zimet is there was one of the factors.

  • Kevin Kirton

    Nintendo is lucky to get you, Ryan. You are perfect for the job. With your proven programming skills and obvious knowledge and feel for good language (English and Japanese), you’ll be turning heads in Mario-Land.

  • @Kevin

    Thanks! By the way, they had no problem with me keeping my software, so I’ll be able to keep developing that. As you might imagine, that was important to me.

  • Lindsey

    Congratulations on your new job! That sounds really awesome.

    I just found your blog, and I’m really excited about reading your past stuff – I’m an American in the IT business in Tokyo but I’d like to get into translation. I also lived in Okinawa for a while and my fiance is Okinawan. :D

    I’ve done a few freelance translation jobs, but unsure at this point about the legal stuff, taxes, etc. So I’m research mode right now. Thanks for the interesting site, look forward to perusing it.

    Good luck on relocating back to the US! I’m sure your family will adjust quickly and have a lot of fun!

  • What a great move, Ryan. Next year it will be 20 years that I moved from Tokyo to Washington state, albeit to the eastern, not so rainy side. Our daughter was about to start school and that was one of the reasons for our move. It was hard to leave Tokyo behind, but it has been a great 20 years. Enjoy the change!

  • Hi Ryan, For me its a least expected move, but you know least expected moves generally brings fortune. You already have a great combi of Software + Japanese, for sure you are going to do better in NoA. I hope you won’t forget updating your blog (after getting busy in your corporate life !!). Best of luck to you !

  • Hi Ryan, I’m one of your future coworkers at NOA. We’re all really happy to hear you decided to join our team! I agree with the other commenters that the job will be a great fit for your unique background. Maybe John told you already, but several of your tools and scripts (FindNextJ, CountAnything, and Align Assist) have come in really handy in our department, so kudos for making such useful (and free) software available. Hope you are interested in helping code for us as well as translate!

  • Noo

    Wow! Congratulations Ryan! I was hoping to invite you to a bbq(s) this summer – I finally found an 一軒家 in Naha, but it looks like you will be in the States. Best wishes for the future and please get in touch any time you are back in Oki!

  • Jason Cormier

    It seems that every time I get back to Japan for a visit, you’ve moved further away. Hope the move went well for the family.

  • @Jason — At least I’m closer to Canada now. Hope you have a nice trip back.

  • Congratulations on your exciting new venture, Ryan. Wishing you and your family all the very best with the move, and looking forward to reading about it over the coming months.

  • Congratulation Ryan, enjoy your work at nintendo and say Hi to Yoshi from me

  • Congratulation :)

    It’s a very good opportunity to work for a company like Nintendo, Ryan.
    It will made a very good line on your curriculum vitae.

    I envy you, it’s a nightmare for me to find a job. In fact, it’s probably due that I live (for personal reason) far from big cities…

  • Hi Formateur. I was also living far from the big cities, in a village in Okinawa called Yomitan. My working at Nintendo of America required a move to the Seattle area. Fortunately for me, I’ve found this area to be very liveable, although of course a more rural area would be better. For some reason, big companies don’t like to locate in the country. :)

    I still feel very fortunate that Nintendo is not located in Silicon Valley, though (I actually would have refused the offer if it had been).

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