Friday, 18 May 2012

Studying and Working in Japan - An interview with: Michael

Please tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved with Asahi Nihongo.
I recently graduated with a BA in international business from San Diego State University. I have been to Japan a few times, including one year in Oita as a student and three months in Fukuoka as an intern. Towards the end of my internship, the company offered me a full-time position for at least 2-5 years. I really enjoy the Japanese lifestyle and look forward to starting my career here.

What kind of internship or job do you have here in Fukuoka?
I work full-time for a trading company that imports specialty beer from around the world for sale to establishments throughout Japan.

What are you working on at the moment?
One of the main roles I play at the company is as the point of contact for international beer companies. This involves maintaining regular contact with these other companies and help resolve any issues that arise regarding orders. It is when I am able to resolve such issues that I feel most like a vital member of the team.

What is the most interesting task/experience you have had at your job/internship so far?
The most interesting task I have had thus far involved negotiating a resolution to a particularly difficult shipping and payment problem involving one of the overseas beer companies my company regularly works with. Since I was the only native English speaker in the company, I became the main point of contact and mediator between our two companies. The issue was successfully resolved to the benefit of each company.

What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of working in Japan?
For me the most rewarding aspect of having this job is the ability to live on my own, without having to be dependent on anyone else, and the fact that every day is a new adventure. Using the language and mastering Japanese business etiquette are definitely the greatest challenges I face here; I still feel like I have so much to learn.  At the moment, I am preparing for the N2 exam.

What do you want to do in the future and how does this job/internship relate to that goal?
I am still exploring long-term career options, but this current job will prepare me for any future job I may have here in Japan, or anywhere in the world. Regardless, I definitely intend to continue to pursue a career in the field of international business. At this point, I plan to remain with this company for about five years.

Do you have any advice for someone interested in finding a job/internship in Japan?
The best piece of advice I can offer to anyone who wants to work in Japan is to study Japanese as much as possible. The more you know, the better your work experience will be. It’s also important to build a network of people in your own country and Japan who may be able to help you in your job search and adjusting to your new circumstances once you are in Japan.

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