Game Changers of Japan: How to Change Careers in Japan
We interviewed Ms. Wu Yi Ping, an international student who has been working at INBOUND LEAGUE for one year. INBOUND LEAGUE is one of the rental offices of UDS corporation. In a Japanese company’s rental office, Wu was fascinated with the vast amount of both domestic and overseas business users.
By: Yuejiao An | Translation: Abbey Kruska | Published date: September 26th, 2019
Ms. Wu’s profile
The Dream Job
Meet Ms. Wu, an ex-international student from China who made the decision after graduation to pursue a career in Japan.
In a culture of lifetime employment, Ms. Wu represents the few who choose to change jobs mid-career. We were able to sit down with her in her new workplace at the UDS Corporation, and ask her a few questions about her life and job hunting experience.
Ms. Wu has been working for UDS corporation — an innovative architecture firm — for less than a year, but since starting at UDS she has become more independent, is able to meet new people every day, and participate in a challenging and rewarding working environment. She enjoys fashion and design, and the innovative and artistic designs of UDS' buildings suit her tastes. It may seem as though working for UDS would be Ms. Wu's dream job, but it's actually her second time finding her "dream job".
Doing an Internship in Japan
When Wu was in university, she completed a 2 week long internship at a company called Yamada Consulting. The main job of the company is performing strategic planning for small-mid size firms.
Wu says,“I was able to participate in a group project simulation, and I also did my own presentation at the end. In this short time, I was able to understand more or less how the company worked. I also understood a bit more about what kind of work would suit me the most.”
However, she hadn’t understood just how short Japan’s short-term internships really are. Wu tells us that, "In only 2 weeks, it’s nearly impossible to know if you really want to work at that company or not. If it’s a longer internship, you have a better chance of knowing whether or not that company suits you or not. It also makes it easier to decide whether you want to join that company or not."
Q: Where did you find this internship?
A: I think I found it at goodfind. When I looked for an internship, I used that website a lot.
Job-hunting in Japan
Even when job-hunting, you don't have to apply to that many companies.
Thanks to her study abroad experience in Japan, Ms. Wu was able to slowly adjust and grow to like the Japanese culture. Because of that, after she graduated university she decided to pursue work at a Japanese company.
“On one hand, I really wanted to learn about Japanese work culture on a deeper scale. I wanted to get more experience in a Japanese professional work environment."
When job-hunting season came around, Ms. Wu did things the same as her Japanese peers, participating in a number of traditional setsumeikai (company briefings prior to interviews). “When Japanese companies are selecting applicants, they don’t care whether you’re an exchange student or not. They’re looking at your skills. But, if you’re good at Japanese, that will also be a point of interest,” she explains.
As for the entry sheet, she had a distinct goal in mind, and applied/interviewed only with companies she wanted to work for. There are many students who apply for as many companies as possible, but that’s not efficient.
Ms. Wu says, “I set a goal for myself, decided on a few companies I wanted to apply to, and sent my entry sheets to them.” She initially applied to 10 companies to only ten companies, but was almost immediately given an offer, so she saw no further need to apply.This way of applying is completely different from Japanese students.
When she first started job-hunting, Ms. Wu knew that the large group Taiyo Holdings’application process was faster than others. She also knew it was a good company, and came well prepared, having several interviews, and was able to pass with no trouble. With this, she had more confidence going into her next interview. She received offers from several companies, but in the end she chose to go back to the first company to offer her a position, Taiyo Holdings.
When asked if she would have gone back home to work if she hadn’t found a job in Japan, she answered, “actually, I’d have less luck at home.” The Japanese economy and industry is growing at an astounding rate, and due to the labor shortage there are many open positions, the issue was not whether she could find work, but whether she could find work that she enjoyed or not.
Following your PAssion
Ms. Wu worked at Taiyo Holdings for over two years, becoming very close with her colleagues, and gaining a lot of business know-how. Still, when she thought about the type of person she wanted to become in the future, she realized that her work at Taiyo Holdings was not really the work she had wanted to do.
“If I can’t find work at a different company before I’m 30, there won’t be many more chances”she thought, and set out on her second job-hunting journey. This time, she was able to find a company that really suited her as an individual.
"The pattern of work is completely different."
We asked her what the big differences were between the two companies, and she explained that though the atmosphere was good and her colleagues at both companies were friendly, the pattern of work was completely different.
Japan's Large Firms vs Venture Companies
Her first company had a pyramid business model in which demands from the higher-ups were passed down to lower-ranking works, whereas in her new company you make your own proposals and plan yourself to achieve your goals. She was able to think and act on her own, communicate with other company members, and utilize her own inspiration and ideas. A lot of pressure comes with a full-fledged job like this, but according to Wu, it's a positive pressure that creates continuous progress.
There are many differences between large firms and venture companies:
Final words for those job-hunting in Japan
“Internships are important. Japanese internships tend to be short, but you can find long-term internships as well. If you can get a long-term internship, you can really understand how Japanese companies work, and what kind of work suits you as an individual.”
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