I'm Bingran Zha
Product Development Division / SRE
Master of Economics
Chinese / Japanese / English
I'm Bingran Zha
Product Development Division / SRE
Master of Economics
Chinese / Japanese / English
About Bingran Zha
Hi, my name is Bingran Zha. When I was in high school in China, I started to develop my interest in Japanese culture after reading the popular manga “Naruto”. I majored in Japanese during my college years in China. At the beginning of my 3rd year in college, it came across my mind to get a science or engineering related job and also utilizing my Japanese skills that I have cultivated at the same time. That is why I decided to come to Japan and to enter Waseda University’s graduate program to get a master of science degree.
What did you do during college?
Go Outside of the Community
During the first 2 years in college in China, I was a member of the Japanese language club and participated in activities as a vice leader. The role of a vice leader was more like a backseat player. I was actively involved in planning and management for the events within the university community. There are not only Japanese majored students participating in our events but also many students majoring in a variety of fields. Most of the participants in our event could not speak Japanese but they all liked Japanese music, anime and culture. I think there were not many opportunities for me to get to know people from other majors if I was not part of the Japanese language club and hosting such events. I learned so much from communicating with new people from other academic fields during the events and encountered different perspectives. It was a great opportunity for me to broaden my horizons by interacting with people with completely different backgrounds.
During my time at the graduate school in Japan, I mainly focused on academics in my first year then focused on job-hunting in my second year. In my first year, I took many courses to earn credits early and literally spent the whole day from the morning until the library closed at 8 pm. I had to study so hard and catch up on my own because I majored in Economic Theory which is a science / engineer related major that is probably the closest to other B.A. majors. I did not have a prior special knowledge in mathematics, so it would have been too difficult if I had chosen another science / engineer related major which requires physics and all.
What I wish I Had Done during College
I wish I had more opportunities to talk in public during the college years. Communicating with my friends in Japanese on a daily basis helped me to improve my Japanese but I think if I could have had more opportunities to talk in front of many people, they would have been great chances to get used to talking in public. I often talk in front of people at my workplace but there are times when I feel like the audience is not getting what I really want to tell them because I easily get nervous when I speak in front of a group of people. In order to get used to those kinds of situations, I would definitely try to have as many experiences of talking in front of people as possible if I could go back to college.
What career advice would you recommend for job hunters?
Internship is the Key to Deepen Your Understanding towards Companies
This advice is something I learned after I started working at GA technologies and became the host of internships. Participating in internships is very beneficial for job-hunting students but I could not do any internships at all when I was a job-hunting student because I started the job-hunting process in late April of my second year at the Waseda graduate school. Participating in a variety of internships can provide you great opportunities to distinguish your field of interests as well as to understand each company’s characteristics. You can also communicate with the employees of the company during internship so it is a great opportunity to get to know your potential bosses. After understanding the characteristics of the company by joining internships, you can grasp the necessary skills to actually work at a certain company so you can get a head start and start preparing for the selection process. There are internships where you can even get a job offer if you perform well so that should be attractive for job-hunting students. There are many beneficial points for job-hunters to participate in internships so I recommend students to actively participate in all different kinds of internships.
What are the beneficial skills needed for working in Japan?
Get Out of Comfort Zone
I think the most important skill to work in Japan is the communication skill in Japanese. This skill is especially important for international students because if you want to introduce or express yourself, you need to be able to properly communicate in Japanese. I was studying Japanese for 4 years when I was in college but I did not need to speak in Japanese on a daily basis because I lived in China. However, I had to speak in Japanese not only inside the class but also outside of the class since I started studying at Waseda University. For example, when there was something I did not understand in class, I had to ask my classmates the question in Japanese. Putting myself in an environment where I had to use Japanese all the time helped me to quickly improve my Japanese and I started to be able to communicate smoothly in Japanese. I think the best way to boost your communication skill is to step out of your comfort zone. In my case, stepping out of my comfort zone was to go to Japanese university where I had no other choice but to keep improving my Japanese.
In the real working field, not many people work on projects individually but as a team most of the time. When there are new employees to the company, you will be asked to take a role as a mentor and to become a bridge between the boss and the new employees so the communication between them goes smoothly. There are many other situations where your Japanese communication skill will be required if you work in japan. I personally think that good communication with the team members creates good relationships and improves productivity among the team compared to just focusing on improving hard-skills.
Look at the Bigger Picture
As a project gets close to the end, team members tend to spend more time on fixing small details. As members of the team start to focus on small details, each member’s operation can sometimes deviate from the original purpose of the project and eventually stray from the company’s policy. I am not saying that fixing small details at the final phase of a project is unnecessary but always looking at the bigger picture by taking a step back to keep the project on the right track is as important as focusing on small details. When there is already a gap between the original goal and the operation, the ability to fix the gap is also essential. Another important ability is to not mix purpose and method when you work on projects. What I mean by that is to choose method in order to achieve the purpose and not choosing method before setting the final purpose of the project. If choosing a method comes before setting the final goal, people can easily get stuck on small details and tend to become unable to take a step back to see the bigger picture of the project. Ability to overview the project and to understand the difference between method and purpose while driving the project are the important aspects of work.
I always care about those aspects at work and my development team recently received the best product award within the company for the product my team had been working on since 2018. I am sure that we received this award because we worked as a team and always tried to look at the bigger picture. I had a series of discussions with my boss to make the product better and I am very happy about the result of receiving the award.
What does a Product Development Division / SRE Do?
There are 40 members in the development division and there are 4 members in the Product Development Division SRE team including myself. The other members of my team are Japanese. Our division is mainly in charge of automation and structuralization for implementing the internal system which other development divisions developed. We are also involved in automation and visualization of logos of the company so I think our team has a wide range of work.
Work Environment GA technologies
Casual Interaction with Engaging Team Members
My first favorite feature of GA technologies is the office. All the employees work on the same floor so it is easy to communicate with people from other divisions. I think employees at GA technologies are very active in communication and it is because of the fluid structure of the office. There is an aisle in the middle of the floor so all the employees need to go through it to get to the destination. This structure provides employees to interact with each other so employees are close to each other at GA technologies. Also, the office is open space so my boss can be always around to support me and even the CEO works everywhere in the office. We often need to work with multiple other departments so this open space office makes it easier to contact other divisions and to set a meeting.
I was starting my 4th year at GA technologies in May 2020 and I thought it was the appropriate timing to use the internal recruitment system for division transfer. I used the system to change my division because I always wanted to grow as a person in a new field and also the Product Development Division SRE was always my interest. I knew it was going to be hard to learn new things in the completely new division after the transfer but I also knew that gaining knowledge in the new field will be beneficial for myself. I was actually the very first person using the internal recruitment system for division transfer and the company responded to me very quickly. I had to prepare for the transfer only one week after submitting the application and I was already at the interview two weeks after the submission. I think GA technologies respond and reflect on employees requests very quickly and this flexible corporate culture is one of the strong points of the company.
Recommended Job-hunting Resource
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