04 Aug Tokyo Internships Demystified: Your Professional Growth in Japan
So you’re looking for some adventure in your summer internship, huh? You want to grow in your professional career while also gaining priceless experience with new cultures that will change you forever? Well, we have the perfect opportunity for you! It can be daunting to find an internship in the country and city of your dreams, especially if you aren’t sure where to start. That’s where we come in. In this article, we will break down some of the initial questions surrounding interning in the globe’s hottest epicenters for business and innovation – Tokyo! Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is not only a vibrant metropolis but also a thriving hub for global business and entrepreneurship. For interns looking to be immersed in culture while gaining valuable work experience, Tokyo presents the perfect opportunity. We will demystify the intimidating task of finding the right internship in Tokyo for you, while preparing you culturally in order to have the best Tokyo internship ever.
Tokyo offers a unique blend of tradition and modernity, making it a magnet for global interning talent. A Tokyo internship provides interns with tons of industries to choose from. From finance and technology to fashion and even media, if you can dream it, it exists in Tokyo. The city serves as headquarters to numerous massive and global corporations, providing you with unparalleled exposure to a dynamic business climate. Not to mention, Japan’s working culture emphasizes discipline, attention to details, and a healthy respect for hierarchy. All of these traits can be great for a fresh intern to learn early on in their careers!
Not only is Tokyo a wonderful place to start your professional career, but it also is a life-changing city to explore off the clock. For history buffs and nightclub enthusiasts alike, Tokyo has a little something for everyone to devour. Not to mention, the food in Tokyo is some of the world’s very best, so you don’t need to worry about going hungry.
What Will I Gain?
When contemplating a Tokyo internship, it’s only natural for the intern to wonder, what will I really get out of this experience? There’s plenty! To start, you’ll naturally begin to pick up some of the language. While Tokyo has a plethora of English speakers, you’ll be immersed in the language being spoken around you, on street signs, and even on the food you eat. Being in the space where the language you are trying to learn is regularly being spoken enables you to learn the language significantly quicker than if you were using Duolingo back in the US on your phone.
You’ll also grow to learn Japanese etiquette firsthand, something that is very different from that of more western cultures. In several Asian cultures, the importance of workplace hierarchies is extremely heightened, making it critical that you learn it early on. Bowing, exchanging business cards (also called meishi), and wearing conservative clothing are all near and dear to Tokyo’s work culture. While you may experience fewer of these old school values if you work for a more modern company for your Tokyo internship, it is still a fascinating aspect of culture that you don’t want to miss experiencing.
Work ethic is also unique in Tokyo, as it tends to follow traditional Japanese values. You’ll notice they emphasize punctuality, teamwork, and diligence. This is a great time in your career to master these traits, especially as a Tokyo intern. While we tend to hold them in lower regard in the West, these are all important skills for any job, and the sooner you earn them, the better off you’ll be in your career.
Aside from the things you’ll earn for your professional life from your Tokyo internship, you’ll also gain a plethora of cultural experience. Take advantage of your time outside of work to explore the city, try local cuisine, attend traditional festivals, and engage with the vibrant arts and entertainment scene. Embracing the local culture will enrich your overall experience and allow you to return home a more developed individual.
How Can I Thrive?
In order to truly do the best you possibly can during your Tokyo internship, it’s important to decide that you actively want to make the most of your professional experience. Ask questions and engage with your superiors, as well as volunteer for challenging projects and tasks. By demonstrating a willingness to learn, you’ll leave a lasting impression on your colleagues (hello, networking!) that can potentially one day open career doors for you. In general, it’s important to come in with enthusiasm, as that will be greatly respected by your internship.
Speaking of networking, don’t feel as if the cultural divide or perhaps the language barrier means you cannot create lasting and meaningful connections. You absolutely can and should take advantage of your global situation and learn about the jobs and culture of the people around you. Ask someone who is higher up than you to bring you to their favorite restaurant or cafe for lunch and order whatever it is that they do! You’ll learn more about them, while also enriching your own cultural experience, and your effort will surely impress your lunch partner. Tokyo takes networking very seriously, so make sure to study up before you go on the individual etiquette for foreigners. Do your best to attend networking events, industry conferences, and join professional organizations related to your field of interest. Networking can lead to mentorship opportunities, job referrals, and extremely valuable first-hand insights into Japan’s working landscape.
Pro-tip: Ask your connections for feedback frequently. Feedback is an integral part of Tokyo’s work scene, so get familiar with it and reach out. It will greatly impress your colleagues!
Finally, make sure to keep a record of your accomplishments, challenges, and key learnings during your internship. Reflect on your experiences, the skills you acquired, and how the internship helped you learn more about your future career goals. These reflections will be valuable when selecting the field for you someday!