Archive for March 2009




What the business be in Japan

Hello strangers. [Hopefully the haters and ignorant creepers have ventured away from my page.]

Again, I apologize for my lack of updates, but life here in the Land of the Rising Sun is still quite overwhelming. Life is fun, yet frustrating. It is fulfilling, yet discouraging. There will always be the good with the bad. One thing I learned from my nearly half-year stay in Japan is that you can only plan things to a certain extent.

I thought I had it all figured out before I came. I would study abroad in Japan in my final year of university and hopefully be able to jump start an international business career. English is my native tongue, and I have personality for days, not to mention a rather decent resume. Piece of cake, right?

No, not really.

In the past three months, I have discovered how unprepared I am in facing the reality of Japanese businesses. I was so naive and ignorant to think that Japanese business culture could somewhat conform with American business culture, or that maybe business culture throughout the world would be somewhat universal. I thought I could start the job hunt around February 2009, which gives me enough time to play for about one whole semester.

That was my first incorrect misconception. Luckily, I discovered a flier in the International Student Center at my university for a career fair that targeted foreign students. My gut told me to attend, and it’s a good thing my gut was correct. I quickly learned that these career fairs do not happen regularly and frequently like they do in the United States. My Japanese job hunting thus began in Dec. 2008, two months earlier than expected.

Then came the next big shock. I wrongly assumed that these Japanese career fairs would be exactly like what San Diego State has every couple times a semester. Various companies would pitch their tent and students can wander around at their leisure and network accordingly. They do this too in Japan, and additionally, they also provide 30 minute long seminars describing their companies and their job openings. However, it is ALL in Japanese. Now that I look back, it makes sense. Of course it would be in Japanese! I am in Japan for crying out loud. But for some strange reason, I thought that these companies would provide English seminars and English pamphlets. I realized that  Japanese companies who attend job fairs and are looking for “bilingual” students are looking for either native Japanese speakers who can speak a little bit of English, or most definitely English speakers who can speak Japanese at a level much higher than my broken conversational.

As I sat through countless seminars being able to only understand about half of the content, I thought to myself, I may not be able to ask any worthwhile questions because I would come out sounding really stupid, but at least I have my clean cut Alpha Kappa Psi approved resume! As I grasped my last bit of hope, I saw a number of fellow attendees rigorously filling out what turns out to be…a Japanese resume. Yes, I said filling out.

A Japanese resume is quite different from the American resume in many aspects. From what I have learned thus far, a Japanese resume is a blank form which you can purchase in bulk at your university. You have to stick a passport-like picture of yourself in the slot allotted for a picture. You must also write your educational background, sometimes dating back to primary school depending on how “impressive” your school name is. In the United States, your university name could work toward your advantage if you are seeking employment in the medical, law, or political fields. However, in Japan, school names count a lot more in most fields.

An American resume is a brief overview of your professional and educational experiences and you pitch yourself in the interview, whereas a Japanese resume is like writing an entire pitch for yourself on paper. Everything is done extremely systematically. Anything that seems even a slight bit of order creates panic.

This is my perception of Japan thus far, and I always remember that there will be the good and the bad days. As of right now, my original career goals in Japan seem bleak, and at the same time, I have much thinking to do.

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