Working in Japan? The view from an American intern

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Hi Everyone! Today I’ll be talking about working in Japan and what I took away from that experience. I was an accounting intern for only the summer of 2017, however, I worked in Tokyo for a traditional Japanese company.

I’ve always known I would pursue a career in Japanese one day, but before interning for Teraoka Seiko, I really didn’t have much of an idea on what exactly I wanted to do. My internship was a short one, only lasting about three months, but I felt like I learned so much there than any previous job that I had before. My encounters there actually led me to further my passions in Japanese at ICU. My boss and coworkers were absolutely fantastic. They took me along on “business trips”, but in actuality these trips were used to expose me to more of Japan’s culture. I was able to go to Kamakura to see the Daibutsu, a giant bronze statue of Buddha, in addition to Yokohama, where I rode my first Japanese rollercoaster.

With all of these once in a life time experiences, I’m eternally grateful to Teraoka Seiko. With this being said, I found myself realizing that I did not want to work for a traditional Japanese company in the future. The main reason for this was the fact that my coworkers worked for so long. As an outsider, it seemed as if it was a cultural norm to work 12+ hours a day in Japan and I couldn’t see myself getting into that kind of environment.

Despite this, the most important thing I got from my internship was the realization that I still want to pursue a career related in Japanese; however, I think that I would personally work best in a global environment–specifically a Japanese-American one. If I had the choose where I would want to work in the future, I don’t think I would be able to decide between Japan or America. Therefor, I’d like to work for a company that would allow me to travel between the two countries.

In order to do so, this would mean that I would not only have to increase my fluency level in Japanese, but in addition to this, I have to be able to find a balance between the two completely different work cultures. At this point of my life, I’ve already accomplished most of what I wanted to get out of my study abroad in Japan. The first being able to pass the JLPT N3 exam and (hopefully) the N2 exam.

Being able to find the middle ground between Japan’s rigid work culture and America’s more laid back approach will definitely come with hardships, but I truly believe that ICU has provided me with the foregrounds to do so. Through ICU’s international approach, students are able to communicate both in Japanese and English. I’m able to gain a first hand experience on how these two seemingly contrasting cultures are able to blend together. One of my greatest abilities I’ve notice ever since I started living in Japan is my ability to connect with both foreigners and native speakers, and I think that this will play a pivotal role in my future endeavors.

Growing up, my life consisted of finding a balance between my asian heritage with also my American Identity. and this has played a huge part in my study abroad. As I further continue through my last three months at ICU, I hope not only to further my fluency, but most importantly make more connections from both sides of the globe. Doing so will not only make strides towards my professional career, but will allow me to become more global/open minded.


My Teraoka Seiko Family.