Doing an internship during your undergraduate degree can provide the practical experience that will help you get a head start on your career. Internships are becoming an increasingly popular concept in Japan, and both Japanese companies and multinational companies in Japan are offering many internship opportunities to students. The iCLA Career Support Team assists students in achieving their career goals. The team informs students of internship opportunities in Japan, and also provides career advising sessions. Students are also encouraged to search for internships that fit their career interests.
4th year Global Business and Economics major Liina recently undertook an internship with the multinational company, Bosch, at their Japan office located in Tokyo. We interviewed Liina about her internship experience at Bosch Japan.
First, can you tell us what your position is at Bosch, what are your responsibilities, and what about the position attracted you to apply?
Liina: I work at the Cross Domain Computing Solutions department as a software sales intern. The department is fairly new, and in the Japan team we only have 3 associates and 3 interns, which means that us interns have a rather wide range of different tasks and a lot of freedom. I am mostly responsible for providing market research to the full-time employees in the form of Excel sheets and PowerPoint presentations. My team of interns also plans and facilitates events to educate the employees of Bosch about digitalization and its effects to the company. Lastly, we also currently have a product development project (the product is still a secret 😉). I initially applied because the posting and the way it was written seemed very friendly and instead of having strict requirements for the applicant, it had more like “nice to haves”. Also, the language requirement was intermediate which felt comfortable to me at the time.
What has the internship experience been like so far?
Liina: The team that I work at is quite small, but everyone is very nice and treats us interns as coworkers instead of “helpers”, which can sometimes be the case. Us interns have a lot of freedom to design our own project, which has been great for skills such as leadership and planning, which are desirable when applying to full-time positions. Also, we conduct meetings in either English or Japanese depending on who is participating, but currently there are only Japanese employees in the team, so I have had many great opportunities to practice my business Japanese. Overall, the experience has been very exciting each day and due to flexible work times and many different tasks every workday is different, which motivates me.
Can you tell us a way in which you applied your learning at iCLA to your work at Bosch?
Liina: I have found many different skills gained from iCLA useful throughout the internship. One of the important ones is of course Japanese, and especially courses like Socio-Cultural Communication for Keigo and workplace language and Current Issues for reading research material such as news. Other than that, since I have a quite wide range of different tasks, I have on many occasions been glad I participated in classes like Marketing, International Business, Corporate Finance and many more. Additionally, some non-course related skills include for example intercultural communication, as Bosch has employees from all over the world and I frequently communicate with employees from countries other than the Japan office. Overall, it has been a great opportunity to practice the many theoretical skills the university has provided me in the real business environment.
Finally, do you have any tips for other students looking to do an internship in Japan?
Liina: It can be difficult to find an internship if you don’t speak Japanese, so studying hard and improving language ability is important. However, by no means you need to be a native-level speaker. I had not even passed N2 yet when I got selected. Additionally, there are usually a lot of applicants, so I suggest reviewing your resume and checking if you are providing all the information about your best points that you want them to know. The professors responsible for career planning at iCLA can help with this. As for the best places for finding an internship, I found mine from LinkedIn, but there are other job boards too such as Indeed or Glassdoor. If you want, it is never a bad idea to reach out directly to a company you find interesting and ask about opportunities.