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How to Make the Most of Your Internship in Japan

Start your career in Japan!

Interning in Japan is a unique opportunity that offers a blend of professional growth and cultural immersion. Experience Japan's rich culture and dynamic business environment. It's a great place for students and young professionals to build more work experience and design the life you're looking for!
Getting an internship in Japan is just the beginning, the fun stuff starts when you're here! We'll explain a bit on how to make the most of your internship in Japan in this article.

Did you know that your internship placement is guaranteed when you sign up to our program? That's right, once signed up. you can rest assure that you'll be coming to Japan!

Crossing in Tokyo

Preparing for Your Internship

To hit the ground running, preparation is key. Start by thoroughly researching the company you'll be interning with and gaining a basic understanding of the industry. Familiarize yourself with essential Japanese phrases and cultural norms, as this will help you navigate daily interactions and show respect for your hosts.
Japan is a gift-giving county (is that a word?) so don't hesitate to bring souvenirs or famous food from your country to share with your new co-workers; it's one of the best ways to break the ice!

Understanding the requirements and deadlines will save you from last-minute stress and allow you to focus on your professional goals. Additionally, consider what to pack for your stay. Bring professional attire suitable for the workplace, personal items that remind you of home, and any necessary electronics with the appropriate adapters.
Being well-prepared also means understanding the local geography and transportation system. Japan's public transportation is highly efficient but can be overwhelming initially. Familiarize yourself with the routes you'll be using daily, such as the subway or bus lines. Downloading useful apps and maps can be a lifesaver during your first few weeks.
Google Maps for example. is a great tool. Don't forget to dowlnoad the map of Tokyo on your Google Maps!

Cultural Adaptation and Etiquette

Japan's workplace culture is distinct and may differ significantly from what you're used to. Punctuality is paramount, so always arrive on time. Dress codes tend to be conservative; when in doubt, opt for business formal attire. Communication in Japan often involves reading between the lines, so pay attention to non-verbal cues and be respectful in your interactions. Let me give you an example: your coworkers will never say: "Close the window, please". They'll hint it: "It's getting quite chilly here...".

Respect for hierarchy and teamwork are deeply ingrained in Japanese workplaces. Acknowledge the experience and seniority of your colleagues, and always be willing to collaborate and contribute to the team. Outside the workplace, social norms are equally important. Understanding concepts like "omotenashi" (hospitality) and "meiwaku" (not causing inconvenience to others) will help you navigate social interactions more smoothly.

Additionally, it's essential to adapt to the subtle nuances of Japanese communication. Bowing is a common gesture used in greetings, expressing gratitude, and making apologies. The depth and duration of the bow can convey different levels of respect. Moreover, understanding the importance of business cards ("meishi") and how to exchange them properly can leave a lasting positive impression.
You'll learn more about this during our orientation session at the Zentern office.

Japanese greet by bowing to each other.

Maximizing Professional Development

Set clear, achievable goals with your supervisor at the start of your internship. Be proactive in seeking feedback and taking on tasks that challenge you. This is your chance to develop new skills and gain insights into your chosen field. Many Japanese companies offer training and development opportunities; take full advantage of these to enhance your professional skill set.

Networking is crucial. Build relationships with your colleagues and other professionals in the industry. Attend company events, join professional groups, and don't be afraid to ask questions and share your ideas. Networking in Japan often involves socializing outside of work hours, so be prepared to engage in after-work activities like dinners or karaoke (singing skills don't matter, you'll be surprised how the always-quiet Tanaka-san will go wild during karaoke).

Document your progress and achievements regularly. Keeping a journal or digital log of your daily tasks, feedback, and accomplishments can help you reflect on your growth and prepare for performance reviews. This practice also provides concrete examples to include in your resume and during job interviews. We strongly recommend this.

Exploring Japan

While your internship is the primary focus, take time to explore Japan. Visit iconic places like Tokyo Tower, Kyoto's temples, and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Immerse yourself in local culture by trying traditional cuisine, attending festivals, and exploring different regions.
Balancing work with leisure will enrich your experience. Use public transportation to get around efficiently, and don't hesitate to ask locals for recommendations. Participating in local events and festivals will give you deeper insights into Japanese culture and provide memorable experiences.
Moreover, weekend trips to nearby cities and rural areas can offer a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Experiencing the natural beauty of Japan, such as Mount Fuji, hot springs ("onsen"), and the picturesque landscapes of Hokkaido, can be incredibly rewarding.

Building a Professional Network

Networking in Japan is vital for professional growth. Building a strong professional network can open doors to future opportunities. Attend industry conferences, networking events, and join professional organizations. Be sure to exchange business cards ("meishi") appropriately, as this is a key part of Japanese business etiquette.
Maintain your relationships by staying in touch with contacts you make. Send follow-up emails, connect on LinkedIn, and attend industry events to keep your network active. Leveraging social media and professional platforms can help you stay connected and informed about industry trends and opportunities.
Understanding the importance of "nemawashi," an informal process of laying the groundwork for a project or decision through behind-the-scenes discussions, can be invaluable. Building consensus and gaining support before presenting ideas formally can significantly enhance your effectiveness in a Japanese business setting.

Leveraging Your Internship Experience

At the end of your internship, reflect on what you've learned and how you've grown. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile to highlight your achievements and the skills you've acquired. Stay connected with your contacts and mentors, as these relationships can be invaluable for future opportunities.
Make sure you obtain references and a reference letter.

Use your internship experience to stand out in job applications. Highlight specific projects you worked on, skills you developed, and how you adapted to a different culture. This demonstrates your ability to handle diverse environments and challenges.
Additionally, consider writing a detailed report or a personal blog about your internship experience. Sharing your journey and insights can help solidify your learning, provide a portfolio piece, and inspire others considering similar paths.

What can Zentern do for you?

Our agency guarantees internship placements, ensuring that your career gets a significant boost. With strong ties to local companies, we offer better matching and comprehensive support services. Our programs are flexible and competitively priced, making us one of the best options for your internship needs. Plus, our after-care services ensure you continue to benefit from the experience long after the internship ends.

We have a proven track record of success stories and testimonials from past interns who have gone on to achieve great things in their careers. Our dedicated team is here to support you every step of the way, from application to completion and beyond.

Choosing us means choosing a partner committed to your success. We provide orientation sessions to help you acclimate to your new environment, regular check-ins to ensure your internship is progressing well, and a network of alumni who can offer advice and support.
Interning in Japan can be a life-changing experience, providing you with professional development and cultural insights. By preparing well, embracing the culture, and leveraging the experience, you can make the most of your time in Japan.
Apply to our program today and take the first step towards a transformative journey!