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Networking Tips for Interns in Japan

Get ready to network!

Networking is a crucial skill for career growth, providing opportunities for learning, mentorship, and job advancement. For interns in Japan, building a professional network can be particularly beneficial, opening doors to unique cultural and professional experiences. It is also one of the best ways to find a job. However, navigating the networking landscape in Japan requires understanding the local business culture and effective strategies to make meaningful connections. Business etiquette in Japan is much more different than what you might be used to. Japan might also be one of the strictest business and professional environments in the world so it is important to be prepared! Let's get ready!

Understanding Japanese Business Culture

Japan's business culture is distinct and deeply rooted in its societal values. Key aspects include respect, hierarchy, and formality. In professional settings, it is essential to show respect to all colleagues, particularly senior members, through polite language and gestures. You have the so-called “Keigo” in the Japanese language, meaning honorific language used to clients, bosses and anyone senior to your age. Quite stressful if you ask us!
Did you know even native Japanese speakers mess up Keigo? There are special seminars you can attend to learn about this - many companies send their rookie employees to these seminars to brush up their honorific language skills (there’s a whole profit-making industry that’s just for this!).

Understanding the hierarchy is also crucial, as Japanese companies often have well-defined structures, and knowing your place within this can aid in interactions.

Effective communication in Japan involves being attentive, listening more than speaking, and being mindful of non-verbal cues. It's also important to be punctual, dress appropriately, and exchange business cards (meishi) with both hands, presenting the card with the text facing the recipient.
That’s a lot of things in a short paragraph! We have your back - all interns joining our program will receive a crash course on Japanese business etiquette making sure you’ll leave an impression!

Let’s review some strategies. 

Strategies for Building a Professional Network

  1. Leveraging Social Media and Professional Networking Platforms
    • Platforms like LinkedIn, BizReach, and Wantedly are valuable tools for connecting with professionals in Japan. LinkedIn is globally recognized, while BizReach and Wantedly are more localized and cater specifically to the Japanese job market.

  2. Participating in Industry-Specific Events and Meetups
    • Attend events relevant to your field. These can be found through online platforms or let us know what you’re interested in and we’ll help you out. Regular participation helps build visibility and familiarity with industry professionals.

  3. Utilizing University and Internship Program Connections
    • Universities and internship programs often have established networks. Attend their networking events, join alumni associations, and seek introductions from professors or mentors.

Making the Most of Networking Events

  1. Preparation
    • Research the event and its attendees. Set specific goals for what you want to achieve. Prepare a personal pitch that succinctly describes who you are, what you do, and what you are looking for.

  2. During the Event
    • Approach people with confidence, introduce yourself, and engage in meaningful conversations. Show genuine interest in others’ work and experiences. Exchange business cards respectfully and appropriately.

  3. Follow-Up
    • After the event, send thank-you emails to those you met. Connect on LinkedIn to maintain the relationship and continue engaging with their content and updates.

Overcoming Common Challenges

  1. Language Barriers
    • Learning basic Japanese phrases can be very helpful. Many professionals in Japan understand English, but making an effort to speak Japanese can show respect and build rapport.

  2. Cultural Misunderstandings
    • Take time to learn about Japanese culture and etiquette. Being aware of cultural norms can prevent misunderstandings and help you navigate professional settings more effectively.

  3. Building Confidence as an Intern
    • Remember that internships are learning experiences. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek guidance. Participating in mentorship programs can also boost your confidence and provide valuable insights.

How Zentern Can Help

At Zentern, we specialize in arranging internships in Japan for students and young professionals currently living outside of Japan. Our comprehensive services are designed to support interns at every stage of their journey:

  • Mentorship Programs: Connect with experienced professionals who can provide guidance and advice.
  • Guest Speakers and Networking Events: Attend events featuring industry leaders and expand your network.
  • Language and Emergency Support: Receive help with language barriers and any emergencies that may arise.
  • Interview Prep Support: Get assistance with preparing for interviews to increase your chances of success.

We pride ourselves on offering the best connections in Japan, more affordable pricing, and superior service and attention. Our goal is not only to organize internships but to empower our interns by providing support whenever needed.


"I had a wonderful time with Zentern! This was my first time to Japan, and I interned at a finance company in Tokyo. Japan has so much to offer, and if you get the chance to apply, just do it! I've had an experience of a lifetime!"

  • Maria, Canada
Our Zentern, Maria from Canada!


Networking is an essential skill for interns in Japan, offering numerous opportunities for career growth and personal development. By understanding Japanese business culture, employing effective networking strategies, and overcoming common challenges, you can build a strong professional network. At Zentern, we are here to support you every step of the way. Contact us to get an internship in Japan and start your journey today!