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An internship is a great way to experience work life in another country, or to improve your knowledge within an area of expertise, and those in Japan are no different. Read on to learn more about internships in Japan that are open not just to locals but international students.
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Interested or considering joining an internship in Japan? Here are some things you should know beforehand:
An internship is offered by companies or organizations for people to experience their workplace temporarily. It is mostly offered to students whose skills and interests align with the job at the company or organization. There is also a chance that it can lead to obtaining a full-time position.
There are a lot of otaku foreigners that move to Japan to start a career, thinking to live the dream life like in anime or manga only to be disillusioned by reality - to be clear, the otaku part isn’t bad, it’s the unrealistic expectations that disappoint people. Though studying in Japan does provide a certain insight into what it’s like to live here, you most likely won’t be studying the rest of your life; if you’re anything like the rest of us ordinary people you’ll be working. Before settling on a decision that you may regret and perhaps find difficult to turn back from, consider an internship in Japan to really get a feel of the work culture here.
Different companies have different work environments, some more flexible than others. If you are worried about whether an organization is the right fit for you, there’s no better way than experiencing it yourself. Familiarize yourself with the flow and atmosphere before making your decision to apply for a permanent position.
Interns get to work with professionals and full-time workers and see them in action. This not only gives interns an opportunity to learn from experienced seniors but to build a network connection with people they might encounter in their professional circles in the future.
Having internship experience listed on your resume or CV shows that you have actual work experience in the relevant field. It also shows personality, that you are passionate and hard worker with a drive to pursue your ambitions.
Most importantly, an internship can help you decide on big life decisions, either to pursue a career, decide that it is not for you and go soul searching for another, or to lock down a career in a particular company.
Having the 3rd largest economy in the whole world, there is a lot to learn from Japan. With many internship opportunities, you can pick one suitable for you. Since Japan is globally competitive, this will give you an upper hand to experience professional level work and improve your skills. Although the work culture in Japan may seem intimidating, it is unique and is a good opportunity for you to embrace diversity as you participate in an internship programme that welcomes both locals and foreigners alike to learn together. Above all else, it can help you decide whether to move forward with your plans of migration to Japan.
Most foreigners, especially students who are on their break from studying, join an internship program during the summer. This is considered as the peak season of internships in Japan so try your luck during this season. But of course, applications start early.
If you're one of those who missed their chances on the summer internship, then there's the winter internship for you. While winter internships are not as many as summer internships, you might still find companies and organizations accepting people during the winter break.
With advancements in technology, most jobs nowadays rely on online platforms to work and internships are no exceptions. With online internships, you can just do it within the comfort of your home.
Paid internships are usually long term internships where you can really get a feel of work life and even contribute to the company’s business. Generally, paid internships have the highest chance of resulting in future employment, if you do well that is.
Most unpaid internships in Japan are short term, allowing you the chance to have a good glimpse of the company. With many thriving companies in Japan, an unpaid short term internship will allow you the opportunity to visit more companies. Not to mention, these types of internships have a different aim - the companies merely wish to offer candidates insight, knowledge, and a little experience of working with them to as many candidates as they can as opposed to using interns as cheap labour (although some do, so look out for those).
Depending on the industry, position, and company, wages may be paid hourly, daily, or performance-based. The average pay for these 3 types of wages are as follows.
• Hourly Wages
Ranges from 1,000 yen to 2,000 yen.
• Daily Wages
Ranges from 5,000 yen to 10,000 yen, depending on hours.
• Performance-based Wages
Ranges from 1,000 yen to 50,000 yen per completed work or contract. Depending on your experience and speed, this may be the best-earning, even beating a regular part-time job. However, these may be rare.
※ 01 Intern Magazine, “What is the average internship compensation/reward?”
Now that you understand what internships are, how they work, and how you would be compensated, you may be wondering where and how to sign-up. Here's where you should be searching for internships:
Internship Agencies are specialized in handling interns, finding opportunities for you, fixing and securing everything that you might need overseas, and even organizing outreach events to build up your skills and interaction with other people. Notable agencies that you should check are The Intern Group, CRCC, and Zentern.
There are job searching sites that offer internships. Some of the advertisements there will offer an internship with visa sponsorship for an international company so make sure to check your chances with sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Indeed, Wantedly, 01 Intern.
If you're a student in Japan, most likely your university will have a career center or office to help you so make sure to ask if your campus offers internships or has partner organizations offering internships.
Cities in Japan like Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka offer employment services for foreigners, especially international students who would like to apply for internships in Japan. Check out sites like the Tokyo Employment Services for Foreigners for internships available.
If you are living abroad or are unfamiliar with Japan, use legitimate sources to avoid scam internships or fake positions that may extort you for free labour, cheap labour, or worse. Go through a Japanese Embassy, a Chamber of Commerce, or even a university that will connect you with legitimate organizations.
Due to the popularity of internships, organizations can take their pick of the best candidates with strict screening processes. Here is a general idea of how the process goes.
Apply for an internship of your choice. This part is similar to a job application, where you may even have to submit a proper resume and proof of your education background. Japanese resumes often require a photo, so having a professional photo prepared is advised.
2. Screening and Interview
The organization will screen through your application. If they find you suitable, they will invite you for an interview. Prepare for the interview beforehand by studying about the organization, their company mission and goals, latest achievements, internship programme, your expected responsibilities, and etc. While it is not always a requirement, it would be an advantage to have at least basic conversational level Japanese.
3. Final Evaluation and Results
A final evaluation will be held to review the applicant’s application and interview performance. The company or organization will make a final decision and release the results. If you used an agency or any third party for your application, they will inform you of the results.
Once you pass, a contract which lists the terms and conditions of the internship will be released to you. Review it carefully, and sign if you are in agreement. It's only a matter of time now till you start your internship.
A paid long term internship may have stricter screening processes. Also, pay attention to application deadlines. If you miss them, you’re going to have to wait for the next batch.
With so many internships to choose from, how do you decide? Here are some things you should consider:
• Your Skills and Qualities
Whilst you’re picking an internship, the internship organizer also picks you. Your skills and qualities are a huge factor that will affect your successful application. Of course, there are internships that don’t look at qualifications and are only aiming to educate candidates.
• What You Want to Learn
Decide on a goal. What is your purpose for joining an internship? To experience as much as you can to figure out what you like? Or to gain work experience and learn from professionals in your chosen career field. For example, you’ve decided on a career in IT, but with so many sectors like software engineering, mobile application, networking, you’re at a loss of which to join. An internship where you can experience each to decide on a specialty is one way to go. Or if you’ve decided you want to be a project manager, then join an internship where you can pick up on-the-job skills with an experienced senior backing you.
There’s no other way to avoid it. You’re going to have to buck down and dive through those internship ads. To make it easier, join an agency and ask for recommendations. Cross reference the internship programmes and pick one that suits you best.
• Logistics and Suitability
Think about it carefully. If you’re studying in Japan, then by all means, join an internship whenever you can. But if you’re living abroad, an internship in Japan will incur a substantial amount of costs for travelling including flight, accommodation & utilities, and daily necessities like food & drink. An internship agency can help smoothen the process but consider carefully if you are financially and emotionally ready - you’ll be separated from family and friends for a while. If not, then there’s always an online internship.
In the end, the decision still falls on you but don't forget to consider every fact and opinion that you've gathered so far in making that decision. This information is supplementary at best, it won't determine your future. Only you can decide on that.
What visa you require depends on the internship you will be participating in, like:
• Student Visa
This kind of visa is usually for short term unpaid internships related to your studies. Of course you’d already have to be a student and enrolled in a Japanese university or Japanese language school.
• Designated Activities Visa
This kind of visa lets you apply for long term paid internships which can range from 3 months to 1 year of validity.
• Cultural Activities Visa
This kind of visa lets you apply for long term unpaid internships, it can range from 3 to 9 months.
If you’re getting paid or also wish to work part-time on the side, you will have to apply for Permission To Engage In Activity Other Than That Permitted Under The Status Of Residence Previously Granted.
Now that you've learned a lot about internships in Japan, here are notable internship programmes that you might be interested in:
The METI Government of Japan offers internship programs for foreigners interested in the Information & Communication Industry, Wholesale & Retail, Service Industry, Manufacturing Industry, and many more. They have connections with different companies in Japan and have employed plenty of foreign interns from Asian countries like Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Kazakhstan, and China. Online internships are also available.
The University of Tokyo Research Internship Program or UTRIP of University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Science offers a summer internship for undergraduates. Interns are given the opportunity to engage in laboratory experiments, join research programmes, and perform their own research with bonus excursions to explore Japan, like a field trip to Nikko for 2019 interns. Japanese language courses were also a part of the programme to equip interns with daily conversational Japanese for their stay.
In April 2021, UTRIP started an online internship programme - UTRIP Online 2021. Although candidates are not able to visit Japan, they will still be able to gain valuable research work experience for their future. Started as a pilot programme, we may see more of it in the future.
※ School of Science, The University of Tokyo, “Overview of the UTRIP 2019 program”
Microsoft Japan offers 2 kinds of internships; university internships and an MBA internship. There are 4 types of university internships targeted towards undergraduates; technical, technical sales, marketing, and Microsoft Development.
The MBA internship is targeted towards full time Master of Business Administration students that are looking to start a career in Japan.
As one of the biggest companies in the world, Microsoft is probably one of the best paying internships at approximately 400,000 yen per month.
It offers an MBA internship program in Japan for full time Master of Business Administration students who are fluent in English and Japanese.
United Nations offers unpaid internship programmes for students in Master’s, Doctorate, or final year Bachelor’s degree programmes. Internships are from 2 to 6 months long and must be completed before graduation. Any expenses including visa, travel, and insurance will be self-covered. To find UN internship programmes in Japan, use the job opening search feature or click here.
Here are some other internships in Japan that provide a variety of options:
If you think that applying for an internship could help you in building your career, then don't hesitate to aim for it, or aim higher with an overseas internship like in Japan by applying for an internship in Japan where opportunities are endless for those who are determined and passionate.
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