Hello everyone! My name is Ayano. I am a senior from Japan, and currently I am job hunting for when I return home after completing my optional practical training (OPT) in the United States. Last year, I flew to Boston to attend a job fair called the Boston Career Forum (BCF). I will explain what the Boston Career Forum is and what it is like for Japanese in career searching and job hunting. Then, I will talk about my experience with the career fair.
Boston career forum is an annual career fair for Japanese and English bilinguals who may have obtained or will obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher and have 1 or more years of experience living overseas. More than 240 companies and about 10,000 students coming from all across the United States, as well as few from Japan and other countries, gathered for the event. Many of you may wonder why this career fair attracts many Japanese students and companies. In order to explain this, I have examined the benefits from the perspectives of both companies and students. From the company perspective, this event is effective at recruiting for positions requiring language skills and an ability to work in diverse environments. Because of globalisation, almost all industries want students who are open minded and able to communicate effectively with foreigners, having strong interpersonal and language skills. From the students’ perspective, it is a great opportunity to get job offers in one single weekend and while still in the U.S.,which means that you wouldn’t have to go through all the steps of job hunting again after going back to Japan.
In Japan, most companies traditionally hire new graduates all at once, so students prepare for job hunting at the same time. Juniors start their internship in the summer and they start job hunting as new seniors in March (the Japanese academic year starts in April). March 1st is a big day for new seniors because it is the official day when the application process starts for every company that follows the rule of Japanese Business Federation. However, as of March 1st, this rule will be changed, due to public sentiment that students spend too much time preparing for job hunting when they should be studying. Until October 1st, the day of the entrance ceremony for new employees who are seniors joining the company in April, job hunting is continuing to be a huge deal for students who are struggling to get job offers. Most students get job offers during the summer. Since I am in the United States and I have a different academic year, it is then hard to follow the timeline as my friends do for job hunting. That is why career fairs like the BCF are helpful for students in my situation.
“My own experience” I started to look at job posting on the websites from the BCF in the summer. I am a Psychology major, but I have applied for many job positions not immediately related to my field of study. Since most Japanese companies accept applicants from all majors, I applied for many different companies, including some in: security, trading, cosmetic, and employment agency. I applied to approximately 20 companies and I have proceeded to the final interview for a few companies. I honestly didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do for the job position in the company at that time. I was in the phase of job hunting and researching the job as well as using some self analysis tools to know myself better. However, I still feel unsure about how to find a career that I am passionate about. I have also taken a standardized test online for one of the assessments of job applications for some companies. There are many processes I had to complete to become a candidate. I had to study for a standardized test including math, Japanese, and English because I had forgotten how to solve math problems when I was in middle school. I struggled to study math since it is my least favorite subject and I was so impressed that my friends back in Japan went through all the process as well to get a job. Living in the States without many friends, job hunting the way I did, made me feel isolated. I was tempted not to take it seriously, like my friends in Japan.
I had mixed feelings of excitement, fear, and nervousness. To be honest, I was overwhelmed by a number of Japanese students wearing black suits because I immediately knew that my chances to get job offers were slim. At the same time, hearing many recruiters talking passionately about what they do made me realize the reason I came here. I reminded myself I have nothing to lose which motivated myself. By the end of the weekend,I was physically and emotionally tired, and I didn’t get the desired outcome. However, I learned a lot from the experience, such as resume writing and preparation for interviews.
Resume is a key to open the door that takes you to the next application process. Japanese style resume includes not only listing of basic information of the applicants and their precious experiences, but also writing short essays about your experiences as a student. I looked up online articles to write effective short essays and went through a cycle of writing and revising. I learned how to write short essays concisely and short for hiring people who have limited time to review one’s resume. Preparation for the interview was time consuming, but it was worth practicing. I memorized what I wanted to say and then, I put emotion and passion into my words. I got to feel more confidence when I could answer the basic questions in the air. At the interview, I felt nervous, but I considered it good nervousness that made me motivated.
One thing I liked about the experience of attending the job fair was meeting peers in the same situation as me. Talking about how hard job hunting is made me feel that I am not alone. I took everything in stride, even though I didn’t know how to deal with it all. I could have reached out to some groups or online communities. From this experience, overall, I got to know myself better because I was more focused on myself than I ever have been. It was a good first try, which has given me motivation to strive for more opportunities.