Sakura Mentor

Job-Hunting Notes - Part 4: Q&A
Ha Hoang Updated in January 2022

I hope this Q&A section might help you. And this is also the last episode about job hunting. I hope you will successfully get a job in Japan.

1. Is doing internship necessary to get a job?

From my experience, I don't think it is necessary. There are many kinds of internships in Japan, including months-long internship or even just one-day internship. From viewpoint of the company, short-term internships (few days to one week) usually aim for advertising the company. If you are considering some companies, applying for short internships there might be good to understand the working environment. When they see you do well in a long-term internship, some places might offer you a job after the internship is over. However, doing a full long-term internship can affect your studies at school, too. So you need to consider it carefully.

One great benefit of applying for internship is that you will go through document preparation and interview, so it will be helpful for you in the real job hunting.

2. How to categorize companies that you want to apply for?

In my case, I divided companies into 3 categories by the order: (a) companies that are related to my major and I’m interested in, (b) companies that are related to my major but I’m not interested in, (c) companies that are not related to my major but I think I can work well there. Because category (a) is my main target, I applied document and did entry tests for (b) (c) first to practice. Moreover, I also had interviews with (b) (c) first, and from that I learnt and prepared better for (a).

Gerd Altmann - Pixabay

3. Should I use recommendation letter from university?

The recommendation letter from university used during job hunting in Japan is different from general recommendation letters known to international students. It should be understood as a promise/pledge between you/your university and a company that if you got the job offer from that company, you will certainly go to work for them. Normally, one student will get 2-3 job offers. Naturally, he/she can only pick one job and refuse the other offers. Hence, the recommendation letter is in the benefit of the company to ensure that they will get that student no matter what.

A simple explanation about the recommendation system can be seen in the diagram below. For instance, company A offers maximum of 3 positions to university C. If there are 4 students from the university who want to get the letter for company A, it means that one student will get rejected. So you need to think wisely when deciding about recommendation letter, because one student can get only one recommendation letter from the university or none.

4. How to summarize your research in one A4 page?

Many companies require one A4 page research summary. At that time, I thought it was so difficult because there were so many things about my research I wanted to introduce (around 20 pages of PowerPoint), then how could I do it? And I summarized in one page by making it as a poster presentation (like what I did when I took part in a conference).

However, as a person working in a company now, sometime I have to summarize a research article into one page PowerPoint, I realized the real meaning of one page research summary in job hunting. It is not only to introduce your research work, but also reflect your summary skills. Then I would recommend you to practice more by summarizing other research articles, then you will find a way to summarize your own research.

5. When receiving more than one job offer, how to choose the right one?

It is hard to pick one, but I hope you can make decision easier by: join company visiting tour to understand more about working environment, ask interviewers questions at the end of interview, pay attention to interviewer’s words because they will mention about working environment sometime during interviews, understand company business model to decide if you want to stay long with them, ask opinions from your professors, talk to people working at that company if possible…