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My Experience Job Hunting in Japan : Graduating as a Humanities Major in Spring 2024

My Experience Job Hunting in Japan : Graduating as a Humanities Major in Spring 2024

Hello everyone! I am an international student in the humanities, graduating in March 2024. I want to share my experiences and thoughts on job hunting in Japan, on which I’ve worked hard over the past year.

I don’t have any particular qualifications other than my language skills, and I didn't participate in that many internships. However, in the end, I received a job offer from a major foreign company—my first choice! Of course, I was lucky, but I would like to look back at my job-hunting activities here with you, hoping that it will help fellow international students who will be job hunting in the future.

1. Job Hunting Timeline (for a graduate in Spring 2024)

June 2022: In June of my third year of university, my friends and I registered on MyNavi and Rikunabi, job-hunting information sites for new graduates. At this point, I had not decided what industry or job I was interested in. Since my friends were looking for summer internships, I decided to do the same. I looked into several industries and learned the names of many different companies.

July 2022: I applied for summer internships at several companies but was unsuccessful at the application screening stage. However, I got to participate in several one-day internships (no screening, basically held online, an information session followed by a few group discussions on the same day). Through these internship experiences, I first came to understand the importance of teamwork. I also had the opportunity to learn more about industries like IT, telecommunications, manufacturing, and banking. Meanwhile, I started a long-term internship in the tourism industry.

October 2022: To get more detailed information, I registered with about 20 company websites recruiting new graduates, and attended many company information sessions. Through this process, I gradually realized that I was interested in IT, so I started studying for the SPI (Synthetic Personality Inventory: a comprehensive aptitude test) and working on my English.

November 2022: Some foreign-based companies had started their main hiring process for new graduates of spring 2024, and I began applying. However, I struggled to pass the entry sheet (ES) stage, so I sought help from job hunting advisors at my university’s career center. They provided me with great help in improving my ES and with practicing for job interviews. At this point, I had decided that IT was the industry I wanted to work in, so I began researching job categories within the industry and decided on the type of work I wanted to do. I then took the TOEIC and the Business Japanese Proficiency Test (JBT) and began self-studying programming.

January 2023: During this period, I continuously registered for information from companies I was interested in and attended information sessions. I applied not only to large companies but to many small and medium-sized companies and was invited to many interviews. For applications, I mainly used OfferBox to contact the small and medium-sized companies. I wrote drafts and practiced answering frequent-asked interview questions, such as, “What did you put of the most effort into during your school days?” “Why do you want to work for our company?,” “Why does a liberal arts student want to work in the IT industry?” “Why did you come to Japan to study abroad?” and so on.

March 2023: I took advice from my career center advisors and always tried to keep a smile on my face during interviews. I was not very nervous at this point because I did not have high expectations for the interviews (laughs). I got used to being interviewed and got an 80% pass rate for the first interview. I then participated in the hiring process for several companies that were my first choice. Since they were my first choice, I was a little nervous about interviewing with them, but I knew I had prepared well so far and did my best to overcome that!

May 2023: I participated in an interview with one of my first-choice companies and was fortunate to receive a job offer.

2. Reflections

 (1) Failure to get an internship is not the end of the world.

Having failed to participate in a summer internship initially made me feel that I also lost the opportunity for the early hiring opportunity, so I was desperate to join a winter internship no matter what! However, now that my job search is over, I realize that internships may not be that important.

There is no doubt that internships are a great opportunity to gain experience, and some companies do give early job offers if you intern at the company. However, you can still get into the main hiring process without doing an internship, and not participating in an internship will have a limited impact on your selection. In addition, if you participate in an internship when you are not yet ready and unable to perform well, you may be left with a poor evaluation. Also, some companies only allow you to take the aptitude web test once, and they use only your internship evaluation for the main hiring process. My conclusion is that if a company has a long-term internship, like Microsoft or Google, you should participate in it without hesitation. But if it is a very short-term program, like a one-day internship, join it if you have time. Instead, attending information sessions to gather information, studying for the SPI, revising your ES, and preparing well for interviews is much more significant.

 (2) Do your self-analysis and company research thoroughly.

I am not talking about self-analysis just for job hunting. It is better to regularly think about your life and career and discuss them with your friends and upperclassmen. When doing so, I recommend you think from the three perspectives of “what society expects from you,” “what you want to do,” and “what you can do.” During job interviews, you should be able to explain logically what you want to do in the future, why you want to do it, why you think you can do it, and which industry or company you think is the best option for you to make that happen, in order to convince the interviewers.

When I started job hunting, I only did a little research on companies. I thought that reading all the company’s official websites would be enough. But, in the latter half of my job-hunting, I realized that researching my target companies deeper and thoroughly was very important to differentiate myself from other candidates. To do this, you must dedicate a good deal of time on company research to clarify your reasons for applying and your goals. That way you can make the interviewers feel you are highly motivated and successfully differentiate yourself from other candidates.

(3) Apply to small and medium-sized companies.

Since I did not know much about small and medium-sized companies, I initially applied only to large companies or companies whose names I knew. However, even if you do not intend to work for a small or medium-sized company or venture at the beginning, I recommend you consider applying to several. This is because each major, venture, or smaller-sized company has a different way of working and a different company atmosphere and working environment. The best company for you may not be a large corporation. Smaller and venture companies are relatively easier to get interview opportunities with, and you can learn a lot through interacting with HR and interviewers. You may meet a company you would like to work for through your interactions with the company during the job search. Plus, you will feel more confident if you receive a job offer.


3. A message to fellow international students
Many Japanese companies are actively recruiting international students. If you want to find a job in Japan, it’s important to prepare early. International students are less familiar with the timing and flow of job hunting in Japan than Japanese students and often start later than Japanese students. To avoid this, it is always a good idea to exchange information with your friends, including Japanese students, and help each other with job hunting. This way you can cheer each other up when some of you experience a difficult time. Also, take advantage of your school’s career center. By consulting with a career adviser at the center early on, you will know what you need to do!

I am rooting for you to land a job you love in Japan. Good luck!



(Text: Li Yuanjin, Doshisha University)

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