You can’t read Kant for the first time. Or anything for that matter.

It’s been a while since I made a random post.

The days of being a student are long gone and writing about little things that happen is just not a part of my priorities these days. It can’t be when you’re first in, last out of the office on occasion.
The lack of time does not mean that I am too busy to think. So that’s what I’m doing today: sharing some of the things that have been going through my mind in the last few months doing that shakaijin seikatsu.

First, is a reflection on what my philosophy professor once told the class.
It was during a course on the Critique of Pure Reason by Kant. We had all done the reading(some did it in English-some in Japanese), but no one wanted to speak up to summarize chapter 1. It’s not that we were against active participation, it’s just the reading has, as one might put it, “High-levels of abstraction.”
After our professor pushed us individually (all 5 of us), he proceeded to close his book, then closes the Japanese book, then closed the German text. The class looks at each other- we are wondering how we will make it through the 1.5 hrs left on the clock. Most of us had never picked up the book until the day prior, and it was showing.  He speaks.

“You can’t read Kant for the first time.”

‘Does he expect us to read it twice through?’ I was not excited, but I knew one reading was clearly not enough; There was no way that I was going to understand enough of the words on that page. No way was I going to comprehend it and spit it back with any semblance of eloquence.

Fast forward to 2015. At the end of one year I was sitting in a meeting room with my manager discussing my performance. By that time I was already moved several times, and I was being notified of another move… Working in Japan, is full of surprises.

Every job is different, but the knowledge carries over.
After each move,  it gets easier. It helps that it’s not the first time.

Coming out of college and expecting to do things perfectly at your job is as unlikely as comprehending all of a Kant reading in one go. It’s tough, but you might have to be willing to give it several run-throughs before you can really start to ‘get-it.’

If you are worried about how to deal with a new environment or unsatisfied with your ability, you might just need to try again. The first time is usually the most difficult, the second time will not be so bad. Just remind yourself that you might only need to read Kant once more.

 


Spinach Communication

‘Tis the season for Boston Career Forum.
I have several friends that are in Boston trying to land jobs in Tokyo. It seems counterintuitive to have to fly from Japan to America in order to have a chance of getting a job in Tokyo, but it’s part of the desperation that comes with shukatsu. What can I say? That’s how I got mine…

Two years since my skirmish at the BCF, I’m pretty much settled in to my current position. There are several aspects of work that I needed to adjust to, but one of the most recurring themes I come across is this idea of  “Ho-Ren-So.”  Ho-Ren-So is an abbreviation of Houkoku, Renraku, Soudan (報告・連絡・相談respectively). It’s a funny abbreviation as Horensou means spinach in Japanese. It may sound like your manager is talking about vegetables, but in fact it’s all about communicating what you are doing during your job.

It’s a good idea to gauge your ability to do Ho-Ren-So during shukatsu. Not only is it good practice for when you actually start working, but it will make your life a little easier and help you stand out.

Ho-Ren-So-What? … Well…
Communicating with your team and bosses is more important than you may realize. No one can read your mind.
The very act of verbalizing gives you power over the ideas that are floating around in your mind.

Ask yourself, are you getting a healthy serving of spinach??


Suit Up. Do your research.

So you’ve got your recruit suit, have a sort of resume, a vague idea of a career path that you’d like to pursue. You can wait to figure out what you really want to do, or you can start getting busy and get ahead in Shukatsu.

No one expects you to know exactly what kind of work you want to do, nor can they really know how you will perform. Your performance and competency will most likely grow as you gain more experience, but in the meantime let’s get you in a position to grow.

Here are some resources that you can look at to help you focus your vision:

CFN:
Not sure if this is the biggest or most popular, but I don’t know many people that didn’t at least register here.
Don’t worry about having a perfect resume for this site as no one looks at it. A company will ask for a copy of their own which you can customize as you venture into the warzone that is Shukatsu.

Tips
① Look through the various career forums (Boston, New York, Sydney, Tokyo, LA) and just look to see what industries are out there. You can even look at their language requirements and create a shortlist of companies worth looking into.

②If there is a company that is really appealing to you, go and visit them at the career forum if possible. You’ll get the chance to talk to some of the employees and listen to their presentation. If you’re sure you want to apply, don’t wait til the day of the event. Apply beforehand and reserve a slot ASAP. The earlier the better. Many companies allow for Skype interviews before you go in person so get a head-start.

③Apply for the Travel Scholarship.
It’s not financially easy for everyone to attend a forum.

④Check out the seminar schedule. The presentations may persuade/dissuade your decision.

⑤Don’t share a hotel with another friend who is also going to the forum. It’s a lot of stress and trust me, it’s not worth saving a few bucks.

http://www.careerforum.net/?lang=E

 

Other things to check out:
http://www.disc.co.jp/en/resource/pdf/SHUKATSU.pdf

https://jobs.gaijinpot.com/

There are many problems with the entire shukatsu process. But what can you expect when you bring the biggest corporations together in one place. There is a degree BS and you can complain all you want,  but if you want to land a place in that job, you’re going to have to play along. These tools should give you a better shot at doing just that.

 

Shukatsu Black


Skydiving

So I’ve started skydiving and not a single person I have told so far is surprised. I suppose that just goes to show that it was just a natural progression for me to do this.

Falling out of the sky and opening a parachute sounds easy. Well, okay. That much is easy.
But to be in control and aware of your movements and surroundings while you fall takes practice. The control breaks down into letting the air escape around your body so that the wind pushes you in the direction you wish to face/go. The discipline comes in when you have to decide whether or not to jump and understanding at which altitude you are at so you can pull the chute. Too low and you may be in a predicament where it’s too late to deploy a reserve chute. In 5 seconds you can be 1000ft lower, so every second counts.

I just started so my jump count is still low at this point. That’s me during my AFF (Accelerated Free Fall) level 3 jump.
AFF lvl 3 pull

Ground Practice←Skydiving requires quite a bit of prep before going up. Lack of preparation will cause you to hesitate or even go completely blank. And as I mentioned already, every second counts.

You must know what you are going to do from exit to formation to pull altitude. Every time I go up on the plane, 5-10 minutes before the jumping, I see people rehearsing their maneuvers out loud complete with gestures.

↓Here’s a pic I found hanging up on the clubhouse wall

Freefly

 

 

Aside from all the technical stuff, skydiving is liberating. The more and more you do it, the more and more you feel you need to do it again. There is so much to do and so much to improve over the last time. “How can I improve my exit?” “Let me try a new formation.” “How can I control my canopy and land softer?” The list goes on and on.

My favorite part is when we open the doors at 3000ft. and again right before the jump at 12500ft. In these moments I feel my heart racing and my mind trying to recall what maneuvers I will attempt and in what order. Then I jump. From then on it’s just you and the sky until the parachute opens. The gush of wind slows down and you’re surrounded by quietness. I do love the sound the parachute makes when opening.

I might say that bungee jumping is more of a pure adrenaline rush. In skydiving however, you are more in control.

It is in a real sense “Free” falling.

Tandem JumpersParachute

The folks over at the skydiving club are super nice and sometimes bring a watermelon for everyone. A great way to enjoy Summer!

Watermelon


Post ICU (life after liberal arts)

I often get asked what I majored in university. What’s the value of a liberal arts education? What can you do with a media communications major??
To colleagues at the work place I just remind them that I have the same job as them. That usually shuts them up.

But really… when you don’t know yet where you’re going, it can be a frightening thought -How IS a liberal arts education going to help me? Some of the hottest jobs involve coding and fancy computer engineering skills, wouldn’t it be better to just go to a school that preps you for that??- Sure. you can do that.
But some of us are just not cut out for that kind of path.

Anyway. Here are some stats of ICU students after graduation (2013):

POST GRADUATION
70.4% – Enter Workforce (438)
16.9% – Continue studies ie. Grad school (105)  ←National average is 13.0%
12.7% – Other (including pending placement overseas, prep for civil service exam) (79)

Let’s take a look at the top choices of those who enter the workforce (* includes June graduates)
1: Rakuten inc.  ——————————–8*
2: Ernst & Young Advisory Co. LTD —5*
3: Mizuho Financial group —————-5
4: Tohmatsu Group(Japan group)——-4*
5: Panasonic Corporation ——————4
6: The Asahi Shimbun Corporation—-3
7: JTB group
8: Dai Nippon Printing Co. LTD  *
9: Nomura Research Institute, LTD
10: Benesse Corporation
11: Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, LTD
12: Anderson Mori & Tomotsune LPC
13: Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation
14: Toppan Printing Co, LTD  *
15: Proctor & Gamble Japan
16: Marubeni Corporation  *
17: Works Application

Some of these names are quite impressive.
But how about Grad school?

1: University of Tokyo —-29
2: ICU ————————-12
3: Hitotsubashi Univ ——5
4: Kyoto University ——–3
5: Waseda University —–3

I know for a fact that many of the people in the lists above are entering into fields they never touched before. I for one never thought I’d be involved in the financial sector. But the fundamental goal of liberal arts is to gain understanding from diverse points of view, maybe even blur the lines between fields. In this way a liberal arts education prepares you more for ‘real world’ working environments that constantly throw curve balls your way. It’s easy to see the value in having a specialized knowledge and skill base. Less clear yet equally important is having the ability to move like water in and out of problems that do not necessarily have a fixed solution.

Look at the names of the companies. They clearly recognize that the people coming out of a liberal arts education have something to offer.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Being in the workforce here for close to a year now, I’ve come to realize that many of my concerns about working in a Japanese company were blown out of proportion. Some stereotypes are confirmed whereas some were apparently not true. For example, some of my friends are doing a ridiculous amount of overtime, but not all. It really depends on your boss and what kind of work you pursue.

Especially as somewhat of an outsider, there are different sets of expectations of me. To be concrete, I was recently moved into a division that needs a lot of reworking and my manager wants me to shake things up a bit. Perhaps its my personality and background or simply the fact that I’m young, but the idea was to get someone inside that doesn’t have the same preconceived notions  of how things ought to be and proactively make improvements.

For anyone considering going to ICU or doing shukatsu as a foreigner, you may want to understand/develop your personality and find an environment that could use someone like you. What I’m saying here is that there are places that require fresh perspectives. Question is, are you up for it?


Airsoft: An update

I’ve started posting about Airsoft in my last term of university.
Here I am one year later continuing it with people from my company. It’s a strenuous activity if you want it to be- you can sit around the back end not running around…but we will make fun of you if you keep it up.

This video was taken by me on two separate days. I put it together with some music for your entertainment.
Starting after June, I may become the new captain of the company team and will manage the events we will hold in the future.

 


Starting Shukatsu: Step 1: Self-evaluation (自己分析)

So you’ve started thinking about what you want to do when you get out of college. Maybe you’re already in Japan and want to continue living here or perhaps you’re looking to just go for broke. More and more Japanese companies are looking outwards for talent. That said, many of them haven’t developed a recruitment process that is necessarily foreigner friendly.

It’s always difficult to get started in Shukatsu, especially when people around you seem to only be writing ES and cutting class and wearing suits and what not. What’s an ES? What could they possibly be doing that is so time consuming that they cannot go to class?? -The answers to that become clearer once you start. So let’s get suited up.

Before you get serious. It might be good to give yourself a good look in the mirror. Make sure you’ve shaved, cut your hair nicely, no piercings… Most importantly look deep into your mind.

1 Who are you? What are you doing? and
2 What makes you feel like you are accomplishing something worthwhile?
3 Where do you want to be in 5 – 10 – 20 years?
4 When? – – – – – 今でしょ。

and for each one of these….
5-Why?

During an interview, you may not be able to find the words to express yourself since you never really had to justify the reason you chose your major, your club that you enjoy, the career path you are trying to start on. By knowing yourself and being able to put those abstract things into concrete descriptions, your argument will appear to have more weight.
Once you’ve filled your notebook with the answers you’ll notice some keywords that you wrote down. Use them. Prepare a story for them. Then with your cache of words, try an interview at a career forum at a company you are only partially interested in. Practice.

Logic is a key component to success. To force logic on your passion is somewhat awkward and unnatural, but possible. Readjust your answers as needed. And you’re allowed to change your opinion. (This relates to the question#5 above.)

More than anything else- Shukatsu is a mentally taxing. By prepping yourself before stepping into the battle field, you can avoid unnecessary freak outs and existential breakdowns.

 

Some other questions you might want to consider. They are asked quite often. -even as an ice breaker, but nevertheless it is an opportunity to stand out and shine.

1- Why are you interested in this company? This field?
2-How has your _____experience impacted your ideas on ____?
3-What did you learn/do during university?
4-Use 5 words to describe yourself.
5-What’s your strength/weakness?
6-What differentiates you from everyone else??