Saya Yamazaki stands in front of Temple University mascot Hooter the Owl

Over the past year, when the coronavirus pandemic has hit every life hard, students at Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) have thrived through the job-hunting period. How? Three students – Saya Yamazaki (economics major with a job offer from Boston Consulting Group), Riku Sakae (international affairs major with a job offer from Amazon Japan G.K.), and Kenneth Connelly (communication major with a job offer from Dentsu Digital) – have shared what they have gone through with a new virtual approach to pursue their career adventure.

At TUJ, an American university, students do not graduate in March, as is the case of Japanese university students. TUJ students can graduate anytime upon their completion of all required credits. TUJ’s academic program and American university calendar have made graduating more flexible for students.

Virtual Job Hunts: The Inevitable

The experience of virtual job hunting has been inevitable over the past year because of the COVID pandemic, and TUJ students have had to deal with new norms like everyone else.

Saya Yamazaki, who received a job offer from Boston Consulting Group, said that online job hunting had made things easier for her, especially participating in career seminars sponsored by the hiring companies. These were all online, so she was able to attend them between classes. Even job interviews were online and did not require visiting any offices. That means applicants can participate from anywhere, even outside Japan. This created more competition than in previous years. Yamazaki said that she was under more pressure because there were more bilingual speakers of Japanese and English from outside Tokyo. “It was hard for me to meet and connect with alumni or people within the industry to gather information. I was also not able to go to the office and see what the workplace looked like,” added Yamazaki.

Kenneth Connelly, who received a job offer from Dentsu Digital, said that “Online job hunting was easy for me.” He added that as career seminars were conducted in a small groups instead of groups of hundreds of students, it was easier for him to ask the hiring team questions about the company and efficiently get the information he was looking for.

Internships Can Get You in the Door

TUJ, like many American universities, offers academic credit for internships.

This was part of the reason Saya Yamazaki chose to enroll at TUJ. In her sophomore year at TUJ, she interned at a Japanese IT venture company. “I plan to run my own company and wanted to know how things are at a start-up.” said Yamazaki. She added that her internship in Japan provided her an in-depth view of the IT industry and that it became an inspiration to broaden her perspective further. “Another reason I chose TUJ is because the student body is diverse — different nationalities, ages, religions, cultures, and backgrounds— more than I could have met elsewhere,” noted Yamazaki. “The next step is to understand the managerial side of the companies because I am going to be a business consultant.”

Riku Sakae’s internship at an international refugee support group has enabled him to see his future more clearly. “Through my internship, I learned what it is like to work in an international environment. It helped me get a clearer image of what I want to aim for in future, too,” said Sakae. “Amazon Japan GK has a truly international atmosphere and there were many things I could empathize with even at my interview, so I honestly thought that I would love to work there.”

Kenneth Connelly had hoped to intern at the U.S.’s NBC TV in Japan and cover the Tokyo Olympics in summer 2020. With the COVID pandemic, the opportunity disappeared. “I wish I had the chance of internship at a major TV station.”

Support for TUJ Students Pursuing Professional Goals

The TUJ Career Development Office has a strong support system for students seeking jobs. Japanese companies have a unique hiring process. According to Kenneth Connelly and Riku Sakae, the TUJ Career Development Office has been very helpful.

“I really didn’t know anything about job hunting, even how to write a résumé, how to complete application forms, and how to really express myself in a good way,” said Sakae. “But TUJ helped me practice interviews right from the basics. Thanks to them, I was able to hunt for jobs in a much smoother manner. The career support and consultations at TUJ were honestly like a rescue service for me.”

Connelly credited the TUJ Career Development Office for his successful application at Dentsu Digital. “I didn’t start looking for jobs early at all, but I did make active use of the career office support,” he said. “In the midst of this coronavirus pandemic, you can’t visit companies directly, so the TUJ Career Fair presented the best opportunity possible for students, with companies coming to the campus. Even with the career fair being held online, I asked the representatives from each company many questions.”

TUJ Students are More than Just Bilingual

One similarity that Connelly, Yamazaki and Sakae agreed on was that their lives as students have been fulfilled while at TUJ, as they could achieve their academic and professional goals at the same time.

Yamazaki said that “Some professors at TUJ have experience working with companies, so it allowed us to learn more practical knowledge, such as applying frameworks that were outside the scope of the textbooks in our business classes. Every class was very interesting and I felt like I was getting so much out of it.”

“Life at TUJ was tougher than I imagined, but it made me prioritise and plan scheduling so that I could tackle my assignments,” said Connelly. “As students majoring in communication we have a tendency to focus on creativity. But I feel that as a creator, it is important to look at things objectively through discussions and from different perspectives, too. Students should also be aware of how other people evaluate their work. For example, there are opportunities to share their work in joint classes with Showa Women’s University. They see things differently and that was very helpful.”

Kenneth Connelly in front of a work he created.
Kenneth Connelly in front of a work he created.
Riku Sakae, on his way to campus, in front of cherry blossom
Riku Sakae, on his way to campus, in front of cherry blossom
Saya Yamazaki on the TUJ campus.
Saya Yamazaki on the TUJ campus.

Last words

Yamazaki, Sakae and Connelly remind all current students that studying at TUJ is tough, and job hunting while taking care of your studies isn’t easy. However, they agreed that a lot of new things would be found and their world would be broadened by participating both inside and outside classes. Internships, volunteer program or even part-time jobs can open more opportunities.

Lastly, all of them believe that “Taking action yourself is what is most important,” while asserting that “The experiences you get at TUJ through your life as a student are special and hard to get elsewhere. They do not only connect to your possible job prospects, but also to what you do with your life in the future, too. We hope students have confidence in themselves and go on to try lots of things in their student life.”