- Be aware that in Japan, “internship” can mean short work experiences of say a week or less
- Long-term internships are available if you know where to look
- Benefits include growing your networking, getting to “know” how it is to work in Japan and sometimes pay too
- If you are planning to do so it is recommended to start early
- Resources to find internships stated at the bottom
Written by: Austin Zeng
Internships in Japan
Unlike in many other countries, Japan does not have a strong culture of students doing internships. That being said though, as a foreign student studying in Japan, internships can help you not just for your career but also as a cultural experience in itself.
The first thing though is to be aware when Japanese talk about “internships”. In the typical Japanese shukatsu (job-search) schedule internships often refer to week-long work experiences often limited to 3rd year undergraduates / 1st year masters students where a student has a work experience in a Japanese company for less than a week. Understanding this is key to not getting confused when talking to Japanese about internships.
There are a growing number of long-term internships around in Japan though – and many of them are looking for foreign students. This is especially true if you have a skill such as programming, or are fluent in English as well as Japanese.
Benefits of doing an internship
Aside from being able to know more about Japan by working, internships also allow you to expand your network. If you are lucky you may be able to find your post-graduation workplace and shortcut the whole shukatsu process too. Many internships are also paid – but if you do a paid internship be aware that you probably need a work permit (refer to the part-time work article for more information).
Here are some resources which you can use to find yourself an internship
・Wantedly is a good platform to find yourself an internship in Japan and many firms on it are looking for international interns. Other platforms include:
Big Japanese portal sites with some companies looking for foreign students eg. Rikunavi, MyNavi
Smaller more start-up (but internationally-oriented) based resources include Active Connector and Justa.
・Personal connections are very important – ask senpais at school and maybe through MSA about whether they know any good opportunities.
・Most of the resources in the part-time work article also give information about internships – including the Tomonokai mailing list and of course the MSA mailing list.
(Image taken from flickr.com (2017/10/10))
These guide articles are meant to be advice based on the experience of current and previous scholars. Given how situations may change depending on the school, region or year etc., we urge any scholars to approach the relevant authorities in your school if you have any doubts or concerns.