Katharina studied Human Resources and had to do an internship before graduation. She wanted to do that in a foreign country and Japan was her first choice.


Dear Katharina, since you are an early member of Internship Japan who did find an internship through the group and came to Japan, please tell us a bit about it. Positive and negative things – please speak freely from your heart. :-)

1. First, who are you? What are your dreams and why the interest in Japan?

I am a second-year student of labor market management at the University of Applied Labor Studies of the Federal Employment Agency (HdBA) in Mannheim, Germany. I have been in Tokyo for a language course in July 2010. During that time people as well as their way of thinking and their attitude towards work fascinated me in many ways. Furthermore I am very interested in the labor market situation of Japan.

2. Tell us about the planning and process.

Sadly my employer limited internship possibilities to public services or private employment agencies. That meant not too many choices in first place. My goal was Japan, so I contacted many Japanese employers. Soon I had to recognize that internships, real internship programs do not yet exist in Japan, like those we know from Germany. After I bothered a lot of people, someone recommended Verena Hopp from “Internship Japan” to me. Five months without any success, she first of all encouraged me not to give up and helped me to get an internship with a great HR company named Ingenium, so some months later I was able to sit on a plane to Tokyo and make my dream come true.

3. Your university gave you special conditions, please tell us about those.

I’m in a dual study program. My employer, the Federal Employment Agency, is the largest provider of labor market services in Germany. They want their students to get some impressions of work life in different countries and to get to know more about other cultures in a time period of two months. They paid the wage, accommodation and food.

4. Tell us about the internship in HR you did. What did you do? How and who is your boss etc.?

I worked in the Technology Team together with the Ingenium Partner and the Engagement Manager. They gave me an insight of the Technology industry and how working as a head hunter looks like. They integrated me very quickly into their running research process, where I was allowed to do some research and to map my results for them. Moreover I could observe team meetings and interesting telephone conferences.

5. Did you have any chance to study Japanese while in Japan or before coming? Will you come again?

I will definitely come again. Japan is totally worth every effort, time and money. I studied Japanese before coming to Tokyo, but learning Japanese while staying in Japan would probably be more effective.

6. How was Japan? Any message for young people thinking about coming to Japan?

In my opinion Japan and the Japanese people are unique. Their way of living and thinking and their whole self-image is totally different from anything I know. Having even a short experience in Japan can change your feelings towards your own country and you probably start questioning your own life attitude and start thinking about issues like solidarity or social regulations.

7. How can we as Internship Japan do better? You know we are growing, just recently received our status as official Non-Profit Organization, our goals can be seen here – reaching those will take time. So give us your advice please.

I’m very happy with the support from “Internship Japan”. Maybe it could be possible for your growing organization to get a connection with the Japanese embassy in Berlin and inform them about your plans, so they won't laugh at people who ask them about internships in Japan.

Katharina is now working on her BA-thesis, comparing the German and Japanese labor law. We, Internship Japan want to cooperate with universities and bring out our own materials for Japanese companies who are willing to take interns. There are many gray areas in the current laws and the term “intern” is not legally defined. We will bring out a definition – stay tuned.

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