Alice Odoux1. First, who are you? What are your dreams and why the interest in Japan?

My name is Alice Odoux. I am a French girl of 24 years. Since highschool I was curious about the culture and history of Japan. I read books, watched movies and became more and more interested about the country. Many of my choices after high school were about Japan. Which business school had an exchange program with Japan? Which afterschool classes should I take to have higher chances? The business school I chose had 3 open positions every year to go study at their partner school in Osaka. So I made sure to be a top student to be one of the first one to choose my destination. I didn’t want to leave any chance to doubt. Thanks to that, I spent one year in Osaka in 2010/2011 as an exchange student. Student’s life is very different from worker’s life, I was aware of that and that is why I decided to do my university’s mandatory 6 months internship in Japan as well.

2. Tell us about the planning and process.

Finding an internship in Japan is really difficult, especially if you don’t know the language. First I tried to find some international companies on the internet and sent them my CV but that didn’t really work. The second step was to contact a lot of people directly on LinkedIn. I connected with them and asked directly about internships in Japan. Networking is always useful, even if the timing was not good that time. I joined a couple of groups on LinkedIn and one of them was Internship Japan. On the wall, Verena started a really useful introduction page, where every member could quickly introduce themself and their purpose in the group. One of the person was Terrie Lloyd, who I saw on other Japan related groups too. He was welcoming any approach about internship. I connected to him on LinkedIn. After a few exchanges, I explained to him what I was looking for. That was the perfect timing since he was looking for new interns for an internship program for Japan Tourist (now Japan Travel) ( He sent me the description of the internship but it was a bit different from what I was looking for, more focused on traveling around Japan, writing articles and so on. So I explained to him I was more marketing and management-oriented. Thanks to my previous experiences, he proposed to me to be in charge of the program itself.

3. Tell us about the internship.

What did you do? I worked in Roppongi, Tokyo, most of the times in the office. I was in charge of the internship project in Japan, handling around 33 people between 20 and 30 years of age, with various nationalities and experience. I had to manage them; plan their routes, their tickets, follow-up on their assignments, sometimes talk to the families, manage reimbursements, schedules, check their articles. I met all of the interns and also went out to meet some partners, e.g. hotel owners and regional partners. The project went quite well so they decided to continue it the year after and I had to take care of the new advertisement, communication and part of the recruitment. Before I had to leave I had to train the people taking over my position too.

4. Did you have any chance to study Japanese while in Japan or before coming?

I was doing extra Japanese classes in my business school before coming here, not just to start with the language but also to make sure I was on top of the class for the exchange year. Then I studied Japanese when I was in Osaka. The working language during my internship was English though.

5. You’re back in Japan with a full-time job now. Congratulations! Tell me more about that please.

Having a six month working experience in Japan really helped my profile when I was applying for jobs in Japan after I graduated. It was a plus from the “normal” one year exchange student experience that many people have, so the employers were keener to understand my motivation. After being an exchange student basically everyone wants to go back to that place to continue this other life where you experienced a total new environment, new friends, good memories, crazy parties, etc. But it’s always different from real active life. So doing the six months internship showed my possible employers that I was aware of that and I was ready for a working life. This internship was a good transition from student to active life, not just professionally but also for me personally. Thanks to the internship, the “shock” to a start a new working life in Japan wasn’t so big. Most of all, it helps you to realize what responsibility really is.

6. How can we as Internship Japan do better? So give us your advice please.

Back then there were almost no internship offers in Japan, on LinkedIn or internet. I would have wished for more partners and possible internships. It would also be good for you to continue good relations and keep in touch with the people who approached you and maybe even got an internship through you. Same for the companies. You can offer them to assist with future interns too. At that time, I was not trying to find the solution all done and ready for me. I know that never really works. I was looking for some orientation, who to talk to, since I had almost no network in Japan. The group was the orientation I was looking for!


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.

Nicolas and Sarah1. Tell us about your company. What are you doing, about your markets and the countries you deal with the most.

Tsugi ( offers consultancy and research & development services to the game, music and movie industries. We develop tools and engines for a variety of studios and middleware companies. Most of our clients are in the USA, in the UK, in Canada, and of course in Japan: basically countries with a strong game industry. We also publish our own line of software for creative people. One of our most popular products right now is DSP Anime which lets people create sound effects for their movies, animations and video games.

2. How did you find your intern and tell us about the process before the internship started.

It was really straightforward, we just posted a message on the Internship Japan group on LinkedIn (at the time, I believe your web site didn’t exist yet) and quickly several candidates contacted us. They were all quite interesting; we simply chose the person who seemed to be the best fit for the internship. A couple of emails with Sarah (our future intern), and everything was set! Because her school program required for their students to do an internship abroad (and they helped), and because she knew from the beginning that she wanted to do it in Japan, it was all very easy to organize. Also, we had welcomed interns from overseas previously, so we were already all set concerning her lodging in a Japanese-style share house and other matters.

3. What does an intern do at your company?

It will obviously depend on the intern’s skills. In the past we had interns in programming, sound design, graphic design and just now in marketing / PR. Since we are a small start-up, there is always a lot to do and everybody’s ideas are taken into consideration. An intern will do work directly related to his or her domain of expertise and will probably have more responsibilities than he or she would have interning in a bigger company. Interns are definitely not here to serve green tea!

4. What kind of person would be the ideal intern? What does your company need?

Right now we are looking for marketing / sales and programming interns. We get a lot of game design / graphic design requests too but unfortunately we don’t have any openings in these areas at the moment. That being said, new projects can start quickly so if anyone is interested, they definitely should send their resume, as these are the ones that we will read first when we start looking for new interns or even employees. Generally speaking, it’s easier if the intern has a basic knowledge of the game or animation industry and of the type of products we are making. We are also looking for someone who is really proactive.

5. How did your intern do while with you?

We are all very happy with Sarah’s work. She had a very good knowledge of the video game industry before coming here and was already very interested in Japan and anime, so it was really a good fit. Sarah also came at a time where we were really busy with various projects and she still managed to do wonders with very little supervision.

6. Which language did you use with your intern? Does the intern speak Japanese?

She didn’t speak Japanese (although she was learning and could read hiragana and katakana). We were speaking English at the office, which in most cases in this company will be just fine (unless of course you are interning to help with marketing / sales for Japan). However speaking Japanese –even just a little bit- will always be helpful for the daily life outside of the office. We are located in Nigata and there are not so many foreigners here, especially compared to Tokyo or Osaka, and fewer English-speaking locals.

7. How can we as Internship Japan do better? You know we are growing, wanting to become an NPO, our goals can be seen here – reaching those will take time. So give us your advice please.

Maybe we were lucky, but simply using the Internship Japan group on LinkedIn worked extraordinarily well for us! You may be preparing that already, but having an online database of internship offers and candidates would be great. Anything speeding up the process is welcome, so having the possibility for the companies to enter some search criteria and to receive automatically a notification when there is a match in the database would be awesome!

Nicolas Fournel, CEO


  1. Please tell us about your yourself, who are you and what's your interest in Japan.

    My name is Amos Panecatl, I am 30 years old and I am a student at the University of Phoenix, Arizona, about to be graduating. I am originally from Mexico and used to be a cook. I already spent 4 years as an English teacher in Japan. Because my wife is Japanese, I have a spouse visa and I'm therefore eligible to work here. I was a vice president at the Association of Mexicans in Japan for three years as well.

  2. How did you plan for your time in Japan? How did Internship Japan help you?

    At first I had no Japanese skills at all, but I studied hard in order to get to a decent level. I also did the TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) teaching certification before looking for work in Japan. Because of my spouse visa, it wasn't that difficult to come to Japan with that. I struggled hard to find jobs after my arrival but eventually found work at a small English school called Minimax International School.

    But even with that work and income, I wanted to get some real work experience in my field. I was always interested in people's thinking and since I'm studying international marketing, I really wanted to see it work in a real business, preferably in Japan. So I did some online research, read about how to do networking in Japan and eventually joined the Internship Japan LinkedIn group. There were already some discussions and introductions there to get an idea. In the end, Verena Hopp and I connected directly and she introduced me to Tushar Khandelval of Voyagin
    . I sent in my resume and they invited me to an interview.

  3. Tell us about the internship please. How does your daily routine look like for example?

    I did an unpaid internship for
    3 months at Voyagin ( I spent around 3 hours every day for around 2-3 days in a week at their office. At first it was a bit strange, coming from a restaurant environment and the service industry. From my experience direct questions are being asked directly, but in an office it's mostly different. You have to wait until the other isn't busy or send them emails or chat messages and wait for their reply.  Tuhshar personally took care of me most of the time and supported me greatly. He told me about the company's work and projects on a daily basis and took me to meetings. Sometimes we went to the local coffee shop and even had our meetings and talks there. Everyone else was also super nice and friendly.

    My daily routine mostly consisted of checking blogs and forums in order to find more customers in addition to the meetings I joined. I also wrote some articles and reviews. In general they treated me more like an apprentice than an intern, I really liked that. And there was no coffee making :)

    Even though I mainly used English during work, there was plenty of opportunities to listen to them speaking Japanese to each other. I could almost understand everything but replying and participating in a Japanese discussion was a bit too hard back then.

    Any problems you encountered?

    The only problems I encountered were the fact that I had no office or work experience so far, so everything was quite new to me. Seeing everyone so busy was sometimes difficult as well, because I had to wait and my time was limited every week. That was actually the main problem; the time. I had to quit after 3 months because I simply had no time for my "real" work and university studies and the internship. It was too exhausting. I did leave in good standing though and even got offered a possible job for marketing later on.

  4. Any message for young people thinking about coming to Japan?

    Yes, s
    tudy Japanese!! You will need the language skills in Japan. Study the culture a little, read some books for example.

    Be prepared for the culture shock, your home country is definitely different from Japan. Even the smallest things can be different and that can seriously be confusing and even irritating in the beginning.

    Have a plan when you come here or at least make a plan when you are here! Not having a plan is not a good idea, things don't magically happen to you in Japan (most of the times), you need to be prepared.

    Decide quickly if you want to stay or not. You might lose money (i.e. pension) or other important things if you decide to go back after a short amount of time (like 6 months). So if you decide to stay in Japan for a while, do your best to make it to the end.

  5. Do you want to stay in Japan? Interested in a full-time job here apart from teaching English?

    Yes, I'd like to stay here at least 5 more years and work in marketing. In the long run I want to run my own business but I haven't decided on what to do exactly. But I will have a plan very soon ;)

  6. How can we as Internship Japan do better?

    I think you are already doing great, the connections to the right people you offer and support is definitely a useful thing. Supporting people new to Japan (language and culture) with advice is really good. I would like to see official Internship Japan events for people in Japan soon, connecting companies and internship-seekers alike, sharing experiences, creating new opportunities for all of us.

  7. Anything else you'd like to share?

    Read the book Bushido: Soul of Japan. It explains a lot about where Japanese culture and habits come from originally. You might understand more why Japanese people behave in a certain way after reading that book. It helped me a lot in understanding certain things in Japan.

(Amos did his internship at Voyagin)

Thank you very much. We very much hope to hear from you in future. :-)


Dear Leo,

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?

    My dream is basically to find a job which I do not only like to do, but which would also allow me to make a change in this world; to look back on my life when I am old and be able to tell what I have accomplished. Since I grew up very close to a city with a huge Japanese population (Düsseldorf), Japanese people, food and things have been a part of my life for a long time. I often went to Japanese restaurants with friends or watched the annual firework with my family. So when I approached high school graduation, a gap year in Japan was the first thing that came to my mind because the Japanese culture is still very different from the more uniform Western cultures like the U.S., Australia or European countries. Moreover, I thought it would be a great asset to be able to speak and write a little Japanese.'

  2. Tell us about the planning and process.

    I first started planning my gap year about one year before my intended departure date. Basically I just sent out a hundred e-mails to German, Japanese and other international companies that have offices in Tokyo or other major cities. However, this turned out to be very ineffective as the whole “internship”-system does not really exist in Japan, or if it does, it is for university graduates and –students only. This is where Internship Japan was really the bridge to finding an internship for my first months in Tokyo; less than a month after I joined the group on LinkedIN I received the contact details of my current boss and I was able to quickly arrange the timespan and details. After that, I applied for the working holiday visa and planned all the other details including housing, flights, etc.

  3. Tell us about the internship in media you are doing right now. What are you doing? How and who is your boss etc.

    The news agency where I complete my internship is one of the very few independent news organizations in all of Japan since most news are transmitted through press clubs or the global agencies like Reuters and AP. This means that we produce video clips, articles and interviews for clients that wish to purchase more unique and investigative journalism. I help my boss, who used to be a university professor in southern Japan, conducting interviews and shooting general footage which is required for the reports. Furthermore, I was able to publish two articles about energy policy in Japan in a magazine which is published by the news agency. I get along with my boss very well; it is always fun and relaxed and never too strict or inflexible!

  4. You also study Japanese at Tokyo Riverside School, how is that?

    Studying half-day and working half-day is a lot of work; that is for sure. I finish school at 12:30 and usually start work at 13:30. After I leave the office around 6 or 7, I still need to do my homework and study for the tests at school. Nevertheless, I believe that this is a very good combination which helps people to accomplish more in life since it does not only promote the language but also helps to get to know Japan on a different level, in my case journalism. The class itself is very nice and I have found many friends there. Japanese teaching methods may not always be what Europeans or Americans are used to at home, and it can be very frustrating, but every time I had an issue or problem with a teacher or the content the school’s staff quickly helped me resolve it (especially Verena!). After three months of studying, I have learned many Kanji and a lot of grammar. The school uses its own textbook, which is very good since it is almost completely in Japanese but contains both Kanji and Furigana.

  5. How is Japan so far?

    Japan is really an incredible place. It has so many fascinating aspects to it that I could write ten pages about this. The streets and the subway stations are completely clean even though trash cans are nowhere to be found; people are extremely nice and helpful; Tokyo looks amazing at night; and the public transportation network is so elaborate that every other city on this planet can only take Tokyo as an example close to perfection. I have met many very nice people and made many good friends, both international and Japanese students at some of the universities here in Tokyo. I am not into Manga or Anime, but of course, Japan offers a broad variety of culture besides that. Even after three months, there are parts of Tokyo which I have not seen yet! There is a place to do whatever you want to do; let it be thrift shopping in Shimokitazawa or partying in Shinjuku and Roppongi.

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

    Just do it! No matter how much you have read about Japan and Tokyo in particular before you get here, it will still surprise you in many ways. There is nothing more memorable and amazing than making friends all over the world, for which a big city like Tokyo is the perfect place – I shared an apartment with friends from Korea, China, England, Turkey and Indonesia! Besides that, there are very many exchange students and Japanese students who are eager to get to know foreigners at bigger universities like ICU, Keio, or Todai. Never miss out on an opportunity like this!

  7. How can we as Internship Japan do better? You know we are growing, wanting to become an NPO, our goals can be seen here: (LINK) – reaching those will take time. So give us your advice please.

    I think that it would be great to have a job offer site on Facebook. I do not know if that is possible but creating a site where all the internship connections for potential interns (as well as internship seeking people) can post the respective jobs, like they can on LinkedIn. Besides that, I think that Internship Japan is a great institution which will help many more people who want to spend some time in Japan find the right internship! The more offers there are, the more new offers will be suggested.

(Leo did his internship at SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY)

Thank you very much. We very hope to hear from you in future. :-)

Edit: Leo finished studying and received his diploma from Tokyo Riverside School after he came back from a cool trip to Hokkaido.



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