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

Hi. My name is Christiana. I am a student in Copenhagen. I study Sports Management. I am from Romania. I would like to work in the sport industry in the future. I had an interest for Japan since I was very little. I love the culture, the language, the people. I have wanted for a long time to go to Japan. It was one of my biggest dreams and I am really glad that I got the opportunity to be there even if it was for a short while.

2. Tell us about the planning and process.

My planning process for the internship started one year before I went to Japan. Since the internship at Central Sports was not paid (agreement stated in my contract from school), I had to work to save money in order to go there. I started by searching online or asking some of my Japanese friends if they know of some internships in Japan, but it did not help a lot. Japan is new to internships especially with foreigners. So I decided to go personally to Tokyo. I was in Japan for the first time in January 2015. At one of my school classes that was dedicated in finding an internship, my teacher suggested making a profile on LinkedIn. So I began to search on LinkedIn and this is how I found Internship Japan. After sending a message, I was redirected by the Internship Japan team (they set up a topic for me) to another group that was more related to my studies and here were people that helped me (Mr. Onoe's interview can be found here). I was in Tokyo for one week and had interviews and a few months later one of the company responded positive.

To tell a little about my interview. There were 3 people there. My Japanese was not very good at that moment. Fortunately, one person there knew English and was able to translate everything. I remember when they said that when they heard about the internship with a foreigner they did not liked the idea that much, but after the interview they said that they kind of change their mind. After a few months I got the internship. I was the first intern they had.

3. What were the prerequisites for your internships? Any special conditions from your university? Personal?

Yes, I had. I had some learning objectives in my contract from the University that had to be accomplished at my internship and minimum working hours. From the company the only requirement was that I had to speak in Japanese as I was the first intern they had. The people that I have been working with there don`t speak English.

4. With what kind of visa did you come to Japan and how did the application work?

It was a culture activities visa that is mainly for activities such as internships.

5. Tell us about the internship at Central Sports. What did you do? How was your daily work? How was your boss?

I worked in HR, Leisure Department (events) and Marketing Department (creating a new sports club). Since everything was in Japanese it was a little hard to communicate, especially at the beginning. For this reason, I could not be 100% involved in daily work. I was more involved in accomplishing my learning objectives. I learned a lot about the corporate culture by being there and since my field of experience is sport I was involved also in sport events from the company.

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

Yes. Some years ago I finished my Bachelor in Japanese Language in Literature, that is how I knew more about the culture and language, but because it was a long time ago and since then I did not had any contact with the language, my skills faded, especially my writing skills so I did not had the knowledge I had before. Being there really helped in improving my understanding of the language and also my speaking. I really want to come back. I hope I will someday :)

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

It was AMAZING. My message would be JUST GO FOR IT. It is totally different than what I was used to, but it was one of the happiest experience I have ever had.

8. How can we as Internship Japan do better?

Maybe more advertising. Besides LinkedIn, it is really hard to find Internship Japan. The rest is very good. THANK YOU for helping people like me.

9. How would you describe or evaluate the difference between internships, kenshuu (研修) or part-time jobs?

First, internships are usually not paid. There are some that are but the purpose of an internship is to get experience on a professional field that you are interested in. Part-time jobs are more for earning money than for getting job experience. Also internships are more like a training than a job there is where you learn how to do the job whereas on part-time jobs in most cases you have to know already how to do your job and have experience.

10. What changes would you think are in need or helpful to those who are seeking internships in Japan?

Better knowledge of English for Japanese Companies and knowledge of Japanese for internships seekers. In some companies I was refused only because I am a foreigner and I hope that will change in the future.


Charlotte Pelleray1. Who are you and what are your dreams? Tell us a little about you!

I’m Charlotte Pelleray, I’m 21. I’m a French student at Inseec BS, a business school in Bordeaux. I am fond of culture and arts, and I would love to combine these interests with my professional project : working in the digital marketing.

2. How did you find/get the internship at 99designs? Did you use an organization to find it?

I was looking for an internship especially in Berlin, because I had heard a lot about this city. My school has a database where we can find all the internships done by the students. I have sent a lot of emails and finally, I found out that one former student of my school has made an internship at 12designers, which is now part of 99designs. I sent my resume, made some interviews and the adventure began!

3. What did you do during your internship and what did you learn? Was it useful for you?

During my three months internship, I had the opportunity to work on both the French digital marketing and the French customer support and account management. I was especially in charge of the community management and the Content Marketing by bringing some fresh air to the French blog. I wrote several articles published on it and I was careful about using keywords for the SEO. I was also taking care of the French Customer Support and Account Management. I was helping customers, giving them information, tips and support by chat, emails and phone.

This internship has been very rewarding. I have learned a lot from this sort of startup environment where everyone is a true piece of the team. It has reassured me in my professional choice of working in the digital marketing and it has given me the opportunity to discover the amazing city of Berlin.

4. Did you have a mentor, that was taking care of you in the office?

Yes, there were 2 people in charge of my internship – who were French. They were helping me a lot at the beginning, but then I also worked with other people in the company and learned a lot from them as well. At the beginning, I think it is good to know that you have someone to rely on – in particular if that person speaks your language.

5. Did you speak German in the office or what other language did you speak?

I didn’t speak a word of German so I was speaking English in the office. As some of my colleagues were French, I also spoke French sometimes.

6. Do you think it makes sense to have a program for internships abroad that combines the internship in a foreign country with learning the foreign language?

From my personal experience, it would help a lot. I spent 3 months in Berlin without speaking German and it was very difficult sometimes in the daily life – even though Berlin is a very multicultural city where almost everyone speaks a bit of English.

For instance, for legal and administrative stuff, not speaking German is not an option. Even for finding a flatshare, it is likely recommended to send emails in the nation speaking language and to be able to communicate with your flatmates. That’s why having, at least, some bases in the foreign language is really important. It gives the opportunity to make the best from your trip abroad.

7. Why did you choose 99designs to make an internship?

Most of all, I wanted to work in the digital domain and Berlin seemed to be a good option for that. There are a lot of companies and startups in that sector and Berlin is now called the European Silicon Valley. When I first found out about 99designs, I thought it was an interesting concept surfing on two main trends : crowdsourcing and ebusiness.

8. Do you recommend internships at all?

oing internships is really important to understand what we would like to do in the future. For instance, I was first studying Law & Political Sciences, but through different internships, I realized that – although it could be really interesting - I wanted to work in something more fun. Internships are also a good way to get out the traditional school system, have the opportunity to work on something that really matters and take responsibilities. Of course, it is a huge strength for a resume as well.

9. What would be your message to later interns at 99designs?

Just enjoy the great opportunity of working in a multicultural company!

10. Would you be interested in an internship in Japan?

I think doing an internship in Japan would be an incredible opportunity to discover a new culture and new trends. Nevertheless, I do think that I might not be that brave to go there by myself without having someone to rely on and without understanding a word of Japanese. That’s why a program like this would make sense.


CarolinaCarolina found out about our very first networking event and came over to make new, useful contacts. She was already in Japan, studied at a Japanese University for half a year. At our event, she met Andrew Woolner from Yokohama Theatre Group (YTG), who already had had an intern through Internship Japan and gave a passionate speech about his experience from view of a director / boss at our event (see his expert interview here).

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

I'm a 26 year old from Germany, where I study Applied Business Languages and International Management B.A. / Japanese. I always hoped to go to Japan one day and thanks to my study I was able to do so.

2. Tell us about your experience at the Internship Japan Networking Event and how you “closed the deal”, meeting Andrew there. How did the process go?

The event was great! But I felt a bit helpless between all the business people. It was a completely new experience for me. But Andrew’s speech really got me. Shortly after the event I sent him an email, asking for the possibility of an internship at YTG and then everything was going really fast. We met, talked about what we expect from the internship and then the deal was closed =)

3. What were the prerequisites for your internship? Any special conditions from your university? Personal?

My internship had to be business oriented (somehow) and between 5 and 6 months, with common working hours. My personal main interest was to do something I really love. Thanks to a scholarship from Germany I do not have to worry about getting paid, so YTG was like the perfect option for me. This was my chance to experience theatre in a completely different way with the possibility to combine it to my study needs.

4. Tell us about the internship “on and off stage”. What did you do? How was your daily work? How was your boss and team?

Working with Andrew and YTG was awesome! My work included more or less office work, but the main part was working on “Kikai-Ga-Shima”, which is YTG's big project for this year. Therefore my job was to be Assistant Stage Manager. I was running the lines with Andrew and Graig, took notes for everything, setting up the stage and taking care of the sound-effects during the show itself. It was a great experience to be part of that. At the moment I am a participant at YTG's Playmaking Workshop, so my work also includes to enter the stage myself, which I really appreciate.

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

Yes, the biggest part of my studies in Germany is Japanese. So I had 2 years to learn Japanese before finally starting my year in Japan, which is mandatory at my University. I would love to come to Japan again, but at the moment I have no idea when this will be possible again. But I definitely want to return one day.

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

Japan was the biggest and greatest experience in my life so far. Everything is different here. The people, the culture, food and air. I learned a lot during this year and all I can say is: Do it! Take that chance and don't be afraid. It's totally worth it.

7. How can we as Internship Japan do better?

I think you are doing a great and important job! It's so hard to find an internship in Japan, so please keep on going =)

8. Do you have any other experiences in searching for an internship in Japan? (Without us, Internship Japan, being involved?)

I think it's quite important to tell that it is really hard to find something. Especially when you are one of 20 people around Tokyo, from the same University in Germany and have to find an internship at the same time. Not counting all the other people who are searching as well. You are competitors. One might get the internship you really would love to do and one have to return home, because s/he was not able to find anything.

Even if you really try hard, some companies just ignore your application. And even if you find an internship, it could happen that they are so uninformed that you have problems getting the right visa and need to wait for 2 months without payment before you can finally start. (Happened in my study group…). There are many problems, that's why I think Internship Japan is so important! Networking, information, that all is necessary to be successful in finding an internship that really makes you happy.


Thank you so much, Carolina-san. We are going on and hope to create many many more opportunities for vibrant young talents like you. We hope to set up a scholarship for art- and culture related unpaid interns as soon as possible. 頑張ります!

anonymousThank you very much for sharing your story anonymously. Please refrain from calling names or anything enabling people from finding out who you are or the company you interned at. The information is still tremendously valuable for us and the “How to have foreign interns” book we are writing now, to teach the companies here how to do it correctly and in favor of the intern. You should have had benefits instead of trouble and sleepless nights at the office. We are against such conditions. Thank you for helping us to change things to the better.

Anonymous-san got in contact with us while already in Japan on a tourist visa, being an intern (before Internship Japan was even founded) with conditions unlikely to be legal, even with gray areas played well by many companies.

1. Please tell us about your education (the field you received your degree in), the country you studied in and why you wanted to intern in Japan.

5-year Diploma of Architecture Engineering, University of Patrai, Greece and 2-year Master of Science in Architecture, Urbanism and Sciences, TUDelft, the Netherlands

2. How was your Japanese language proficiency before you came? Did you learn Japanese in a class while in Japan?

No classes taken. No time or money to attend classes. I was just picking up phrases from my Japanese colleagues.

3. You were already graduated when you came to Japan, so you could not apply for a cultural activities visa, like current students can. Why did you intern after graduation? What was your intention?

I was really intrigued by Japanese architecture and the office that I applied for and worked for in Tokyo is led by two of the best architects worldwide. I grabbed the opportunity so as to establish a good work experience and a strong CV for my next job.

4. Tell us what the company told you about coming to Japan on a tourist visa for an internship. Do they have many tourist-visa interns? Do you think they use this to prevent costs? How about insurance or benefits? Did they cover your transportation at least? Anything?

They usually have around 7 people with a tourist visa (3 months). The office runs on around 25 employees. No insurance, no benefits, no travel costs. They were pretty clear from the beginning about the conditions of work and stay. They suggested that I should buy a bike from another intern that I would replace as his 3 months internship was over. I felt pretty bad when they said that as they were not implying that for my own sake (to save money from public transport). They were saying so as to be prepared to have me able to work late at night when no public transport is available. So yes, it was tough from their part.

5. Did the company tell you before the internship, that they might offer you a full-time position? Did they offer a full-time position in the end? If they did, why didn’t you take the full-time position?

I did not go after it. At the end of the three months I was so sick of being unpaid, working 7 days a week and working 14 hours a day. I had enough, so why continue full time?

6. Why did you agree to their conditions, why didn’t you leave before the internship was finished? It had nothing to do with your graduation, but you still endured it.

See my answer to question number 3.

7. What was positive about this internship if anything, what did you learn?

Great architecture, respect towards my education, abilities and sacrifices to be there.

8. We are not against unpaid internships if it is in non-profits or start-ups for example, but we are against exploitation. There are many things written about paid or unpaid internships. Common thought is that: “If an intern creates value, the company can directly profit from what the intern is doing, it must not be unpaid.” We agree with this, if the company is a profit-making non-start-up and able to pay money or compensate otherwise. Above all, we aim for the Value Add for both parties. But then again, all things depend on the way you see them. So for example if an intern bakes cakes and the company sells the cakes for profit, the intern must not be unpaid. You made models you said. How were the models used and are they “for profit” in your opinion?

The models made where used just for internal use. They were used so as to come up with the final design. That was really useful and I learned a lot. However I do not consider that I should be paid only the models were to be used for exhibition or selling purposes. After my experience I am totally opposed to any unpaid job. Even if it is an non-profit or start-up. We should not confuse the words job and voluntarism.

If I want to volunteer there are so much better world-improving-people saving things I could spend my time and money on.

9. Is it all a common practice in your field, not only in Japan? Have you heard of other interns in similar conditions?

In Japan there are offices that pay a minimum salary for interns. But not all of them. This is something pretty common in other European countries as well. Such as the Netherlands, Greece, France, Germany and Spain. Not in UK though.

10. What do you want Internship Japan to do about this? How could we help the best?

Promote yourselves as much as you can abroad so that people know the conditions before coming to Japan. Try to convince them about the consequences of unpaid work in general, not just for them. Establish relationships with other organisations in Japan and help companies provide salaries to their employees.

11. What do you want to tell graduates in your field willing to intern in Japan? Any message for any other youngster willing to come to Japan?

Come to Japan! Its an incredible place to be and build your working experience. Don’t let your dreams overrule your dignity and pride!

Chelsey1. First, who are you? What are your dreams and why the interest in Japan?

I am Chelsey Winkel, 22 years old. I am from the Netherlands and currently in my last year of my major Communication and Multimedia Design. My next dream/goal is moving to Japan after I graduate this year and to find a music (& entertainment) related, creative and flexible job, so I can work on setting up my freelance business here as well. I’d love to get into lots of different creative projects here (so if you want to do something fun hit me up!). And getting my Japanese to native level of course!

Why the interest in Japan? Hmmm…People always ask me this! And I always have a rough time explaining it. It’s just such a strong feeling that I since I was a kid. I was a huge Pokémon fan (I still am actually) and loved all other ‘anime’ on TV as well. They were dubbed though and I didn’t know back then that they were actually Japanese. I got my mom involved in the Pokémon trading card game and she even got me Japanese Pokémon cards! I remember it looking like some ancient gibberish to me (is this some weird Pokémon language I don’t know?). So, somehow, everything I loved as a kid, including games and other things, came from this amaaaazing country that I didn’t even know about yet!

I grew up and got a PC with internet at home and at some point I learned that these TV animations I loved where Japanese and where called “anime”. I started watching anime in Japanese and slightly got more and more involved with the culture. I was around 12 years old when I discovered this Finnish band called HIM who blew my mind and settled my taste in music and fashion for the rest of my life. My English has been good from a very young age so around that time I started chatting online with foreigners in English. I met a Thai guy with whom I shared my musical interests with (YouTube just started). Based on the Western bands I listened to he send me a video of a Japanese Visual Kei band called Buck-Tick. Again, my mind was COMPLETELY blown! Visual Kei and anime really made me fell in love with the language (and everything else) and from this point on my passion for Japan really grew with the day. It became my biggest dream and goal to go this incredible country and to learn the language fluently. I always felt like it’d be the place where I’d belong. In 2014, at age 21, I finally made it come true. And it really felt like coming home.

2. Tell us about the planning and process.

To be able to graduate I needed to find and follow an internship. Basically, you need to work on a project for about 4 months and write a final report about it, which then will be examined and graded. Based on this you will either graduate or not.

I made my dream of coming to Japan come true by working hard to find a way to do my minors here in my 3rd year. I managed to get into the Asian Studies Program at Kansai Gaidai, Osaka, in 2014, through another major that’s part of my university. That time, I had already planned out that I’d wanted to start my graduation internship in November so I’d be able to graduate (hopefully) before summer 2015. While studying in Osaka I started looking for an internship in the music & entertainment business, here in Japan because I already knew I wanted to go back ASAP as soon as I got back to the Netherlands. Doing an internship here would be a great way to gain working experience in this country as well. While being in Osaka, I send lots of letters and mails, mainly to companies related to the Visual Kei industry, because I’d love to be involved in this world in a creative way. I spend months doing this and got back to the Netherlands without finding anything. I didn’t quit looking for a way to do my graduation internship here in Tokyo though. Through my network in the Netherlands, I ended up getting contacted by someone who had worked at Sony and told me he might be able to help me get an internship at Sony Corp. in Tokyo. He told me he didn’t have contacts at Sony Music & Entertainment though, but at this point I was nearing my school’s (and my own) deadlines so I just had to make this work. Soon after that, people from Sony Digital Imaging contacted me, and during our very first Skype call they immediately decided they wanted to try this with me. I had to take care of everything real fast; visa, a place to live (this was tough), plane tickets, school, contracts etc. I am still amazed I managed everything on time! My internship started on November 17th 2014 and will end on March 6th 2015. After this I will go back to the Netherlands and hopefully graduate and move to Japan.

3. What were the prerequisites for your internships? Any special conditions from your university? Personal?

Actually, there weren’t any. I got hired based on my network’s recommendations, my Japanese resume and on the conversation I had with the managers through Skype. My university also doesn’t really have any special conditions apart from having to do a project of about 4 months. They actually recommend you not to do your graduation internship abroad since it’s really uncommon for other countries to do an internship like this. But they ‘recommend’ you to not do a lot of things, and I did them all just fine so I just saw another opportunity to go to Japan and do something awesome.

4. Tell us about the internship at Sony Corp. What did you do? How is your daily work? How is your boss?

My main project, basically, is optimizing the website of one of the Digital Imaging products, the Action Cam. I spend most of my time setting up a benchmark/competitor analysis and analyzing the website based on methods I’ve learned. Since this is the first time they have a (Dutch) intern in this way, I’m not engulfed with work. But apart from my main project I get some simple side projects every now and then. My colleagues and bosses are nice, I expected there to be more ‘nomikai’ though to be honest haha. This wouldn’t be my dream job, but Sony is awesome, I love gaining new experiences AND, more importantly, I’m living in Tokyo! So really, I have no complaints!

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

I study Japanese every single day while being here! Just by listening and writing down things I learn from my surroundings. I ask a lot of things I don’t know how to say or ask for explanation when I don’t understand something. When I’m texting (LINE) with people I know and I don’t know how to tell them something, I always try to find out how to. Through all of this I learn new words, grammar and kanji.
I did bring my study books with me (Genki II haha) but I have barely used them (only for kanji so far). It’s more fun to learn Japanese this way after all. But I should finish my book though …
And yes, of course I will be back! Hopefully ASAP! I do want to be back here at least after summer but I don’t know what time will bring me so we’ll see how it all turns out.

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

Well, to explain it shortly, when I get back to the Netherlands I suffer a huge reverse culture shock. It took me a few months to get back on my feet again after coming back from Osaka last year. So my answer is a bit boring and one-sided maybe.

I haven’t had any bad experiences here and I don’t feel like a foreigner or outsider at all. Even though I have green eyes and am not fluent in the language yet. I even feel kind of weird when seeing other foreigners and Japanese rarely speak in English to me. I feel more like an outsider in my own country than here to be quite honest.

But there are probably 2 things that I can think of that Japan’s modern society should change in my opinion: sexual education and English. This message will become very long if I have to explain my opinion and thoughts about this so let’s leave it at that, haha. But I do have to say this, to everyone who is less well known with the country or basically: isn’t that much of a Japanophile like I am. When you decide to come here, realize this:

This is a whooooooole different world you’re getting yourself into. I am not joking. There is no way you can compare this country and culture with any other country or culture in the world. Whenever I go back to the Netherlands I feel like I time traveled (I did actually because time zones and stuff you know) and ended up back again in the part of the universe I don’t like.

Knowing the culture and the language will most definitely benefit you and enable you to enjoy the country and culture more though. Especially if you’re only going here for a short amount of time. But yes, be curious, come to Japan, explore this amazing new world and fall in love with it like I did!

7. How can we as Internship Japan do better?

I think you’re doing a great job! I’ve been so close to getting an internship through the LinkedIn group, the people are amazing! It warms my heart to see that people are so willingly to help other people get where they want to be. It’s exactly the way how I stand in life. So at the moment I have no idea how Internship Japan could do better!

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