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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