Posts Tagged ‘work’

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Working at a Japanese factory for one month gave me a unique insight into a special part of Japanese society; full of chain smokers, machine-slaves and endless conversations with myself.

Meine einmonatige Arbeit an eine Japanischen Fabrik gab mir einen einzigartigen Einblick in einen sehr speziellen Bereich der japanischen Gesellschaft, voll von Kettenrauchern, Maschinensklaven und jeder Menge Selbstgespräche.

Two months ago I started working at a Japanese manufacturer (check out my first month). Even though I already entered the sales department of the company, I had to work for more than a month at one of our factories as part of my training program. I thought it would be a brilliant way to get out of the office and get some firsthand experience. And believe me, I gained experience that will last a lifetime!

Vor zwei Monaten begann ich meine Karriere bei einem japanischen Manufakturunternehmen (seht euch meinen ersten Monat an). Obwohl ich schon vom Sales Department eingestellt wurde, sollte ich noch im Rahmen meines Trainingsprogrammes für einen Monat an einer unserer Fabriken arbeiten. Ich dachte, dass mir das eine einmalige Möglichkeit geben würde um mal aus dem Büro rauszukommen und Erfahrungen aus erster Hand bekommen. Und glaubt mir, die Erfahrungen, die Ich sammeln konnte reichen für ein ganzes Leben.

The Machine-Goddess

Have you ever seen the movie METROPOLIS? No, well it’s about time for you to do it! I never thought that an 87 years old movie (!!!) could capture my feelings in such a strong way, but as soon as I started my first week at the factory I thought: I am caught in Metropolis. My first job was to stack little metal tubes on top of each other and to put them into a machine. A little bit like Jenga for adults. The man, who showed me how to do it was a nice little grand-dad, probably just one year away from his retirement; but gosh he was so quick in doing it. And then he said “I’ll be right back” and gave me a cheeky smile…The next 4 hours he was never seen again and I was stuck with a machine that was eating my metal tubes much quicker than I could stack. This was the day when the machine became my goddess (in German the word machine is female). Every day I would talk to the machine, pray to the machine to let me stack my little tubes really quick, swear at the machine when it was too quick for me and hope that it would break down just for a couple of minutes, so I could gain a little break from stacking. I was working at the machine and for the machine….never with it. The machine became my master, telling me when I would get a break and when not, and I; I was its humble servant. (more…)

Testing the products...

Testing the products…

When I arrived a month ago in Japan I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was: I am going to work at a Japanese company, for many many years! After a 3 days long special introduction to the company I finally met the other new employees that entered the company the same year. I received a super warm welcome from everybody and despite starting 4 months later than them they made me feel like being a part of the family from my very first day. Thanks to their help, support and patience, especially regarding my very low Japanese understanding, I was able to master all the challenges of my first month and actually enjoyed it quite a lot.

Als ich vor mehr als einem Monat in Japan ankam, hatte ich noch keine Ahnung was mich erwarten würde. Ich wusste nur: Ich werde in einer japanischen Firma arbeiten, und das für viele viele Jahre! Nach einer 3 Tage langen Einführung in das Unternehmen, konnte ich endlich die anderen Neuankömmlinge, die auch dieses Jahr anfangen, kennen lernen. Alle hießen mich herzlichst willkommen und obwohl sie schon 4 Monate vor mir angefangen haben, gaben sie mir sofort das Gefühl ein Teil der neuen Familie zu sein. Nur dank ihrer Hilfe, Unterstützung und Geduld, vor allem im Zusammenhang mit meinem schlechten Japanisch-Verständnis, war ich in der Lage den ersten Monat erfolgreich zu überstehen und sogar zu genießen.

All in all the first month felt like being back at school. Every day we received lectures about various topics, ranging from “Japanese Business Manner” to “The 7 Ways of Success” and even one lecture on “How to read a Newspaper properly”. Since they were all held in Japanese my biggest challenge was to make an interested looking face even if I only understood fractures of what was going on and never to fall asleep. So basically just like University.


I started my journey at Limbo, the midpoint between two different worlds, the dividing line between my past live and an unknown future… or in my case the Berlin Airport. 30 minutes ago I was still in my own house, surrounded by people that speak my language, understand my habits and culture. That is all gone now. I am at the one place that no one really wants to stay long at, unless he is hiding from the NSA, and I know as soon as I board the plane there is no turning back: A new life awaits me…

Ich begann meine Reise im Limbo, dem Mittelpunk zwischen zwei unterschiedlichen Welten, die feine Line zwischen meinem bereits gelebten Leben und einer unbekannten Zukunft… oder in meinem Fall der Flughafen Berlin Tegel. Vor 30 Minuten war ich noch in meinem eigenen Haus, umgeben von Menschen, die meine Sprache, Gewohnheiten und Kultur verstehen konnten. Das ist nun alles Vergangenheit. Ich bin an den einen Ort angekommen, an dem eigentlich niemand so recht lange bleiben möchte, es sei denn er versteckt sich vor der NSA, und ich weiß sobald ich in das Flugzeug steige gibt es kein Zurück mehr: Ein neues Leben erwartet mich…


Ueno at night


Being able to work in Japan as a foreigner can be a long and nerve-racking process! There are many different websites and blogs (further down is a list of useful sites) on how to get a Job in Japan, but I have the feeling that around 90% of these sites only talk about teaching positions. What about NON-teaching jobs? What kinds of jobs are there? How can I apply for a job in Japan? What skills do I need to bring? I am certainly not able to answer all the questions regarding Job-hunting in Japan. However what I can do is to share my own experience in the field of Shuukatsu (就活, Japanese job hunting) and how I got a workplace there. If you really want to work in Japan you have to keep the 6 P’s in mind!

Have a PLAN

Just as with every kind of job hunting it is important to have a plan. The most important question you have to ask yourself apart of “Do I really want to work in Japan?” is “When do I want to start?” If you want apply for teaching positions with the JET it is often enough if you ‘only’ apply 9-6 months in advance. However if you are looking for a non-teaching Job in a Company the application period becomes usually much longer. Japanese people tend to start applying for jobs 2 years in advance. I myself got my job offer a year in advance. That does not mean that you cannot apply later, but the earlier the start the better! Most companies have also only one date during the year when they welcome all their new employees (usually in April). So it is important for you to keep in mind for what year and period you will apply for. This however can be also negotiable. My company allowed me to join them 4 months later then everybody else, but again that was an exception rather than the rule of Japanese companies.


The Atumn Term Newsletter 2011 of the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent features an article called “Spotlight on Internships” written by me. In the article I describe the experience I made during my Summer Internship at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy .

You can find the original document here (PAGE 3) together with a nice picture when I was 18…

by Jan Tzschichhold

During my first year of International Relations I thought it would be a good idea to do an internship. I thought that it would be important to gain some working experience, to learn practical skills and to get an insight on real work. And more than anything I thought that everybody would welcome me with open arms. I mean I was willing to work for several months, without any payment. Somebody surely must want me to work for them. I was so naïve…

In the beginning I wasn’t quite sure where to start. Where could a politics student do an internship? After hours of brainstorming I reached the point that every wannabe Intern will eventually reach: I tiped “Internship International relations” into Google. A whole new world opened up for me. A world so vast and full of information that it was quite difficult to find exactly what I was looking for. A world that was not only full of opportunities but also full of disappointment. Most internships were unavailable for first years. Students that want to start as early as possible to gain crucial experience that could help them on how to specify in their degree are often turned down straight away. Some organisations even only accept Master students, that have favourably already done a couple of years work experience. I tried to apply for some international organisations in Germany, but they did not want to employ Germans. When I applied for international organisations in England they turned me down because I wasn’t English. (more…)