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Office Odyssey in Japan

July 7, 2009
Crowded Morning Train in Tokyo

Crowded Morning Train in Tokyo

               This week,  I started work at my internship with the Japanese Marketing Research Association. I can’t explain how my life changed after the first day in my office. It was one of those days that made me realize that there are many  more opportunities in life yet to come. After taking all of those Japanese classes and  sitting in the classroom for years, I was finally in the real world using my business and language skills. Even though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do,  I was ready to do something and this is it. 

             Though I love my work, I have to tell you that it is quite an odyssey getting to the office. I have to get from Keisei-Koiwa onto Keisei-sen, then from here, change trains in Nippori onto Yamanote-sen the busiest line in all Tokyo. From there, I go towards Tokyo/Shinagawa station for about 5 stations all the way to Kanda. What a trip!

           Starting in the office was very interesting for me and the other employees, as internships aren’t very common in Japan, let alone an international iternship.  They didn’t know what to expect from me and I didn’t know what to expect from them. It was then that I just decided to get my self busy and jump in. I saw a couple of activities that I could give them a hand with and they smiled at me. After that, they considered me as part of their team. I am now included in all the office activities, including meetings, parties, tasks, etc.

                 In the first week at my office, my coworkers took me out to a Japanese restaurant and showed me the old traditions of Japan. We had a couple of drinks in one of the best restaurants in Kanda. It is very important in Japanese business culture to socialize with each other. I have to say that I am very excited about the industry and the people that I’m meeting. Best of all, to have them invite me out for a drink!

            Something that was very challenging for me at first was answering the phone. There is a girl in my office that lived in New York for a couple of years and she likes to challenge me. So it was her idea that I should answer the phone. Though it may seem simple, answering the phone is a pretty difficult task at first, as you have to understand someone speak without the context of body or physical expressions. The first time I did it the client in the other end of the line got mad at me and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to find the nearest emergency exit and just run away. However, by the third call I felt confident about it and today I can say that I am very close to mastering the art of answering the phone for my Japanese company.

            The company I am interning with  is an association that controls the conduct of all the marketing research companies in Japan. For this they have seminars and other kinds of trainings. I felt really challenged when my boss asked me to get into one of the seminars and be part of it. All I had in my mind was to be positive, but I was very nervous. I guess I “just did it.”In the power point presentation a big title saying TOKEIGAKU and I was surprised to find out that I was in a STATISTICS training. It reminded me of facing off in front of all my Japanese and math professors from my many years of school, all at the same time.

Me at the Office

Me at the Office

 

     That’s it for my office adventures this week. Keep posted forthe next blog and thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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