A Look into My Summer 2018 Internship

**Feel free to skip to the 4th paragraph to dive into the topic directly.**

A few months before my 2018 summer break, I had already set a goal for myself – to obtain work experience and to build my career profile. My parents are both entrepreneurs in their own rights, so I had heard a lot from them on how ‘fortunate’ I am to be inside the ‘greenhouse’ throughout my whole life. Perhaps I have inherited the ‘warrior gene’ (this attributes to my persistence, can-do attitude and no, it is not a resemblance of the mutated gene which causes psychiatric disorder) from my parents, my urge to prove my value eventually transformed into a real action, actively seeking for the internship opportunities overseas.

At that time, I really wanted to try something really challenging and life-changing. Although I had a certain level of marketing, management skills which I had acquired from my parents and through self-education on top of my problem solving, analytical skills from the major that I was pursuing, my job history was just a plain white field on a paper. I was fortunate enough to come across an advertisement from an agency which helps foreigners to search for placements in Japan. When I started my application, the deadline was already fast approaching. I was an engineering sophomore, so my initial choices were of course engineering related jobs. However, the agency told me that it was impossible to look for one since those fields require high language (Japanese) requirement and their stringent policy means that I would have to go for other alternatives. Since my dad is into the real estate business, I thought that by working at a Japanese real estate company, I can acquire useful insights which could be beneficial for his business.

Soon, the Japanese share house company got into contact with me and we had an interview session. They asked a few questions on my interest in real estates and my hobbies. It was more like a casual chat rather than a typical interview. (I was quite curious about why would they take me in the first place, but I later learnt that because they really needed someone who was proficient in analysing and dealing with data. For those people who are still wondering why do we engineers have a broad range of work opportunities, this is the reason.)

I packed my stuff and travelled to Japan on the 13th of June 2018. It did not take me long before I fell in love with this land of the rising sun. When I first started working at the share house company, I mainly worked on the preparation of documents, translation and correction of Japanglish. Not long after working here, I realised that no one was able to tell me about how to apply my skills to benefit the company. So, I took the initiative to perform research on my own whenever I was free and presented the results during company meetings. I was given the freedom to do whatever I wanted for the company, so there was really nothing hindering me. My boss is an open-minded person so you won’t see the typical Japanese bureaucracy here. Her strict demeanour at work is a disguise of her loving personality. We had exchanged thoughts on the problems and the challenges faced by the modern Japanese society. (She actually published a book on human reproduction, which will be given to the couples who register their marriage in the Shinjuku area. Quite an amazing achievement if you ask me.) Having talked to her a few times, I came to believe that my dream, as absurd as it may seem, could possibly be achieved if I work hard enough and have an unwavering faith in myself.

When I worked there, my company had a partnership project with an education company in Japan. Being part of the project myself, I had the opportunity to meet and also network with students from the top universities in the world. It was interesting to learn about how the universities, especially those in the US, deliver education to the students. Their burning passion and their willingness to share made them fun to talk to. One of my responsibilities was to organise events for them, and I also had the privilege to join them. We had a great night in Hakone, one of the most touristic places around two hours of train ride away from Tokyo (it has a few hot springs and traditional Japanese hotels, so I highly recommend this place if you have the chance to visit Tokyo). Being an organiser of the cooking classes, I had the chance to learn along with them on the preparation of Japanese food. Another memorable event was the Tokyo Bay Cruise, which gave us the opportunity to enjoy the night view of the Tokyo Bay area (could have taken a few good photos there, but my iPhone camera turned into a potato at night.)

When I was not at work, I often joined my colleagues in the house meetings and the BBQ events. Grilling meat gets more intense when you know you can’t screw up since everyone relies on you. (My colleague Satoru with his ‘get this thing done now’ attitude gave me lots of troubles because he would throw everything onto the same spot. That’s not barbecuing, pal!)

Throughout my time working there (in fact, I’m still working remotely for the company as a part-timer), I was more like an employee rather than an intern because I often had to give myself a goal or objective every week. I worked along with the other colleagues, overcoming countless challenges such as arranging for housing for some 180 people, planning events and solving conflicts between house residents. I was also a social media manager throughout my time there, keeping people informed about the events happening every week. I also wrote English blogs for my company as a strategy to improve the SEO of our website. My analytical skill was being put to good use as I took the initiative myself to carry out a market research for the company.

I am always interested in business but I chose to go for a major in engineering. I had no regret choosing chemical engineering over business because chemical engineering is a very versatile major and it gives me a strong foundation of logical thinking which can be applied to many areas including business. I also pick up knowledge on business management on my own by reading books (I doubt I’ll still read books on business if I had chosen to go for a major in business instead).

Alright, that’s it from me this time. My semester has already started and I’m currently eyeing on a summer analyst position at JPMorgan in either Singapore or Hong Kong. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to successfully pass all the interviews. Life is just getting busier with no sign of slowing down.

Till next time.

Abel

 

 

 

Reasons Why I Love Living in a Share House

During my fresher year at my university, I stayed in a flat. We had a common room in which we used to hang out whenever there was any event. We also had a shared laundry room. I managed to get to know a lot of people in my first week. It was all nice chatting with people from different countries but this blissful experience did not last until the second week of my stay. The common room had become so dirty that I had to lift my foot for each step I walked in the room. The laundry room was so full that I had to dry my clothes in my room. Worse, bottles of milk in the refrigerators leaked, releasing unbearable odour each time I opened the refrigerator door(s). For the rest of my stay, my fresh groceries spent most of their time with rotten food. When I moved out in September 2017, I could even find food which had already expired in November 2016.

First month living in my hall, I had already decided that I had to move out in the upcoming semester. I simply couldn’t stand this anymore. All those nights of my indirect marijuana intake due to flatmates smoking them in the corridor have to come to an end. At that time, little did I know that my future housemates were the most awesome people I could have ever meet in my whole life. Below are a few reasons why I prefer living in a share house:

  • Develop your sense of responsibility

When I first moved into a share house from a flat, there was no longer someone to take care of the cleanliness of my kitchen and bathrooms. No one will replace all those used toilet paper rolls for us. We had to make an inventory list for our share house. It might sound a little bit intimidating at first, but in the long run, you are going to become more self-reliant and responsible. Personally, I feel that living in a share house is the first step towards adulthood.

  • Build a family-like friendship with your housemates

Living far away from my country, it feels good to have a group of people celebrating festivals such as Chinese New Year, Christmas and Mid-Autumn Festival together with me in a foreign country. My share house also has a really cool dining area in which we always invite our guests over to have dinner together. It also helps me to broaden my network of people, helping me to get to know all those people who I would have never met throughout my university life. Occasionally, we’ll organize a trip to visit other places in the United Kingdom.

  • You’ll be more motivated to try on different things

Throughout my stay in my share house in the UK, I was more willing to try out different kinds of dishes to impress my housemates. They also gave me the motivation to do things which I would not have done otherwise, such as going as far as Tokyo to have my internship. They were always there to give me support whenever I felt lost. Having them around me gives me the energy to take on more difficult challenges.

  • I loved the diversity

Since we were all studying different courses at our university, our skill was one of the things that I enjoyed the most. We had an architect, an electrical engineer, two chemical engineers and a pharmacist. For a curious person like me,  there was always someone who could answer my questions, though my pharmacist-to-be always returned my question with 10 more questions. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed talking to every single one of them and if you’re reading this, I want to thank you for being with me in 2017-2018.

  • Greater exposure to different cultures

Let me be honest with you, sometimes it can be quite difficult for you to blend yourself into a group of people with a similar cultural background. Guess what, staying together in a share house could very possibly solve this problem for you! Ideally, you wouldn’t want to stay with a large group of people who have already known each other for a long time because you might be left out in conversations and group activities. A group of 5-6 is ideal because it offers diversity and also leaves everyone plenty of opportunities to get acquainted with each other.

BUT there is still something that I want to tell you. My experience could be highly unique and you might or might not experience the same thing when you move into a share house. Despite that, you should open yourself to other people. I wouldn’t say I’m an introvert by birth, but I am definitely not the kind of people who talk much. But, I’m willing to take the first step to approach other people when deemed necessary. I wouldn’t have known my best mate at the university if I didn’t initiate a conversation with him when he was alone. It still saddens me whenever I think of my graduation next year because we’ll be separated. Nonetheless, I wish you all the best if you’re moving into a share house! It’s going to be exciting despite occasional tiffs 😉