I have two main vices. The first is my undying love for Starbucks, in spite of the merciful pleas from my wallet. The second is my (lowkey) obsession with LinkedIn. Last year, I saw many of my peers posting job updates, landing exciting internships relevant to their field. This inspired me to seek out an internship of my own. Luck was on my side because in May I received a mass e-mail from the Asian Studies department about an internship in Tokyo! The moment I read the job description, I knew it was right up my alley. I don’t think I’ve ever submitted a job application so quickly!
After interviewing for the position, I periodically contacted my new employer throughout the summer to stay in touch and work out a schedule for after my arrival in Tokyo. While I had some concerns about balancing the workload with school, my classes at the University of Tokyo didn’t begin until late September. This gave me ample time to get acquainted with my office responsibilities and assess whether I could continue once classes started. Still, I had multiple friends tell me “You’re insane” when I shared that I’d be doing an internship while at school.
Although being an intern has forced me to cut back on activities like school clubs, I’ve loved the experience because of all the great people I’ve met over the past few months. Because the organization I intern with is Canadian, I’ve become well-acquainted with the Canadian community in Tokyo. Last month, a classmate, after asking me about my internship, snidely said: “Oh, so you came all the way to Japan just to meet Canadians?” I understood his reasoning, but couldn’t help but feel offended! It’s due to my organization that I’ve been able to meet likeminded people with an interest in Canada and Japan.
I’m so thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to be an intern this fall and find a community I didn’t expect to find. It was my first time working in an office environment, and I’ve learned a lot on everything from event planning to promotions. But perhaps most importantly, the office had a stash of maple leaf cookies. Whether you have time for an internship or not, I recommend reaching out to Canadians in your community or U of T alumni if you choose to go abroad. The nice Canadian stereotype holds true, even off Canadian soil.