One of the aims of the ROMA workshop is to demonstrate the qualities of oreign students who are looking to build a career in Japan. We want to educate them that foreign students are just like students here in Japan,
with their own characters and dreams; they want to stay in Japan because they love the culture, the language, the people and can see themselves living here for the foreseeable future. We want the companies to see
that foreign students have interesting personalities, are able to work in a team, have great ideas and can contribute to any company they work for.
But what are Japanese companies looking for in foreign students?
When we ask companies why they want to hire international students, the most common answer we get is, “To obtain the best talent regardless of their nationalities.” We also get answers like needing to contribute to
the international strength of the business and the necessity of utilizing foreign languages to conduct business. These answers indicate a growing need for diverse strategies and an international outlook.
As I have told many of you that I have met, all the companies attending our workshops have overseas operations. There are also some companies who are planning to expand their business overseas, and they feel that they need to hire people who are not only familiar with the local affairs of their own country but who are equally well-versed in the Japanese culture.
Many of these companies employ a similar recruitment standard for international students as they do for Japanese employees. This means that international students have the same opportunities in their career
path for promotion and pay rises as their Japanese counterpart.
At the same time, it also means that there is no excuse given for any linguistic or cultural deficiencies, so I highly recommend you keep studying your Japanese.
However, some companies are specifically looking for attributes that are unique to foreigners, as well as companies that have extensive overseas operations. These companies look for foreign students who could one day become experts in overseas business transactions, and the potential is there that an international student may one day assume the role of a senior executive or branch manager in the overseas subsidiary.
The standard of Japanese proficiency that Japanese companies are looking for in international students are a level where they are able to write business reports and business letters and where they are able to conduct
business in Japanese. In other words, almost all Japanese companies look for a level of Japanese proficiency which exceeds that of everyday conversation.
So once again, let me stress how important it is for all of you to keep on studying and improving your Japanese ability. Not just conversation but improving your reading and writing skills, too. Pay attention as you go about your daily life, when you are talking to people, your tutors, your friends etc. Get your native Japanese friends
to correct your Japanese whenever you make a mistake. It`s the best way to learn. Look around you and try and study the kanji you see; try and read a Japanese newspaper or other publication. Perhaps a Japanese
magazine that caters to your interest, or even a manga.
The image most Japanese companies seem to have with regards to foreign students is positive. They like their motivation to work, their skill sets, and their international perspectives. We want to showcase this during our workshops while the companies are observing. We want them to see that foreign students can add value to
their companies and they should fully utilize the open-mindedness and cultural skill sets of these students in their approach to work.
However, some companies also have a negative image of international students. They worry about their lack of cooperation, lack of company loyalty, poor Japanese language ability and poor retention rate. The last in particular, as many Japanese companies worry that they will spend time and money training foreign students, only to have them leave the company after one or two years.
Foreign students are also known for their self-assertiveness. This can be a good thing but it must be tempered. Too strong and it can create an imbalanced employee. It is good to clearly express your opinions but at
the same time, try to preserve a sense of cooperation and teamwork. It is important to create a balanced approach to interpersonal relationships, and not to disturb the harmony within the company.