Media Intern Opportunities
Today's column is a plug for one of my other interests besides job advisory: the media. I started publishing back in June 1994 because I was frustrated with the lack of quality information out there about Japan. What really got me going was the fact that foreign firms were employing over 1 million people in Japan, and yet there was little or no informed opinion or forum for the management of those foreign firms to understand how Japan really works – and what is just urban myth.
My first magazine was called Computing Japan and became a respected player in the English-language market. But as I found out, there are not that many foreign computer types around in Japan, perhaps several thousand at best, and so in 1999 we shut down CJ and started a new publication called Japan Inc. magazine – which is still going strong today. Apart from the paper magazine, which has a readership of over 50,000 people, we also have a group of surprisingly successful web sites – including www.japan.com -- and 9 weekly newsletters. One of them, Terrie's Take, I write myself, sending it out to the mail server every Sunday night – which my poor long-suffering wife has long had to accept! You can get it at www.terrie.com.
Right now the Japan Inc. team has several positions open for unpaid internships for 3-6 months to both Japanese speakers wanting to experience working in an English-language environment, and Japanese-speaking foreigners hoping for a chance to get started here. The work varies according to prior experience, but can include some administration, marketing, direct sales, account management, creative work, and writing.
The Japan Inc. office is in Minami-Aoyama, and modest space not far from the Fuji Film Headquarters on Roppongi Dori. The working environment is primarily English, although almost all clients, vendors, and partners are Japanese and thus need our staff to be able to speak both English and Japanese. Computer know-how is a must, as is a sense of humor and a desire to learn.
Why do an internship, and an unpaid one at that? Well, unless you have practical experience and decent language skills, the Tokyo media business is a rather small and closed market. Most magazine start-up teams are drawn from networks of friends and from existing publishing firms, so getting hired means you need to find a way into the community, then establish your reputation in the industry. This situation holds true for both the foreign and Japanese media.
Not getting paid is of course a downside. But it does allow both you and the company to take a more relaxed view of your contribution to the team. This may be an important consideration if you really have no experience, but you do have the financial support.
Being an intern is no excuse, however, to be lazy or unreliable. All disruptions cost time and money, and although you're not being paid, the person training you and overseeing your work certainly is – and that represents a burden to the company and thus a responsibility by you. What you need to do if you need some flexibility within your internship, is to pre-negotiate the terms of your coming onboard BEFORE you start. If the department head knows that you're only going to be in attendance between 09:00 am and 13:00, they'll be happy when you have to head out for afternoon classes.
Another strong reason to intern is that humans being what they are, familiarity can breed friendship, and thus you are more likely to be at the top of the list if the company decided to hire more people. Thus interning can open a career for you at your company of choice. The Japan Inc. management is indeed planning to grow the business, and thus the chance to show what you are capable of, especially over a 6-month period, is very real.