8 Things I Wish I had Known Before Applying to Jobs / Internships

In this job market, the only way to distinguish yourself with other college graduates it with a previous job or internship. This sounds simple enough; the real problem comes from actually finding said job.

1. Why do you want a job / internship? Is it for:

A. Money

B. Job experience

C. Something to do

I wasn’t interested in the money; I wanted job experience and something fun to do. Most study abroad students who are working at legitimate Japanese companies as an intern had similar interests.

2. If you are interested in money, try to find a part-time job not at a company. Restaurants and other service-related jobs are a great way to make money. Part-time jobs give a considerably higher success rate (at least money-wise).

3. If you are interested in job experience or something to do, there are a variety of ways you can find an internship. These are the ones I have either tried or had friends try.

  1. Through friends or other students
    For more information, click here
  2. Through teachers
    For more information, click here
  3. Send out cold-call emails to companies
    For more information, click here.
  4. Look online
    For more information, click here
  5. Craigslist (for whatever city you live in)
    For more information, click here

4. Network, Network, Network. Pride is one of the first things you have to “let go” when you job hunt – even just for internships. You lose all the potential jobs you don’t ask for.

I like to say I found my internship by accident; I was on a late night train ride home with a girl I had just met who was talking about her internship. I interrupted, asking if they needed anyone else. She sent them an email that night; I went into my first “interview” two days later.

However, she wasn’t the first person I had asked. Before her, I has asked countless friends, teachers, and vague acquaintances if they knew of any internships.

And now that I have an internship, I have countless people asking me if my company has any openings. That’s just how it works.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask. I guarantee most the friends, professors, companies, or advertisements you inquire about will reject you. That is what happens with job hunting. Don’t take it personal and keep trying.

I find it helpful to keep a little notebook of all the companies I’ve applied to and people I have asked. I tried to mark off at least one a day my first couple months in Japan.

Almost a month after my first semester at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan, I got an internship. Four months later, I got another internship (writing, not doing working at an “official” company). Never be afraid to ask. You lose every job you don’t actively persue.

6. Rejection isn’t a personal attack. I think I’m awesome. Most companies I apply to don’t necessarily think I’m awesome, though.

They give a variety of reasons, “not enough experience,” “we are looking for someone who can give at least a year’s commitment,” “not a high enough level of spoken business Japanese,” or “your face looks weird” (I made this last one up). Taking this form of profession rejection personally is pointless. While I think that companies shouldn’t hold my lack of Japanese or limited availability against me, they can. And they will.

This rejection is professional, not personal. Job hunting is a seller’s market; for every job I apply for, countless others also do. They can’t hire all of us; I can’t stop them from hiring a Japanese-speaking foreigner with loads of job experience and who permanently reside in Tokyo.

7. No news is NOT good news. No news means no. Most companies I apply for don’t even bother to email be back saying “No thanks.”

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Don’t stop applying for jobs because you’ve “applied to 30, so surely one of them is going to hire me.” Hopefully they will. But maybe they won’t. And even worse, maybe none of the 30 companies will even bother sending a rejection email.

So while you just spend two weeks checking your email seven times a day and fantasizing about what you’re going to spend your first paycheck on, some of your potential job-hunting competitors might have snagged a job you actually qualified for.

You can never apply to too many jobs (especially if it is just as simple as sending a resume and standard cover letter).

8. It will all be worth it once you get a job. Getting rejected from a job sucks. It’s even worse when the company doesn’t even bother to email back.

But as much as it hurts being rejected, once you get a job it will all be worth it. Getting hired is one of the best feelings in the world, not just because an extra source of income will be coming in (if it is a paid internship or job), but also because getting hired is real, concrete proof that someone else thinks you are important.

Getting hired means someone values your opinion, your work habits, or even just your ability to do manual labor. Getting hired means that someone values you.

And that’s a great feeling.

Add me on Google Plus: +Grace Buchele

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One response to “8 Things I Wish I had Known Before Applying to Jobs / Internships

  1. Pingback: How to find a Job, Internship, or “Baito” in Tokyo (Japan) | Texan in Tokyo·

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