Overcoming a wall has given me confidence

Yuki Yokota
Fourth year, Department of Global Studies, Faculty of Global Studies
(prospective employee of JALUX Inc.)

Study abroad, extracurricular activities, clubs, volunteer work, internships – fulfilling their dreams to grow themselves as individuals. In these seven conversations, students who have challenged themselves speak about how they’ve changed and grown from enrollment to the present.

A year in Norway: cultivating strength through effort

English was always my strength, and I knew I wanted to participate in an exchange program even if it meant delaying my graduation. I wanted to improve my English skills even more, gain more vitality and adaptability skills in an environment completely foreign to me, and live in northern Europe, which is known for its advanced welfare system, to learn about social security and welfare. To achieve all this, I chose Norway, but the world was in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic then. The university told me that the program was suspended, but I prepared my visa and air tickets just in case. Then, a week before the departure, I was notified that I could go due to special measures taken by the university! My dream came true when I started my journey as an international student in August of my third year at school.

The shared house I lived in had a diverse international community. In addition to Norwegian students, there were students from Greece, Italy, Kazakhstan, Ghana, and so on. Living with people that I could not meet otherwise was a completely new experience. As an outgoing person, I was able to comfortably blend in. Conversely, I struggled to adapt to the active teaching style commonly found in overseas classrooms. Unlike Japanese lectures where we sit and listen quietly, lectures there involved group discussions with students who were native English speakers. I had difficulty speaking up. I was confident in my English skills, but in a global setting, there are many people who are better than you. Being aware of the skill gap between students from around the world and me, I spent every day feeling frustrated.

This led me to make small efforts every day. I prepared for classes by reading various books and practiced discussions over and over again with the help of my roommates. My daily efforts paid off—at the end, I was able to state my opinions with confidence. Through this exchange program, I believe I was able to develop the skills to overcome hardship.

Seizing a future to act on the global stage again after many struggles

I fully enjoyed the year-long exchange program and began job hunting after returning to Japan. To find a job, I set two criteria. The first is a company that would offer an environment where I could take advantage of the English skills, flexibility, and vitality that I had developed while studying overseas. The second is a company where I could play an important role in a global business setting. Based on these criteria, I narrowed down the business fields to those with connections overseas such as aviation, trading, and shipping.

The area of job hunting I had difficulty with was that I had no friends to share information with or practice job interviews with. My friends had already completed their job-hunting process, so I began the process all by myself through trial and error. In my first group interview, I did not prepare adequately and could not express myself well. I felt devastated. I lost confidence and motivation. If I didn’t pass the job interview for the industry where I was hoping to find a job, I would lose my chance, I thought. At the same time, however, I knew I had to try many interviews to get used to them, so I was faced with a dilemma. That’s when I consulted with a Career Center worker, who advised me, “It’s better to do interviews rather than not. As you do them, you will see what to improve. So, I recommend you actively go for interviews and get used to them,” and offered mock interview sessions. More interview experience actually made me more comfortable with interviews. When I was asked a question similar to what I had been asked before, I was able to answer with more details and precision.

Finally, I chose JALUX, an aviation and trading company whose business sounded exciting to me. I found the company attractive because employees can try global jobs to connect Japan and the world, as well as domestic jobs such as regional revitalization projects. I would like to go overseas, play an important role in a global business setting, and introduce products to society that represent what I feel is interesting.

※Please note that the content of this article is subject as of October 2023

Sophia University

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