If you stay true to what you love, you can soar toward your dreams

Shojiro Ito Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. (Graduated from the Department of German Studies, Faculty of Foreign Studies in 2012)

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

Job-hunting disrupted by the Great East Japan Earthquake

Shojiro Ito Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. (Graduated from the Department of German Studies, Faculty of Foreign Studies in 2012)

I chose the Department of German Studies because I love German railways, automobiles, and classical music. In my third year at Sophia University, I was able to fulfill my long-term wish of going on an exchange program. While studying abroad, I created many great memories through fun experiences such as spending a whole day riding trains and visiting other nearby European countries via LCC flights. I will never forget going to a concert where I got to see Maestro Seiji Ozawa conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

For me, my part-time job was also an unforgettable experience during my time at university. I engaged in on-board sales on bullet trains and limited express trains. Simply getting to ride on the trains was extremely fun and when I saw customers enjoying their journey on board, it made me happy. 

These experiences influenced my goal when looking for a job, which was “I want to contribute to improving people’s mobility.” However, the timing of my job-hunting coincided with the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and many companies that I had applied to contacted me to say that they were postponing hiring for the year. This meant my job-hunting activities could not move forward as planned. Eventually I decided to join a foods company. I thought that I could support people on their journeys through boxed lunches (Ekiben) sold at stations.

However, feeling dissatisfied with my job-hunting experience, I decided to go to school for career development assistance in order to change my job. so that I could change career. At the school, I thought very seriously about what I truly wanted to do, and this made it clear that I still wanted to contribute to improving people’s mobility.

Joining an airline company to follow my passion

I made several attempts at the Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. (JAL) recruitment exam and passed in 2015. After entering the company, I gained experience as a ground staff member at Haneda Airport and in the International Flight Division, and I also had an external assignment at Keidanren (the Japan Business Federation) before returning to JAL in April 2022.

Currently I am involved in formulating JAL’s next medium-term management plan as a member of the Corporate Planning Division. Previously, I had the image that the company’s policies and philosophy were decided through a top-down approach. However, I am currently attending meetings to decide the company’s direction, getting to witness the moment that the management team makes decisions. I am finding this work satisfying, while at the same time, I feel a huge sense of responsibility.

I am also involved in an internal venture team*. As part of this initiative, I was able to realize the JAL Music Charter Flight project, which enabled people to listen to professional orchestra members perform on a charter flight. The idea was to energize the world by exploring the new possibilities created by combining aircraft and music, particularly amid the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. An aircraft cabin is not the ideal environment for listening to live music, but I was truly happy when a passenger told us, “It was a great experience to listen to a live violin performance on a plane in mid-flight. I was moved.” I was almost moved to tears when I realized I was actually listening to a violin performance on board, because this was a project that I accomplished by incorporating my own passions into my work, rather than simply carrying out tasks assigned by the company.

My advice to current students based on my own experiences including lessons I gained from failures, is to not worry too much about what is happening to the people around you during job-hunting. There is nothing to be gained from throwing around information such as who has got through the first screening and where they got through. In my case, I became anxious and rushed to apply to numerous companies without a clear focus, which ended up wasting valuable time. 

The words the coach at my school said to me during my career transition that still resonate strongly with me were, “Only you know what you really want to do.” Whatever happens, you need to focus on yourself. Take stock of everything, including the environment you were born in, your relationship with your family, what you thought about, who your friends were, and how you felt at elementary school, junior high school, high school, and university. If you really look at yourself, even the parts you do not like, things will become clearer and you will realize what is important. This is because ultimately, only you know what you really want to do.

*Wakuwaku-Platform Innovation Team (W-PIT). A venture team formed within JAL that works to bring out the wakuwaku (latent purpose) of individuals through co-creation with partners in other industries.

Building No. 15
The newest university building, made from wood in order to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs and realization of a decarbonized society. It is surrounded by a lattice structure made from wood sourced within Tokyo, contributing to local production for local consumption, and its walls and roof are also covered with greenery.

※Please note that the content of this article is subject as of October 2022

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