Ben McCracken, the JCMU Resident Director in Hikone, often meets with members of the Michigan and Shiga business communities to find out what types of work are available for JCMU alumni. Find out below why he says that the best way to return to Japan might be to work for a Japanese company in Michigan!
Don’t sacrifice a long life with Japan for a quick trip back.
Recently, I was lucky enough to join representatives from the State of Michigan on visits to various Japanese companies with offices in both Michigan and Japan. I was amazed at the types of opportunities that exist for JCMU graduates in Michigan. Almost every company we visited said they need fresh talent and said that people with Japanese language and culture skills would be an asset to their companies in Michigan.
When I heard all of this I couldn’t help but think that many JCMU alumni (including me) often look for the first ticket back to Japan that comes their way. I came back to Japan soon after graduating to teach English. For some people this is a great way to get away and think about what they really want to do with their lives long-term. For others, it is the beginning of a long career teaching English. For many (including me), teaching English was certainly a short stop and simply a means of making my way back to Japan for a year or so. It was a good job, but certainly not something that was going to lead to anything permanent for me.
Students often ask me if there are jobs they can do in Japan other than teaching English. For these students perhaps their road back to Japan should instead start with something closer to home. Japanese companies in the United States operate much like their counter parts here; do well and you will be valued with long-term employment with a global company. Japanese companies frequently will send their American workers to Japan for several years at a time or for short trips when the need arises. This is especially true for those in sales and engineering. So while it might be a bit of a lengthy journey to get back to Japan, it is certainly one that has the potential to be more profitable and fulfilling in the long run.
I think it is easy to focus on the short-term and not see the full potential that employment with one of the over 400 Japanese companies in Michigan could provide. So, as you start to think about your future, give a little thought to how a long-term plan with a Japanese company could help you achieve all of your goals quicker. Of course many of these companies would still value a few years abroad teaching English as well, so don’t be afraid to include that in the plan.
11/29 update: There is an upcoming job fair in Michigan open to all JCMU alumni in which both Japanese and American companies will be in attendance! More information about the event can be found in the image below. If you are interested in attending, please contact Adam Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org.