Everything happens for a reason, and because of a reason as well.
Why did I mention that? Well, as my internship at GRIT is coming to an end and until now I can say that I have had such incredible experience over 5 months in Japan and definitely won’t regret coming here. However, I never take anything for granted because I know good things do not come naturally and accidentally. We always have to do something in order to make them happen whether we can realize that or not. That’s why today I’m going to give you some advice on how to have a good internship based on both what I have done well and not well enough!^^
There are 2 important periods that I want to talk about: before and during the internship.
Let’s talk about what we should prepare before the internship starts. First, it’s about your Japanese. Even if you don’t usually need it for work (like me), it is still very necessary to improve your Japanese as early as you can. Besides Yoshida-san, who is the president of GRIT and also will be your host, there are just few people in the office who speak very little English or even not at all. Other people such as the your internship manager (TNM), other AIESEC members and nearly all Japanese people that you’ll meet appear to be the same. The thing here is that you’ll find most of them interesting human beings and there are so many things you can share and learn from these people but the language seems to prevent you from doing so. Well, you may think that it’s 21st century now and we have Google translate (or some similar applications) so why cares too much about the language? The truth is that Google translate sucks sometimes (or many times) and it feels much greater when we ourselves can express our ideas instead of letting Google translate do it for us. And we don’t always have enough time to use it, either. Speed is important. Also, researches have showed that studying a new language can make us become smarter and who doesn’t want to be a smarter person right? (If you do, it’s okay. No comment:)) Therefore, study Japanese hard from now and you can have better communication with the people here to strengthen your relationships with them as well as to learn a lot of new things for yourself.
Second, another thing you can prepare to ensure a good internship is to practice and improve the technical skills you need to use for your work as an intern. This may differentiate for different people. For example, I am interested in photography and my tasks are mainly related to taking photos or filming so I carried out some photo shoots with different concepts before coming to Japan to improve my shooting skills. I don’t use MacBook but if you do, it’s better to learn how to use Final Cut Pro (a software designed for MacBook to edit videos) and be familiar with it because it is commonly used here for video editing. If you are good at design and Yoshida-san says you can use your design ability for your work at GRIT, let’s strengthen it by learning new Illustrator/Photoshop techniques as well as creating some new designs when you have time. It will be useful not only for the internship but for your own development as well. Moreover, good technical skills will enable you to complete your task more easily and successfully, and of course good results can make you feel happy and increase the satisfaction level of the internship.
Trust me these two advice can create quite a big change to your internship’s experience.
Now we move to the next period which is during the internship.
Be proactive. And by “proactive” I mean doing the right things without being asked or even when no one is looking. If you have finished your tasks and are not so busy doing other things, it’s better to look around to see if anyone needs help and join them. They will appreciate that and also by doing something together you guys can interact more with each other and become closer. Besides, you should also think of what do to to improve your skills and achieve your internship’s goals. Make use of the time you have here so that you won’t have to regret later. For example, one of my goals is to strengthen my photography skills so when I’m not so busy, I learn some new photo editing techniques in Photoshop, watch video making tutorials and try to make one and carry out several photo shoots with different concepts. If you commit to do it regularly, some moments you will stop and realize “Oh! I have improved.” and I love those moments (^.^). Being “Proactive” also means to be the person who starts a conversation (because Japanese people are very kind but many of them are shy and reserved) or who initiatively invites other people to do something together. At first I was afraid that everyone was too busy at work but when I wanted to go to somewhere or did something, I just told people that I would be happy if they could join me and then we discussed to find out a suitable time for all members and that’s how I have made my close friends here (^.^). Gonna miss them so much! T.T
Last but not least, be positive. Accept the fact that you may make some mistakes and things don’t always happen the way you want them to be. And of course you would be sad. It’s natural and understandable. However, “it’s no use crying over spilt milk”. Do not dwell on the past but learn from it. If you do something unsuccessfully, try to find out the reason why and fix it. One time, I took photos of some staff but Yoshida san said the good photos were not enough so I had to do it again. I decided to went for a walk to think about how I could make it better (going for a walk alone is a good therapy for me whenever I need to seriously think about something or brainstorm some new ideas, you can do whatever’s good for your thinking). I planned some poses, practiced some Japanese phrases to talk to the staff in order to get the pose I wanted, spent longer time shooting so that I would have more choices and reminded myself to appear lively and smiley. The next morning when I felt my spirit was high enough (^.^) and I was eager to see the change I could make, I started to take the staff photos again right after the morning meeting. Fortunately, everything went well and my new photos were usable. Believe me you will see another side of yourself when you decide to think about how to improve things instead of crying over it. Also, being positive allows you to see opportunities in unexpected situations and enjoy life more. If plan A can’t happen, plan B may be good as well. This case is true for me most of the time so my mind is usually comfortable with unexpected changes.
Above are my sincerest advice for those who want to have a fruitful internship at GRIT. There are a lot more things to say but first let’s consider these 4 points and you’ll see. 5 months are not too long or too short but this internship has already become an invaluable part of my youth and I hope it will be the same to you.
Thanks for reading!