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Studying a Master in Japan: life and future

jbros

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Hello,

I'll start telling you some things of myself. I'm a 21 year old student, with only a year left to finish a Business Administration degree. I have an strong interest on japanese culture, from it's language to its culture, history and gastronomy. I'm going to study the first 4 months of the last degree' course in Nagoya in an exchange, traveling to Japan in exactly one month from now.

This question goes a bit far beyond that next year, so I'm really interested on coursing a Master's degree of Business Administration in Japan. I've contacted, and searched for a lot of universities. However, my first option will be Hokkaido University. Its one of the national universities of Japan, it has a huge and beautiful campus and, despite not having much of history compared to other cities in Japan, I like Sapporo very much.

I'd like to hear from someone who could have lived situations like this. Studying a Master in Japan, while working on a part-time job (to earn and help sustain your expenses). I know Hokkaido University is not the best business school in Japan, but I've heard its pretty well recognized in Japan and beyond. I'd like to know, particularly in Hokudai but appreciated in any other japanese university, how the graduate life is (expenses, difficulties, required bureaucracy, etc.), and what are the jobs you can apply or you can be hired while finished the Master. (also heard that university helps on this?).

My level of japanese is currently around N5, I'll take a course in the university in Nagoya and I'll keep studying it while finishing my degree, so I'd probably be realistic if I expect to finish the Master's degree with a level of around N1.

On the other hand, I will also be very active on my months in Nagoya (also applied in Hello-sensei to teach my native language and get some people for trial lessons) and will also look for an arubaito to help my parents on the expenses. I don't know if it's common or any useful to deliever my CV on companies in Nagoya, just to apply for a job/internship or to just let myself be known to companies and specialy those with headquarters in Sapporo.

I'm afraid this post is too long, I just want to thank you if you read it all, and I will be very thankful of hearing any experiences, feedbacks or tips.

Sincerely,
Jim.
 

Lawrence1

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Hey well try your best. I, personally, am also coming to japan soon, although, I do hope to eventually become a japanese citizen. I can't tell you much about my experience from it but I can say a few things I have heard or read about.

The common methodology I have heard very often is "go to a good school, get a good job, have a good life". It is an old saying but I think it still runs true today in Japan. I recommend trying to get into the best school you can find for your major you want in the location you want.

After you complete your masters you usually get around 3 months (I think) to find a job so you can stay. I believe you can extend this time to at most a year. Realistically, if you haven't mastered Japanese by 2 years (when you complete your masters), the job outlook is not the best (from what I have heard). The reason is because when applying for jobs (especially business related) you will have to do at least one interview and it is not uncommon for the interview to be in a group of fellow applicants. Most of your fellow applicants will be Japanese and your interview will be in Japanese so if you haven't mastered it, you will be at a disadvantage. On the bright side, if you have mastered Japanese then you will be in advantage since you will be bilingual.

I think for the business majors it will be a little bit harder if you are still learning japanese since there are A LOT of specific mannerisms that you MUST learn. You also need to learn keigo (which is very formal japanese), and soon you will realize why it is so important for business majors in japan to exchange business cards right away. It is also very stressful, so if you are not good at dealing with stress, I recommend thinking about it more.

When you are applying for jobs, I tend to hear that the CV's from the applicants from the best schools are usually put at the top of the pile. Thus I recommend getting into the best school that you can.

In Japan there is a season for job searching for all new college graduates in Japan. (I believe it is around April). Out of the job searching season, it is a little bit harder for anyone to find a job. And during the job hunting season you will be competing with everyone graduating or transitioning jobs in Japan. It is very common for people to send their application to many many companies at the same time and go to many interviews so be prepared and don't be discouraged.

Visa's are also an issue while you are in Japan. As a foreigner, your actions are limited to a significant extent. You can only work or apply to a job within your allowed designated activities. And this can be become quite confusing and limiting so please look for the details and procedures on your own. You especially can not start your own business without proper authorization. You can apply for permanent residency (which gives you almost no restrictions) but that requires in principle 10 years of residency.

In general, when you graduate from masters and apply for job, you will need to do a lot in a short window of time, while finishing up your degree (if you graduate in the summer), and constantly making sure you are allowed to do it based on your visa. By the way, please double check if you are allowed to even apply for your desired job while your are under a student visa. I know you can get permission to engage in undesignated activities as a student but I think there is a limitation for certain business related jobs. Worst case, you may need to wait for the next job hunting season window.

It is tough but definitely doable. I highly recommend trying to find internships while you are doing graduate school and do something relating to kind of business you want to work in. It is a given that you must master japanese to stand a better chance, and you need adopt certain mannerisms since you will be dealing with a lot of people. Try to get into the best business school you can, and work very hard and remain motivated!
 
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Akakubisan

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I could write a number of reasons why I wouldn't recommend the MBA in Japan. But since the OP hasn't returned, it would be like talking to myself.
 

jbros

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Hey well try your best. I, personally, am also coming to japan soon, although, I do hope to eventually become a japanese citizen. I can't tell you much about my experience from it but I can say a few things I have heard or read about.

The common methodology I have heard very often is "go to a good school, get a good job, have a good life". It is an old saying but I think it still runs true today in Japan. I recommend trying to get into the best school you can find for your major you want in the location you want.

After you complete your masters you usually get around 3 months (I think) to find a job so you can stay. I believe you can extend this time to at most a year. Realistically, if you haven't mastered Japanese by 2 years (when you complete your masters), the job outlook is not the best (from what I have heard). The reason is because when applying for jobs (especially business related) you will have to do at least one interview and it is not uncommon for the interview to be in a group of fellow applicants. Most of your fellow applicants will be Japanese and your interview will be in Japanese so if you haven't mastered it, you will be at a disadvantage. On the bright side, if you have mastered Japanese then you will be in advantage since you will be bilingual.

I think for the business majors it will be a little bit harder if you are still learning japanese since there are A LOT of specific mannerisms that you MUST learn. You also need to learn keigo (which is very formal japanese), and soon you will realize why it is so important for business majors in japan to exchange business cards right away. It is also very stressful, so if you are not good at dealing with stress, I recommend thinking about it more.

When you are applying for jobs, I tend to hear that the CV's from the applicants from the best schools are usually put at the top of the pile. Thus I recommend getting into the best school that you can.

In Japan there is a season for job searching for all new college graduates in Japan. (I believe it is around April). Out of the job searching season, it is a little bit harder for anyone to find a job. And during the job hunting season you will be competing with everyone graduating or transitioning jobs in Japan. It is very common for people to send their application to many many companies at the same time and go to many interviews so be prepared and don't be discouraged.

Visa's are also an issue while you are in Japan. As a foreigner, your actions are limited to a significant extent. You can only work or apply to a job within your allowed designated activities. And this can be become quite confusing and limiting so please look for the details and procedures on your own. You especially can not start your own business without proper authorization. You can apply for permanent residency (which gives you almost no restrictions) but that requires in principle 10 years of residency.

In general, when you graduate from masters and apply for job, you will need to do a lot in a short window of time, while finishing up your degree (if you graduate in the summer), and constantly making sure you are allowed to do it based on your visa. By the way, please double check if you are allowed to even apply for your desired job while your are under a student visa. I know you can get permission to engage in undesignated activities as a student but I think there is a limitation for certain business related jobs. Worst case, you may need to wait for the next job hunting season window.

It is tough but definitely doable. I highly recommend trying to find internships while you are doing graduate school and do something relating to kind of business you want to work in. It is a given that you must master japanese to stand a better chance, and you need adopt certain mannerisms since you will be dealing with a lot of people. Try to get into the best business school you can, and work very hard and remain motivated!
Thank you very much for your complete and useful information! I'll look hard to find an internship program if I finally do the Master's course, and of course mastering japanese will be my priority (I know it's a must).

Regarding to the universities topic... is it that discriminatory in terms of which university did I attend? Would they considerate if my degree is done in a very good university? Since at the moment my desirable location is Sapporo and, with no doubt, Hokudai is the best university in the area, I was wondering if it would be good enough. I know it is not the best business school in Japan but I've read it's quite prestigious and in a good position of reputation inside Japan. However, I'd need someone with more precise information to confirm this. Still, I think it's a good university, so thank you again for your tips.

I could write a number of reasons why I wouldn't recommend the MBA in Japan. But since the OP hasn't returned, it would be like talking to myself.
Hi! What do you mean by OP? I would really appreciate you could write down your reasons and let me (and other viewers) know it. Of course, some argumentation behind them would also be appreciated. I'll be aware if you post again :) Thank you for your post.
 

Lawrence1

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Thank you very much for your complete and useful information! I'll look hard to find an internship program if I finally do the Master's course, and of course mastering japanese will be my priority (I know it's a must).

Regarding to the universities topic... is it that discriminatory in terms of which university did I attend? Would they considerate if my degree is done in a very good university? Since at the moment my desirable location is Sapporo and, with no doubt, Hokudai is the best university in the area, I was wondering if it would be good enough. I know it is not the best business school in Japan but I've read it's quite prestigious and in a good position of reputation inside Japan. However, I'd need someone with more precise information to confirm this. Still, I think it's a good university, so thank you again for your tips.



Hi! What do you mean by OP? I would really appreciate you could write down your reasons and let me (and other viewers) know it. Of course, some argumentation behind them would also be appreciated. I'll be aware if you post again :) Thank you for your post.
Well from what I have heard, the CEO's of most of the good companies that you will likely apply to work in mostly come from good business schools and, of course, will prefer new students from these schools. It is common to simply put them on the top of the pile of applicants so they are evaluated and offered a position first. I mean it would never hurt to go the best school you can get into.

For the other comment, OP, I believe, refers to "original poster". And a strong argument can be had about not doing an MBA in Japan because, for example, if you end up graduating in Sapporo and you don't want to spend the rest of your life in Sapporo or Japan, it may be hard to get a good job outside of Japan. However, if you go to another school such as New York University or an Ivy league school, they tend to be more internationally recognized and versatile. Which means you could still apply for a position in Japan, provided you have mastered the mannerisms and language. Although, if you know 100% that you want to stay in japan for the rest of your life, it may be slightly more advantageous to start out in a school in Japan.
 

jbros

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Well from what I have heard, the CEO's of most of the good companies that you will likely apply to work in mostly come from good business schools and, of course, will prefer new students from these schools. It is common to simply put them on the top of the pile of applicants so they are evaluated and offered a position first. I mean it would never hurt to go the best school you can get into.

For the other comment, OP, I believe, refers to "original poster". And a strong argument can be had about not doing an MBA in Japan because, for example, if you end up graduating in Sapporo and you don't want to spend the rest of your life in Sapporo or Japan, it may be hard to get a good job outside of Japan. However, if you go to another school such as New York University or an Ivy league school, they tend to be more internationally recognized and versatile. Which means you could still apply for a position in Japan, provided you have mastered the mannerisms and language. Although, if you know 100% that you want to stay in japan for the rest of your life, it may be slightly more advantageous to start out in a school in Japan.
Thank you once more for your response.

I can't say I want to stay in Japan forever. My idea on coursing a Master's in Japan is to experience and live in a city (Sapporo) and a country (Japan) I do like, while completing my formation (in one of seven national universities in JPN), and also learning japanese and gaining work experience. My idea (and ideal future) would be to get a good job position when I graduate of the Master's and keep working on that for some years in Sapporo. There are many variables and of course its very uncertain, but maybe after those years I'd like to be in same place for some more years or, with the experience, move to another city (Tokyo), but definetly after those years come back to my country (maybe for just a period of time who knows). This of course would depend on the company I could get into.

The point is, a Master's in that university (or in almost every university in Japan?) wouldn't be given any value outside Japan, neither the experience gained in a company in Japan? Would it really be that bad?
 

Glenski

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Realistically, if you haven't mastered Japanese by 2 years
What exactly do you mean by "mastered" it? To go from N5 to N1 in 2 years would be an incredible feat. To do it while studying for a master's degree in that very same language you haven't much fluency in is even more daunting.

And just getting N1 is not necessarily mastering the language.
 

Lawrence1

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Thank you once more for your response.

I can't say I want to stay in Japan forever. My idea on coursing a Master's in Japan is to experience and live in a city (Sapporo) and a country (Japan) I do like, while completing my formation (in one of seven national universities in JPN), and also learning japanese and gaining work experience. My idea (and ideal future) would be to get a good job position when I graduate of the Master's and keep working on that for some years in Sapporo. There are many variables and of course its very uncertain, but maybe after those years I'd like to be in same place for some more years or, with the experience, move to another city (Tokyo), but definetly after those years come back to my country (maybe for just a period of time who knows). This of course would depend on the company I could get into.

The point is, a Master's in that university (or in almost every university in Japan?) wouldn't be given any value outside Japan, neither the experience gained in a company in Japan? Would it really be that bad?
If you desire to eventually go back to your home country, then it is really up to you. You could also get a job in your home country and transfer to a japanese branch if they have it. Of course, if you have many years of experience in a company then your school won't matter as much but you will really need to get into a very good company that is well known internationally. It really depends on a lot of things like how long you want to stay and how much effort you are willing to put into it.

What exactly do you mean by "mastered" it? To go from N5 to N1 in 2 years would be an incredible feat. To do it while studying for a master's degree in that very same language you haven't much fluency in is even more daunting.

And just getting N1 is not necessarily mastering the language.
Yep it will be hard for sure. In addition with mastering the mannerism and keigo. It won't be an easy task at all but it is dependent on how much effort he will put in. That is why I suggest to try to find an internship to at least get his foot in the door while he tries to learn. (although I have no idea how difficult it will be for an international student to get an internship). And there is a market for people who are bilingual.
 

Akakubisan

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My opinion (for what it is worth as a hiring manager) is that a MBA is only valuable for recent graduates if they are either graduating in a non business field, or getting an MBA from one of the top 5 or so MBA programs.

Adding a MBA to a BA in business with no experience adds no real value for the hiring company, and tends to just make you more expensive. Get an MA in Finance, Economics, Statistics instead. This will bring real value.

Now if you can use the program for networking to improve your career, that would be a different case. But usually only applies when you have 5+ years experience.

Just my 2 cents.

J
 

Mike Cash

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Realistically, if you haven't mastered Japanese by 2 years
Let's make a pact, you and I.

When after two years of learning Japanese you have "mastered" it, you promise to come tell me about it.

If I ever feel I have made even a noticeable dent in "mastering"Japanese, i promise to come tell you about it.
 

Lawrence1

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Let's make a pact, you and I.

When after two years of learning Japanese you have "mastered" it, you promise to come tell me about it.

If I ever feel I have made even a noticeable dent in "mastering"Japanese, i promise to come tell you about it.
Ok. I apologize since it seems like I caused some confusion. I wasn't trying to say that it is easily possible to master japanese in 2 years. I meant he would need to master Japanese by the time he finishes his masters degree which is about two years in order to have a good chance for the same position native Japanese business major are applying for. I have already studied Japanese for two years, and I no where feel close to mastering it. In my other post, I may have understated the difficultly of this endeavor.

Although I understand what you are trying to say, and you don't want to give the poster too much hope for this.
 
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Glenski

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I think an internship will make it harder to get language fluency up. He'll be in the office more, where it's expected to know and use Japanese, plus it'll be a shorter period than studying for a degree.
 

Mike Cash

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Although I understand what you are trying to say, and you don't want to give the poster too much hope for this
If I felt the OPs hopes needed tamping down I would have addressed my remarks to him. My point was about the notion of "mastering" Japanese.

It seems all your observations addressed to the OP were based on hearsay. Do I understand correctly that you yourself have no personal experience regarding the things you are advising him about?
 

jbros

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My opinion (for what it is worth as a hiring manager) is that a MBA is only valuable for recent graduates if they are either graduating in a non business field, or getting an MBA from one of the top 5 or so MBA programs.

Adding a MBA to a BA in business with no experience adds no real value for the hiring company, and tends to just make you more expensive. Get an MA in Finance, Economics, Statistics instead. This will bring real value.

Now if you can use the program for networking to improve your career, that would be a different case. But usually only applies when you have 5+ years experience.

Just my 2 cents.

J
Thank you for your comment. The Master's program I'm interested to apply would give me the degree of "Master in the field of Economics" or "Master in the field of Business Administration", said by an employer of Hokudai. The contents of the Master are quite centered in Economy and economics. Do you think this will make the difference?

I'll also check the Accounting Master's. Despite I'm getting good grades in accounting so far in my degree, I think it's not my piece of cake. However I'll check it.

I think an internship will make it harder to get language fluency up. He'll be in the office more, where it's expected to know and use Japanese, plus it'll be a shorter period than studying for a degree.
Won't this internship help me getting used to office manners, office language and behaviour of the company? I can't hardly think about a way this could make even harder to improve the japanese skills.

We are not talking about getting from N5 to N1 in two years. N5 is the level I have right now, and there's still one year to finish my degree (half of which I'll be in Nagoya and in a japanese course). After, this Master will be about to start in April 2018. Studying constantly until then, and once in Sapporo keep studying it while doing the Master's (in English), will make me proficient in the language. I mean, I expect I could get a level above N1 when I graduate plus the experience and the fluency I may get in my years in Japan. That's only what I can say from this future prespective and what I've already learnt. I may be wrong.

If I felt the OPs hopes needed tamping down I would have addressed my remarks to him. My point was about the notion of "mastering" Japanese.

It seems all your observations addressed to the OP were based on hearsay. Do I understand correctly that you yourself have no personal experience regarding the things you are advising him about?
Mike Cash, I've seen you in the forums and you seem to know a lot about Japan and stuff related to it. If possible, I'd like to hear some experience, some words tips or advices you may give me, regarding all I've told.

I'd also like to hear from you, or from any person who read this, any good tips of things to do in Nagoya these months that could help me in my future plans I've told.

I'd like to thank you all for the answers and comments.
 

Mike Cash

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Mike Cash, I've seen you in the forums and you seem to know a lot about Japan and stuff related to it. If possible, I'd like to hear some experience, some words tips or advices you may give me, regarding all I've told.
I know zero about the things you're asking about. But I'll mention a few random general points:

1. Greetings are important here, as are "please" and "thank you".

2. Learn to read Japanese. Learn to write Japanese. You're a literate independent adult where you are now. Strive to be a literate independent adult here too.

3. You're not too good to use a broom or a rag. Whether at school or at work, if the Japanese people around you are cleaning up, you grab something and help. By extension, unless you can clearly and positively 100% recognize someone as a janitor by their uniform, treat anyone you see cleaning or doing some flunky labor as though they are the head of the school or company....they very well may be.

4. Don't ask people personal questions. Don't give personal information about yourself unless you want EVERYBODY to know it. Everybody will gossip about you. If you are smart, you will never say an unpleasant word about any classmate or co-worker.

5. The concept of "job description" is entirely foreign here. When things are busy or there aren't enough people, EVERYTHING is EVERYBODY's job. Make yourself useful.

6. In mixed Japanese/non-Japanese social or group settings where everyone doesn't speak your foreign language, avoid speaking the foreign language. Nobody likes feeling left out. And there will be times when you're essentially just used as a tool by some people for showing off in front of others... who consciously or unconsciously will also resent you for it. And for God's sake don't do the common thing where all the foreigners segregate themselves into a group and only interact with each other.

7. Not every unpleasant experience you have in Japan is due to racism or discrimination. In fact, probably almost none of them are. Try to avoid being the kind of foreigner who blames everything on Japanese racism or discrimination.

8. Just because you don't understand the way something is done here doesn't make it backwards or stup!d. It works for roughly 120 or 130 million people. If you find yourself bumping into the furniture in a house where you are the guest, it is your job to learn where the furniture is, not to move it where you think it should be.

9. Be pleasant. Smile. Behave in a way that no matter where you go, the next time you are there at least one person will be genuinely happy to see you again.

10. Have the dignity never to "play the gaijin card".
 
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jbros

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Thank you for your tips, Mike Cash, they are really useful.

So I landed in Nagoya a week ago and I already started the classes at NUCB. My idea on why I opened this post is still in my mind. Could someone give his/her opinion about if a Business Administration degree is worth at Hokudai, or if it would be better for me and for job opportunities to Master in Accounting?

Sapporo keeps being my desired place to go. However, and as far as I know, it is not such a wealth place like maybe Nagoya. Would it be possible for me, some years from now, to earn a good salary (of course being hard-worker, and doing extra-hours most of the times) after I finish the Master's?

I have no more to add on here. However, any tip or suggestion of anything to do here in Nagoya where I'll spend next 4 months that could help me reach my goal would be really and highly appreciated. I'm already looking for a part-time job, so I can reduce the amount of my exchange here and save it for Master's. Thank you all.
 
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