The Job Fair in Boston: An e-mail from a local observer


On October 20th I reported about the job fair in Boston for Japanese companies to recruit bilingual (English and Japanese) young professionals.

In this regard, I received an e-mail from someone who had been at the Forum both this year and last year. The person said this year’s experience was completely different from last year’s.

The person wrote the following: “I was astonished. By just strolling along the streets of Boston, I felt that something was different from last year.

“I thought that this Job Forum was a U.S.-Japan Career Forum, focused on English-Japanese bilingual professionals. But, throughout the city I saw mostly Chinese and Korean people carrying plastic bags distributed at the Job Forum.  I even saw some Western people, which made me think that this Job Forum has now become a place for Japanese enterprises to recruit professionals from all over the world.  I was told that these non-Japanese people do not necessarily speak Japanese.
“I had an opportunity to listen to a Japanese person who had interviewed with some companies. This person said, ‘there was a time when it seemed that I was the only Japanese in the interviewees’ lines.’  Given this information, I think that current companies are shifting their recruitment strategy; from limiting to Japanese students studying abroad, to accepting any good talents regardless of their nationalities.

“I also talked with one of the people in charge of recruiting the students. When I asked what was his/her impression of this year’s Job Forum was, the person replied that the overall preference was changing from hiring Japanese to hiring non-Japanese.

“Apparently going abroad and broadening one’s views is not enough any more.  Companies are seeking people who are capable of enhancing ‘their own unique talents’, and this trend is getting stronger every year. Which means, it seems to me, that the key word is probably not ‘quantity’ but ‘quality’.  Recent Japanese media seem to be concerned only about the number of students studying abroad, but we have to understand that ‘the issue is not about numbers but about what students do with their life after going abroad.”

The observations from this individual are very important and valuable information to us.  However, though this impression is based on the Job Forum itself, we also have to consider extending those observations outward toissues existing in Japan regarding conventional Japanese employment and working style.

In Japan, University of Tokyo is regarded as the top university. But let’s admit that the students are selected by just one entrance examination: the T-scores.  What we should really care about is how to help students discover their potentials, and nurture their unique talents while they are within the university to become true assets of our society. In other words, we must be able to distinguish between between the person who ends in Todai, with the person who starts from Todai. (in Japanese)

Furthermore, we must admit that it is not good to linger on the conventional habits of companies providing informal employment offerings exclusively to students in the 3rd year of college, or of limiting recruitment to newly graduated students only.  Also, we need to closely monitor how the companies, especially the top ones, treat those bilingual talents after they are hired.

Students and youth, I want you to know that confining yourself within Japan will not broaden your perspectives for your future.  Why not collect your courage and take a leave of absence from school (Ref.1, 2). Go abroad for a while. Explore for even a few months. By doing so, there is a good chance for tapping new potential and talent within you. Taking time to travel more extensively -  maybe for about the length of a year – to broaden your perspective and refine who your are is so important.

Youths’ futures lay ahead of them.  I don’t see any promising future in any Society or Nation that is not willing to carefully and patiently nurture its younger generation.  Elders must encourage and support youth. They must refrain from oppressing their future by getting in their way.  There are no excuses for interrupting a young person’s potential. That you are older or wiser should only be an excuse to withhold your meddling and to support from a distance by encouraging exploration of opportunities.