Internships in Japan

As a university student in Japan, internships are a great way to understand the job market in Japan as well as to gain work experience. The internship process and information explained below refer to internships that range in duration from one month to six months and above. Some company visits may be referred to as “internships,” however, they are not considered internships because they last less than a week. There is a myriad of internships that provide students with a variety of opportunities to learn different skills and leverage their skills outside of university academia. Internships are offered to international students regardless of nationality. Although a large portion of the internships requires business level Japanese, there are many which are held in English. Multiple portals offer a variety of internships with different qualifications at firms that range from startup to conglomerate.

man in a suit at work

How to apply for Internships

Many universities offer internship programs that are provided by partnerships between the university and the firm. These internships can be accessed through the online system, or through the school’s career center. Some of the internships may require Japanese fluency, and may have screening processes such as document screening and interviews. They may also last from at least two weeks to several months, depending on the firm. Many of them have certain recruiting periods and offer the internship program during spring or summer breaks. Many universities offer a wide variety of internships so please consult your advisor or the school career center for additional opportunities. In addition, many university facebook groups or student business groups may have internship listings or connections to firms that are looking for interns.

However, many firms have internship programs for students that can be accessed through multiple online portals or the company’s website. Often times, companies that are not actively recruiting online may offer opportunities through referrals from previous interns or through word-of-mouth connections. Some firms offer summer programs that may result in an offer at the end of the program. Others may recruit throughout the year and pay their interns accordingly. Some websites such as Linkedin, Glassdoor, or Wantedly may have listings that include internships. Additionally, several websites such as Internship in Japan or EU-Japan provide listings of websites that include internship programs. Some firms may even scout their interns through Linkedin, Wanted, or other job-searching websites.

office with desks and computers

Internships in multiple fields

There is a wide variety of work available for students from different fields. Depending on the firm, there are internships based on marketing, consulting, recruiting, programming, content creation, research, design, translation, sales, and others. Typically, large firms with an established intern program may have a certain fixed role and time for interns, while smaller firms may offer a wide range of opportunities for interns to try. An internship should not constitute work that doesn’t provide learning opportunities for students; students should be able to receive benefits from internships such as meaningful work experience or opportunity to pursue personal interests.

Paid Internships?

Most firms pay their interns around 1000 yen per hour. Depending on the work and firm, interns may be paid higher or lower than the average. Some firms, such as NPOs or NGOs, do not pay their interns at all. For example, the United Nations does not pay their interns in exchange for both the UN name and connections that can be leveraged throughout the internship. However, it should not be common that a firm does not pay their interns. While interns are not as fully experienced as full-time employees, the work that interns do is still vital to the company and therefore should rightfully earn a wage.

computer and notebook

Preparation for Applying

In preparation for applying to internships, it is helpful to prepare a resume and CV. CV stands for Curriculum Vitae, which is a longer form of the resume.  A helpful resume template is the Harvard University template for undergraduates, which structures your achievements or experience in reverse chronological order. Depending on the type of internship, it may be helpful to prepare other documents that can showcase your skills, such as a portfolio for a graphic designer or Github for a programmer. In addition, some internships may require a cover letter, which is a letter explaining why you are suitable for the internship and additional information that is not included in the resume or CV. Furthermore, some internships may also require certification of language ability, such as the JLPT or TOEFL/TOEIC. After the initial document screening, some firms may require an interview, either through a call or onsite.

It is also helpful to prepare an Individual Number Card (マイナンバー) because as a student, you are subject to the 28 hour limit for working hours. Please make sure that your student visa includes a working permit as well, because it is considered illegal without the proper documentation and permit. Companies should check and make sure students have the proper documents and are not subject to over 28 hours of work per week.

Research for Internships

It is important to research what firm and what kind of internship you are applying for. Proper research is crucial to ensure that you will enjoy your internship and receive a meaningful experience that may further you along with your career. The company should provide sufficient documents and information about the number of hours, wage, date of payment, and any additional details before interns start. A contract should be signed that protects both the company and the intern.

In conclusion, internships are a great way for students to learn more about the Japanese job market. There are a variety of internships available for international students regardless of language ability. It is important to prepare the necessary documents in order to successfully apply to an internship. Applying to internships may be hard, but there are many ways of reaching out for help, such as your school’s career center, your peers, or online websites that provide information about internship applications. Good luck!