Yes, that is my question for the past few days. This internship has been nothing like I have imagined in my head. It completely blew me out of the water.
So… what have I been doing?
Let me just start by saying that I’m lucky to have this internship at my company. They are so dedicated (and maybe too dedicated) in teaching me Japanese. I have a supervisor that cares for me too much and a boss that has a lot of expectations for me and believes in me. Stressful? Overwhelmed? Grateful? Honored? It’s all of the above. My supervisor really wants me to learn Japanese. Even though she is extremely busy, she still dedicates one hour every week to teach me Japanese grammar. In addition, she’d schedule three Language Exchange sessions with other employees for me every week and be there to translate and facilitate the conversation. She bought textbooks and printed online materials for me to use and wears a smile similar to a proud mom every time I say something longer than three words in Japanese. Not only my supervisor but everyone else including my boss and other interns were patience with my Japanese (or lack thereof) and even made an effort to speak in English or expressed their desire to communicate with me but could not due to their limited English. It’s all to say that I did not plan on learning Japanese this much (during and after I’m done for the day). Originally, I just planned on learning Japanese enough to make it through my two months here, but now I’m seriously considering taking Japanese class and learning it as my fourth language!
I learned to have a more appropriate manner with my supervisor and my boss and other colleagues formally and informally. Japanese culture definitely has a lot of rules of what to do and what not to do. I’m definitely lucky to be on the marketing department where everyone speaks English and does not mind much about me breaking certain rules. They even showed me! My boss really spoils our team as he takes us out for dinner and lunch a lot (and through this I get to know everyone better and learn about the culture in an informal setting).
I totally did not expect a lot out of this company coming in to this internship (and how wrong I was to not expect a lot from it!) Through my internship in the company, I got to make a lot of professional connections with people who have been working for big corporations such as Google, P&G, The Boston Consulting Group, Intel, and etc.. They all are employees and really want to help me! My boss, who I really look up to, used to work for Google. He knows about my background and interests especially in data analysis; therefore, he wants me to take a Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam and receive a certification from Google by the end of my internship. This is really a big stepping stone for me and my career and a huge learning experience. Before this internship, I’m still unsure about what I want to do with my Economics degree, but now it is getting more clear to me what my strengths and interests are. So yes, this internship has been a lot of studying (for the exam) and learning (Japanese) and completing tasks (for team projects), so I’m not exactly sure if this is an international internship or a study abroad program but either one I’m still loving Tokyo and enjoying my stay here!