First, I worked in the US but was focused on the Japanese medical device market. I visited Japan on business trips and worked with the Japan-based team to understand the medical device requirements in Japan. I then attended graduate school, obtaining a Master’s Degree in International Management. During my graduate studies, I studied abroad at the University of Tokyo in the Economics department. I worked on freelance translation projects. After that, I worked for 3 years in Tokyo as part of Ernst & Young’s transfer pricing practice. I had the opportunity to use my bilingual English/Japanese skills to work with clients and participated in meetings with the tax authorities in Japan.
I began my language studies with French, and became interested in Japanese business and culture.
I learned a great deal from my experience in Japan. I had the opportunity to work with people from all over the world. Knowing the local language and having strong skills in writing and communication gave me more opportunities at work and enabled me to advance quickly in my career. Because I was highly proficient in Japanese, I gained a much deeper understanding of the culture while living in Japan and was able to get to know more people than if I only knew English. I also shared my experience of living in the Midwest and US culture and was able to connect with more people because of my strong language and communication skills.
UW language classes are at a much higher level than at many other universities and allow you to progress quickly in the language. The language skills focused on at UW include not only day-to-day communication but also an appreciation of the culture which made it very easy to transition into a Japanese business environment with different business practices.
I studied abroad as part of the Central Japan Railway Internship. This experience was extremely value to me as I was able to see inside a Japanese business firsthand, not only the train business but also related technology, helicopter, food and hospitality companies. This internship made me very well prepared for working and living in Japan full-time.
I further developed my skills through working with Japan, studying Japanese in graduate school, and living and working in Japan. My language skills have enabled me to move ahead quickly in my career.
Take the time to practice the language each week. Appreciate the progress you have made, but don’t be afraid to tackle new words or try a different method of learning the language (e.g., conversation partner, online games, cooking classes.)