Oct 30, 2015

This post has been requested by a few of you. As you might know, I have been interning in Japan for the past few months. My internship being over now, I thought I could give you some tips about how to make the most out of your work experience in a foreign country. Let me first tell you about my experience. I was doing a master degree's in international management and marketing. This internship in Japan wasn't my first one, since I did one in Ireland for my bachelor degree. 

Why Japan ? -  I have visited Japan a lot, I have been there five times before my internship this year and I really wanted to experiment life and work there on a longer period of time. Let me precise that I don't speak japanese, at least not enough to communicate at work, but I can speak fluent english and spanish, and I am a native french speaker. 

How did I got my internship - Working so damn hard. My university gives us absolutely NO connections with any companies. We have to do the all researches procedures by ourselves, sending resumes and cover letter to companies that we find on the internet for exemple (Linkedin quickly became my best friend believe me). We are free to chose where, and what kind of internship we want to do. I started looking for an internship in November, and found it in February. It is a very long process. I used internet only to find companies working in marketing fields that could have projects I would be interested in. I sent over 50 resumes and personalized cover letters and get almost no replies, mostly because I do not speak japanese at a business level. And here comes my first tip, don't give up. No matter how many "no" or the lack of replies, I kept on looking for new companies. Let me tell you that hard work pays off, since I ended up finding after months of researches a french entrepreneur on Linkedin, that helped me to get connections in Japan. I had a first interview with him and then he introduced me to my boss. After a new interview, she selected me as one of her intern. 

What was I doing ? - My main task was to work on the introduction of an european luxury brand in Japan. My company is very small, so I was working by myself on that all process during 6 months. Note also that my company is NOT a japanese company, that's why I could work using english only. It would be much harder to find an internship in a japanese company if you don't speak enough japanese. 

What did that internship brought me ? - Well a job offer, and a big professional network. The job offer is not a 100% valid yet but my boss officially asked me to work for her. Being in a small company though there are some facts that are making the whole hiring process very slow, but I will give you an update about it soon I hope.

Now here are a few tips I would like to share with you. This is all out of my personal experience, feel free to comment and share your thoughts in the comments and let us know if you had a good or bad experience doing an internship in a foreign country. 

1 - Chose the right internship - This is a very general advice not only something for an internship abroad, but before everything, be carefull and pick the good internship. Of course, you can never know beforehand if you will have nice colleagues or a comprehensive boss. But chose a country and an work area that correspond you. I am not saying, go somewhere you've already been, at the contrary internships are an amazing opportunity to live in new countries, but in that case before coming, make small research about the country and the city you will live in for a few months. Concerning the internship itself, pick something that is related to your education or at least, something that you have a strong interest for. Don't forget that you will be far from your friends and family for a while, and working in a field you hate might not be the best for your mood. 

2 - Respect the work culture of the country you are in - That is something I had to take into consideration for Japan especially. Here the habits in the work environement are totally different from what we have in France. There is a specific system to exchange business cards, a special way to start a conversation, to talk to your boss. Add to these the typical corporate rules and it is a lot to learn in a short period of time, but it is an important step to be accepted in your new country.

3 - Networking is key - Especially if you want to stay abroad. I would say that a first good step is to find a mentor in your company, someone you look up to and inspire you. In my case, my boss is a real inspiration. She has an amazing career and since we have a nice relationship she always ask me to attend events with her and help me to make my network in Japan grows day by day. 

4 - Dress for success - That is very important if you're interning in a fashion or cosmetic company, or working on a project for fashion or cosmetic. In my case, my company is not specialized in luxury or fashion, but the project I was working on is purely fashion and luxury. When I was going to meeting, or events, I always made a special effort to dress up to be associated to that world.

5 - Work as if it was your real job - and as if you were paid! In my case I wasn't paid for six months, but I was working as hard as I could to make my project a success. You have to challenge yourself on a daily basis, your pay in that case is any good feedback you might receive. And look, hard work pay off since I could get a job offer. Think that all the hard work you're doing is only experience that might help you in your future.

6 - Be open minded, set goals and ask for feedbacks and accept criticism - When you work in a foreign country, you have to be open minded. People won't work as you do, they might have different habits, a different rythm but you have to understand it. You might have some hard moments, you might be pissed off, but set goals, and work hard to reach them. You should also ask for feedbacks often, and accept criticism, you will most of the time work with people that have a long time experience, what they say might not be what you want to hear, but you have to take it into consideration.

Here are my few tips, sorry for the very long post, for the beauty and make up lover, the normal content will be back right after this post! 


  1. Great tips!!!
    Love from www.trangscorner.com {a lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and food blog}

  2. I want to go there!:)

  3. thank you for the tips, I've always wanted to go to Japan :) the culture, actually everything just attracts me to living over there!

    Serene | I Am Serene L

  4. I would love to go to Japan! I lived in China for a while (:
    Nati xx