Welcome back to our irregular series on life as an MBA student at Hitotsubashi ICS! ICS’s two year program requires students to do at least one internship or enroll in at least one term of an exchange program. Some students do both, some students do multiple internships, and some students do all that plus take additional classes at ICS (whether they need the credits to graduate or just because).
The second year internships are one of the main reasons I chose ICS. I wanted to explore other industries (doing the same kind of web marketing/communications job I’d done before), and I want to get a job in Tokyo after graduation, so an internship seemed to serve both those purposes.
So hey, I’m a year and a half in now, I’ve done my internship, how’d it go? What was the process, how’d I get it, what did I do, was it any good? All those questions, answered!
In the spring of my first year, a consultant from the brand consulting company Interbrand spoke in one of my marketing classes. I approached him after class, got his card, and followed up with him via email asking to talk to him more about his organization. We and another of his colleagues met for lunch, talked about branding/marketing/social media/web trends/whatever all the cool kids are talking about, and about their organization. I was getting ready to broach the “Hey, so do you guys take interns?” subject near the end of lunch when one of them said, hey, so do you want to do an internship?
After chatting about the details a bit there, we passed it off to our respective administrators: I emailed our Career Services office, which also handles internship placements, and the people I met with contacted their HR department, letting them know the deal and that my Career Services office would be in touch. We set a date, we set a length, and I showed up on the first day, signed some paperwork and a Non-Disclosure Agreement, and we were off!
Because of said NDA I can’t talk about my internship in any detail, but it was a) really interesting, b) really educational, and c) really valuable for figuring out what I want to do and for whom.
Now, let me back up a second. The way my internship happened is not the way all internships happen at ICS. Since the internship is a required thing, the Career office guarantees that it will arrange at least one internship for every student who wants one. While setting up my internship with Interbrand, I was also working with the Career office to set up another, because, well, they said they’d do one for me, right? Might as well use that resource if it’s there.
Sometime in the late spring/early summer, all the two year students received a packet listing the places that other ICS students had done internships before, and where we might ask the Career office to try to arrange something for us. I picked some tough companies to get into that I didn’t have any personal connections with, because again, if this resource is being offered to me, might as well get as much as I can out of it, right? The Career office eventually made contact with Bandai Namco on my behalf. Bandai sent us a new employee questionnaire, in Japanese for me to fill out in Japanese, and I did so, and sent it back, and heard some time later that I wasn’t a fit and they weren’t interested.
This makes it sound like it was a really short process. It wasn’t. It took me forever to fill out that questionnaire, and it took forever times two to get the very helpful woman at the Career office to stop editing my Japanese and just send it in already.
I’d heard anecdotally from other people in my class that they were having difficulty finding internships through the Career office, that they didn’t like the internships they had found, etcetera. Not everything is necessarily on the Career office, but I think there’s a higher chance you’ll like where you are and what you’re doing if you do the heavy lifting yourself and just hand it off to the Career office for the final detail work and stamps of approval.
So that’s how it goes. It helps to know where you want to intern, what you want to do, and have an in to that company that you can leverage yourself. There is a Career office, the lone woman running it does do an important job, but at the end of the day it’s not as simple as just handing it over to her to magically arrange to perfection. (If only.)
My internship lasted about two and a half months. I was thinking about doing a second internship, and I may still, but for now I’m spending my time volunteering, working on freelance projects, and hustling at networking events for more permanent employment. Hope that was helpful to you, dear readers. Have any questions? Leave them in the comments!