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Internship Message from Intern Alumni


Lauren
2013 June - August :
Global Intern at Corporate Executive Office
2015 April - :
Joined Sony Corporation

Introduction

Whenever someone asks me why I chose to work for Sony, I always talk about the internship as the deciding factor. For one, the opportunity to work for the Corporate Executive Office for a global corporation in Japan is especially rare, and it proved to be rich with eye-opening experiences and encounters with influential people, and also rewarding because I could see how my work as an intern was contributing to corporate goals.
However, the crucial decision-making factor was that I could visualize myself enjoying a successful career in a country halfway around the world, away from home. The internship gave me that precious vision, which fueled my determination to return upon finishing my master degree. There were other places I had applied to, but in my mind, I already knew where I was going to be.

Three years later, I am proud to be working in the Business Development Division, where I facilitate collaborative engagements between Sony Pictures and Sony Music and the electronics business groups. My responsibilities involve the corporate initiatives of creating synergy in business with differing entities, which entails understanding and interpreting the initiatives and goals of each stakeholder, and creating win-win solutions for each. In many ways, acquiring skills like these is a step up from my internship. Of course, with every new experience, there are challenges to overcome, but I love what I do, and I see myself succeeding in this position at Sony.

Intern Interview

(Originally conducted during Lauren's internship in 2013)
Interviewer : Lauren, you speak fluent Japanese from your major in college and study abroad experience in Japan. How did your impression towards Sony change after participating in this internship program?
Ms. Lauren : Well, before coming to Japan I'd heard about how conservative Japanese companies can be, for example, jobs being delegated based on one's gender, mandatory participation at work-related dinners every night, and strict obedience of rigid company rules. However, on the first day of my internship, when I saw the swarm of employees heading inside the Sony headquarters at Shinagawa, I thought, "this company may be somewhat different from what I was imagining." The first thing I noticed was their clothes; everyone was dressed at varying levels of casualness, from jeans and backpacks to suits and briefcases. Later on, I saw many non-Japanese employees at the cafeteria and met many people who were fluent in English. I was surprised to see how ethnic diversity among the employees, and was happy to see they were respected for their differences.

Interviewer : What was the department's expectation for interns?

Ms. Ouchi : Our department, the Corporate Executive Office, decided to do a trial to hire an international student as an intern for a certain project, which required research and analysis from a global and objective perspective. I interviewed about 10 candidates, and I was very impressed by their professionalism and drive for their work, and recognized their high potential for working at our company. Among them, Lauren had study abroad experience in Japan and in addition to showing acceptance of other cultures and being flexible herself, she also had the necessary skills for research and analysis, which is what we were looking for.

Ms. Ohashi : I was surprised at how fast Lauren blended in with the members of our department. I believe it was Lauren's positive and open attitude to learn new things that made it easy for her to adapt. As Ms. Ouchi mentioned, I was also impressed by how determined the interns were about their interests and their goals during the internship. Inspired by them myself, I began rethinking the goals I had while working in this department. Having an intern also was a huge part of re-energizing the department atmosphere.

Interviewer : Ms. Lauren, what was the reason you started learning Japanese language and culture?
Ms. Lauren : I started learning Japanese was because of my interest in Japanese animation. Later, I deepened my understanding of Japanese culture during my stay in Japan through an exchange program at Waseda University. During this time, I realized that understanding the culture was essential to understanding the language. Memorizing Japanese kanji was just the surface--Japanese people tend to perceive ("sassuru") meaning and intentions, or rather pick up on something without explaining with words. To communicate without using concrete words can be very different and difficult to understand for non-Asian people. You must put yourself in the other person's shoes. That is the biggest reason why I believe understanding the culture and history is essential before learning the language. Through my assignment as an intern at Corporate Executive Office, I understood the importance of this communicative skill. I'd recommend all western people coming to Japan to learn more about the importance of this skill, which causes you show extra consideration for others' needs and make communication go more smoothly in Japan.

Interviewer : So how did you use the "sassuru" (perceiving) communication skill during your internship?
Ms. Lauren : As part of my internship, I did survey in which I interviewed all the executive assistants at Sony Corp, sometimes as a lunch meeting. Whether the interview was held in English or Japanese, at first I found it a little difficult to get the answers I was looking for. It was sometimes because of the language barrier, but one day I realized that the interviewees seemed to be uncomfortable talking about themselves. So that's when I stated my question as hypothetical situations, using the experiences of other people I'd interviewed. When asking, "If it were you, what would you do?" the interviewees opened up, more comfortable to answer this than explain their own work in detail. Acquiring this technique really helped my survey.

Ms. Ohashi : During the interviews, Lauren always looked straight into interviewees' eyes, trying to bring out stories from them despite the language barrier. Lauren's attitude to listen carefully to others, and her effort to first understand about others before communication, taught me many things while working with her. I was taught how communication could become much more productive with understanding each other's culture and background, not just an exchange of words. Our business mainly stands by conversation with others, which this internship experiment surely brought us many discoveries.

Interviewer : It was certainly an incredible encounter for both Lauren and for the department. Thank you very much!
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