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?