Chicago Shimpo
Japan Career Day Where College Meets Japanese Companies

• Japan Career Day, an exchange event between Japanese companies and college students and faculty, was held at the North Central College in Naperville on April 18. It was held by the Chicago office of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in conjunction with the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Chicago (JCCC) to respond to needs arising from the Japanese businesses.

• JETRO has been working as a bridge between Japanese and American business communities, and its survey found that more than 70% of Japanese companies in North America put their priority on human resources, according to Tsubasa Hashimoto, Director of Public Affairs in JETRO Chicago.
• State of Illinois has also started a program to promote connections between colleges and companies to foster human resources. The state staff held a presentation about it last March.

• Ralph Inforzato, Chief Executive Director of JETRO Chicago, said that he had asked the President of the North Central College if he could appoint a team to work with JETRO to develop Japan Career Day. The President instantly agreed, so the event was realized for the first time in the Chicagoland area.
• Inforzato said, “Japanese companies in the Chicagoland area are growing, and we have to make sure that they have access to talent, young students and faculty. This is the first time that we are playing a role of job connector.”

• At the venue of Japan Career Day, 13 Japanese companies opened their booths, and more than 100 students came to talk with them.
• According to Hashimoto, he learned through conversations in other event that college students were looking for a good job environment; however, he said that they had no opportunity to know about Japanese companies, and some students have misunderstood about the working environment in Japan through a word “karo-shi (overwork death)”. Hashimoto thinks that generally Japanese companies don’t expect American students to speak the Japanese language perfectly, but seek students who are capable of adapting to Japanese business practices and culture. In that background, Hashimoto asked participating Japanese companies to explain how they communicated with their headquarters and customers to the students.

• According to James Godo, Assistant Vice President for External Affairs and Special Assistant to the President, Marketing & Communications at North Central College, the College has about 2,700 undergraduate students and about 300 graduate students. Among them, there are about 70 students majoring in Japanese Program and 27 exchange students from Japan.
• The College was founded 1861 as a four-year college and was one of the first colleges which started exchange programs with Japan a little after WWII. The College is known as a host school for the annual Illinois Japan Bowl where American students compete against each other with their knowledge about Japan.

• Professor Fukumi Matsubara, who teaches courses of the Japanese program at North Central College said that studying abroad was one of the requirement courses to the students who majored in Japanese Program, so that the College had five partner colleges in Japan.
• According to Matsubara, motivations about why they take Japanese studies vary in different ways. In the past, students were mainly interested in international business and taking Japanese courses. In recent years, however, they take the Japanese program because of their interests in Japanese culture and history, their future plans to become an English teacher in Japan, and other reasons.
• She said that Japan Career Day was a wonderful chance for the students because they wouldn’t know that there were such a great number of Japanese companies located in the Chicagoland area. She also said that it would be a good chance to introduce North Central College to the Japanese business community.

Students Interviews

• Lawren Moody has taken Japanese programs as the second major. She said that she liked Japanese culture, wanted to know more about it and wanted to know another language. She is interested in working in a Japanese company but was not sure about her future career. “I’ll be going there (Japan) later this year. I think that will give me better ideas. I just want to expose myself as many ways as I can. What a culture is like, business is like,” she said.

• Tyler Willis also likes Japanese culture and respects it. He said that he wanted to learn other languages to know the world better. He is interested in the subject of energy crisis and wants to work between the two cultures in the future.

• Daniel Alacarez is fluent in English and Spanish, so he is studying the more challenging language of Japanese. Especially, he likes kanji characters, which carry many meanings on each one. “That was special to me, so I decided to keep going.”
• Regarding Japanese companies, “My major is in Computer Science. I think some of the Japanese technologies are the best in the world, so there is a lot potential to me,” he said.

• A female student, who does not take Japanese program, said, “I study computer science. So Japanese tech companies, I think that it’s good way to get into the field.”
• She had thought that she wouldn’t work in a Japanese company before she attended the event, but after she was advised by a company staffer that it was good to learn some conversational Japanese if she wishes to work in a Japanese company, her interests arose. She said, “I’ve been thinking that it’s really cool to learn it.”

• Alexander Spaulding majors in Computer Science and doesn’t take Japanese program. “I’m very interested in getting into the field, possibly learning a foreign language,” he said
• Post Quinn is in the same major and has an experience dealing with an automation engineering company. He said, “I found the event is really interesting,” and was talking with JETRO staff to get more information.

• Jacqueline Taylar is fluent in English and Spanish and has been studying the Japanese language. “It’s very interesting to know the culture as well. I’m very interested in communicating with all different languages and want to be a bridge. That’s why I’m taking Japanese,” she said.
• She is interested in working in a Japanese company, but said, “To be honest, it’s quite different.” “I’m an open minded person, so I’m learning to work with any field until I find the right one to go into,” she continued.

Participated Companies

• AAA machine, Inc.; CALSOFT Systems; CKD Automation Technology; Daiso Steel (Americas), Inc.; Daiei Trading-Chicago-Co., Inc.; Kimata Personnel & Consultants, Inc.; Kie, Kintetsu International; Nippon Express; NTA Precision Axle Corp.; OKK USA; Pacific Advisory Service; Plante Moran; and RFI, manufacturer of fasteners.

Scenes from Japan Career Day at the North Central College