Internships Abroad in Tokyo

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A Guide to Interning Abroad in Tokyo

You don’t come to the largest city in the world for the lack of opportunity. Tokyo is a mega-metropolis, a city with over 35 million inhabitants and host to many of the world’s most successful multinational corporations, a plethora of prestigious international universities, and a thriving youthful culture which acts as the beating heart of Japan. Considered one of the world’s truly global cities, landing an internship in Tokyo will surely be the first step to launching a successful international career, whatever your field of interest.

Internships in Tokyo

There is certainly no shortage of internships in Tokyo. However, in some cases the Japanese language barrier can be a discouraging factor for many who are interested in interning in Japan. Although some internationally-oriented internships in Tokyo are conducted in English, Japanese remains the primary language of business transactions in Tokyo, so those who decide to intern in Japan are often expected to be at least conversationally adept in the Japanese language. Some internships in Tokyo will combine work with language study, and interns who choose this option will find that learning Japanese opens up an entire world of opportunities.

Whatever way you choose to tackle the language barrier, your next step to finding an internship in Tokyo is selecting your field of placement. International Business, Communications, Marketing and Media, Finance, and Information Technology are all popular areas of placement. Not only is Tokyo the most populous city on the planet, but it also has the largest metropolitan economy and is a hugely influential center of global business and finance. If your ambitions lie in enterprise, than there is hardly a better way, or place on Earth, to begin your career than by interning in Tokyo.

Not surprisingly, Tokyo is also the cultural center of Japan and thus affords many internship opportunities in more artistic fields, such as Fashion Design, Art, and Architecture, too. Japanese pop-culture is impressively vibrant and unique, offering individuals who intern abroad in Tokyo with a variety of valuable opportunities to enhance their perspective of Japan. As a general rule, internships in Tokyo will typically require a commitment of at least a few weeks, but long-term internships are common and placements are available throughout the year.

Life in Tokyo

Although Tokyo is extremely densely populated, it refreshingly moves without the chaotic disorder which governs so many other cities of its size. The metropolitan area is impressively clean and efficient, with an intricate metro system that connects virtually every corner of the city. Traditional Japanese culture supplements the city’s steady pulse perfectly. Those who intern in Tokyo will find locals generally conduct their everyday affairs with a sense of mutual dignity, hospitality, and respect. The overall culture of efficiency and respect makes for a very pleasant environment for foreigners who intern abroad in Tokyo.

Still, culture shock can still be very much a pertinent reality. Interns may find life in Tokyo to be quite different from the Western world in social patterns, interactions, and expectations. Japanese culture is very cohesive and outsiders may struggle to adapt at first, being lost and confused in their business setting and internship in Tokyo in the first few days. Do not fret – locals are typically very friendly and understanding, and are willing to help interns adjust to their placement and place in Japan. Ease your way in respectfully with a polite smile and be vigilantly aware of learning opportunities, both professional and social. You will find that cultural differences are nothing to stress over, and should be celebrated enthusiastically with passionate interest.

Now for the fun part - in your free time, what better way to fully immerse yourself than going out and exploring all that this tremendous city has to offer? From the Zen undertones of Yoyogi Park to the sweeping views of Tokyo Skytree to the iconic nightlife surrounding Shibuya crossing, Tokyo is an infinitely fun and fascinating maze to be explored. Whatever your leisure time interests, interning in Tokyo will provide an exciting spin on life abroad for first time travelers and seasoned expats alike. Sample a bit of everything and do not shy away from seemingly bizarre or strange cultural opportunities – after all, these will be the ones you remember best.

Salary & Costs

Like most advanced cities of its global stature, Tokyo can be quite an expensive place to intern abroad since daily living costs are pricey. The national currency, the Japanese Yen, runs at about 108 JPY per $1. While interning abroad in Tokyo, most of your expenses will likely be bound up in food, transportation, and leisure. All of these commodities can add up if you are not careful, so it is important to be savvy about when to splurge and when to save. Shopping and dining locally, while efficiently utilizing the local metro system, will help create a sustainable thrifty lifestyle during an internship in Tokyo.

It is certainly possible to find a paid internship in Tokyo, but typically most internships are unpaid and instead may compensate interns with a combination of free meals, housing, and a stipend. Spend time researching different internship options and find the perfect internship abroad in Tokyo that matches your budget and interests.

Accommodations & Visas

Many internships abroad in Tokyo will help you in organizing housing, either in group or independent living arrangements. Communicate with your program or host employer early on about available housing options as well as your personal preferences. If you are planning on finding housing independently, then do your research carefully and try to find a location that is near to your internship placement.  Tokyo is absolutely massive and contains 23 special wards, 26 cities, and four sub-prefectures, so your search for an apartment will start out quite broad. Consider affordability, included utilities, and especially location when browsing a variety of options.

If your internship in Tokyo lasts for more than 90 days then you will likely need to apply for a temporary employment visa to intern in Tokyo. Your internship abroad program provider or Japanese employer will typically help to facilitate this process though.

Benefits & Challenges

There are few cities on earth which are all at once globally influential, culturally unique, and intellectually fascinating, such as Tokyo. As the central life vein of Japan for centuries, Tokyo thrives as the capital city of one of the world’s oldest and greatest civilizations.

Today a hub of international commerce, wealth, and cultural influence, there are few better places to complete an internship abroad. If you are prepared to take on the challenge and tackle the Japanese language and cultural barriers, then interning abroad in Tokyo will provide you with a truly life changing professional experience.

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A Guide To
Interning Abroad in Tokyo


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