Charles Keenan - 2014 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

I had a vested interest in Japan ever since I was a young child. That interest bloomed into inputting years and years of language study all in hopes of one day achieving my dream of going to Japan. And finally, after entering college, I sought out any and all opportunities to travel and study or work in the country. To my jubilee, I was able to realize that dream thanks to Internship in Japan. I deeply wanted to expand my worldview and hone my language skills, among other things, and the aforementioned program helped me do just that.

Emcees at Pacific Roots 2015 in Yokohama, Japan
Emceeing in Japanese and English at Pacific Roots 2015 in Yokohama, Japan

Why did you choose Internship in Japan?

I actually chose this program because a family friend suggested them to me. I was looking high and low for a good program, but this one came into my sights just in time and I am glad it did. I actually went through this same program in 2013, 2014, and 2015 because I enjoyed it so much!

What was your favorite part about Tokyo?

Being that Tokyo is one of the major "hubs" of the world and its many cultures, I especially loved the vast diversity of people found in the city while still maintaining a traditional Japanese backdrop. I have been to some other major cities, such as Los Angeles, New York, London, etc., but Tokyo has an atmosphere unlike any other.

Tokyo, Japan exhibits a juxtaposition between Japanese pop culture and Western modernity in daily life that I might argue not many other cities have, and that was easily my favorite part.

What made your experience abroad unique?

My experience abroad was unique because of the opportunities I was afforded due to my personal interests and initial language skill level. Thanks to both said aspects, and of course Internship in Japan, I was able to work in a company that most other of my peers back home and in Japan were not even aware existed. Friends and family often ask what I did in Japan and are extremely intrigued to hear that I worked in a Japanese hip-hop record label, and indeed that is not a common thing to experience. I am very grateful for it.

Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Shibuya, Tokyo

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The Internship in Japan staff was always prepared with detailed and helpful answers to my various questions and concerns. From language help to coping with culture shock, the local staff was nothing short of patient and encouraging.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

Internship in Japan offers free language lessons for their interns at their main office building. Unfortunately, over the three years I participated in their program, I never utilized this opportunity, despite its potential to further develop my language ability. Therefore, I wish I had taken some time to take a few classes with them.

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

I worked in a Japanese music label that specialized in soul, hip-hop, and reggae. I worked side-by-side with the owner of the company himself on the event management sector, meaning that I would spearhead marketing efforts, help set up venues, translate on the spot (from Japanese to English and vice-versa), and so much more. My typical day consisted of these activities, but were not limited to such.

View of Yokohama, Japan
Yokohama, Japan

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

Traveling and exploring. I often set off on my own miniature adventures through Tokyo seeking out landmarks and other points of interest. The beauty of having free time in Tokyo for me was being able to get lost in the city and loving every moment of it. Since Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, I never felt in danger during even my nighttime explorations. Free time in Tokyo for me is nothing like free time in my home country of the United States, and that's a plus.

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?

Internship in Japan prepared accommodation for me in a share house with other residents. There were many fantastic aspects about the living situation provided to me, but perhaps my favorite part was meeting the current residents and engaging in daily friendly dialogue. The best way to gain new perspective is to meet people and understand their stories, therefore this share house accommodation was simply perfect for that.

What is one thing every prospective intern should know before interning in Japan?

Internship in Japan, specifically, holds many exchange parties to connect interns, staff, and other related people at their office. I highly encourage future participants to attend these parties! Not only do they serve free food and drink, but more importantly they are wonderful platforms for cultural exchange; I have made many great connections through them.

Interns at an office in Japan
Photo of me (in white) with other interns

Now that you're home, how has interning abroad impacted your life?

It has given me more drive, as an undergrad student, to continue pushing towards earning my degrees in Japanese language and literature and Chinese language and literature, so that I can finish proudly and move back to Japan to work towards success in my career and my pursuit of knowledge.

Would you recommend Internship in Japan to others? Why?

Yes! As previously mentioned, Internship in Japan is nothing but helpful. As soon as you apply, they will guide you step-by-step in acquiring your ideal internship. Because of the staff's never ending assistance, my transition all the way across the world from the U.S. to Japan was easier than I could have imagined. By simply providing your resume and other related documents, you're already halfway done with the process. After which they will ask about your interests and get acquainted with you before outreaching to companies that will suit your interests and needs best. There are so many reasons why I would recommend this program, but these are but a few!