Kim So-jung, 24, is a first-year student at Waseda Business School (WBS) of Waseda University. After finishing undergraduate studies at the same school, she took an internship at an advertising agency in Korea.
After interning at both Korean and Japanese companies, she decided to pursue an MBA degree before choosing a career path.
What made you decide to study in Japan and choose the MBA program of Waseda University?
Although many believe the Japanese market is so mature that it provides fewer opportunities than growing markets such as China do, we can learn many things from Japan, which in fact has remained so strong.
Waseda University has a long history, and its MBA course has successfully globalized. Professors at the WBS are highly learned and are very serious about their fields while the curriculum of the MBA course is well organized compared to others in Japan.
Being an MBA student in Japan, there are a lot of good opportunities to network for a desired career path.
What factors make a successful MBA life? In retrospect, what do you wish you had known before you pursued your MBA education?
Since I hadn’t had a full-time job before starting the course at WBS, I thought it could be my weak point in searching for a permanent job after graduation. I decided to approach Business Administration academically instead.
When I started the course, it took me a long time to fully understand the general idea of Business Administration. In order to overcome this, I tried to learn from my classmates by working together and listening to their opinions whenever I faced difficulties.
If I had had working experience, I could have understood the course more thoroughly. When I was confronted with problems, however, I was able to approach it with a fresh point of view and solve it in more unique ways than other experienced colleagues could.
What kinds of networking opportunities did WBS provide? Which one did you find most helpful?
There are hundreds of club activities programs in Waseda University, in which almost every student participates. Students can proactively create networking opportunities through taking part in different kinds of activities, and it gives them sense of belonging.
What kind of skills Japanese companies look for when they recruit foreign applicants?
The ability to speak Japanese is the most important. Although English is spoken in many international companies, most office workers in Japan communicate in Japanese. The companies do not expect native level of fluency from foreign applicants, but their language proficiency has to be good enough for them to deal with business matters.
Also, English speaking skills are becoming more important in these days. If foreign applicants speak both Japanese and English fluently, it will be very helpful for them to get a great position, as many Japanese companies are now trying to expand abroad.
What is your long-term goal?
My final goal is to become a marketing strategist. I plan to go back to Korea and work there. I believe my academic knowledge will definitely helpful for playing a critical role as a proactive employee at a Korean company.
What advice would you give to MBA candidates?
I believe setting a goal is highly important. The goal doesn’t have to be perfect. While you are studying an MBA course, the goal can change through various experiences. However, you can stay motivated and active with a goal.