Leaving a Japanese university. Master’s students career plans

It is entrance exam high time in Japan. Not only future bachelors, but also the future masters are shivering with anticipation. If you think of enrolling into a Japanese university for your master’s degree and consider a two-year master’s programme in Humanities, this is just the right section for you. I won’t write about how to enter a Japanese university, every university provides detailed guidelines to the entrance procedures on their webpages. Instead I will provide information on what career choices await you as a foreign student enrolled in master’s courses in Japan.

Not long ago I worked as a one-day assistant during a master’s thesis defence. And although my job didn’t include anything that dealt with the master’s and their dissertations, I managed to talk to the master’s students of my university to find out their post-master career plans.

After graduating from a Japanese university

I was very happy to hear that some students considered enrolling into doctorate courses.

However, the majority of the students with whom I talked today planed to find a job in Japan. There were some students who planned to leave Japan, but very few.

Those students who planned to stay in Japan either have already found the job, or were about to get an offer. They told me that they were job hunting during their last year of master’s. They were writing their thesis and searching for a job at the same time. Job hunting process is very bureaucratic in Japan, you have to write a CV, write a lot of accompanying papers, including the reason of application. The deadlines are very strict, so it is a miracle that the students could both find a job and complete a thesis.

Needless to say that those students who planned to stay in Japan were capable of using Japanese at work. So if you think about enrolling into the master’s program in Japan and find a job after graduation, you need to learn Japanese as soon as possible.

Another interesting information, that the students who signed the contracts with their employers told me that the job they got didn’t really have anything to do with their scientific field. There were some exceptions, but, all in all, the master’s students entered the Japanese companies as newly hired staff. Which means that the company will be training them according to the company’s needs.

I’ve heard that the native Japanese students, once acquired a degree, are not obliged to work according to the qualifications given by their universities. I also heard that it is vice versa in case of foreign students. My conversation with master’s students, however, didn’t prove that rumour. As, for example, a girl who wrote a thesis on the theme of proverbs was planning to work in a travelling agency.

So if your goal is not only study but to stay in Japan, I suggest you learn about Japanese job-hunting and recruiting system as soon as you enter the country. Japanese language will become a very important factor. Start learning the basics even before coming to Japan. Believe me, two years will not allow you to use Japanese at work. And everything is possible!

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