The Job Hunt – Getting Started

My name is Danielle and senior year of college I was a Japanese 101 tutor and that was the only job that I had at Gettysburg College. I did not do any sort of internship. Over my summers I worked at a movie theater or as a nanny. I am currently working as an administrative assistant in the Economics Department at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C. This post is about why I chose to work after school and [cue daunting music] the actual job search.


The first major choice that I was confronted with senior year of college (when it finally hit me that I was actually going to graduate in the spring) was whether or not to apply to grad school. After a few months of thinking about it, I realized that while I still wanted to go to grad school eventually, I had no idea what I wanted to study or what career I wanted to pursue. Therefore, I decided I had better find a job. This led me to the second big decision that I had to make: whether or not I wanted to work in Japan or the US. Mostly for family reasons, I decided to try to find a Japan-related job in the United States. After making this decision, I promptly began procrastinating starting the search. I actually did not even start looking for a job until a month after I graduated.

Preface- A bit of Advice

If you are still a student, for your own sanity, unless you intend to take some time off after you graduate, do not wait to start looking. The job market now in 2010 is extremely competitive and that is not likely to change soon. Entry level positions are hard to come by and you may find yourself caught in the terrible loop hole of already needing 1-3 years experience to apply for something labeled as an entry level position. Sometimes a B.A. can be substituted for that, but sometimes it can’t.

Japan-Related Job Sites

It didn’t take me that long to realize that the job search can be very difficult and intimidating especially if you have no idea where to start looking. Below I have listed some helpful sites for those specifically looking to use your acquired Japanese Studies skills. Some I personally used and some were suggested by friends (thanks guys!). I highly recommend checking them out first to see what might be available to you and to begin the process of putting your resume out there for employers to see.

Career Forum.Net is a site for English-Japanese bilingual speakers.

TOP the HR Professionals. This site has lists of Entry Level Jobs that have something to do with Japan for college graduates. I put my resume on and someone from TOP called me back in about one week to ask what type of Japan-related career I was interested in.

Interesse International Inc. I found out about this site through some of my Japanese friends. It provides HR and employment services within the U.S. and between Japan and the U.S.

Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC). Definitely check out this resource! The JICC is a part of the Embassy of Japan. You can find extremely helpful links under the “Japan-related links” section, particularly if you scroll down to “Employment in Japan” or “Cultural Exchange.” Look under “Category Quick Links” on the right side of the screen to reach these options faster.

Also, be sure to check out the JICC and Embassy of Japan homepage. We post available internships and jobs under “Employment” or “Announcements”. My awesome friend Nyssa told me about the administrative assistant job at the Japanese Embassy and checking their website is how I got the job.

Embassy of Japan in DC

Resumes – Cover Letter

This has been mostly covered by Rachel, but I wanted to add this information about Cover Letters. Many formats are acceptable, but if you do not know where to start, I found this tutorial to be very helpful and I used it to write my cover letter for the Embassy.

“How to write a Cover Letter” tutorial on Gettysburg’s website here: … letter.pdf .

The internet alone will NOT get you a JOB – Talk to People

You can only get so far on the internet. I also avidly looked through newspapers. I recommend going to job fairs and talking to people. Networking is necessary. Ask your friends, teachers, parents, parent’s friends etc. The career center at your college is a great resource as well. USE THEM. During my senior year I kept putting off going to the career center to talk to someone and I wound up never going. I think that I would have been much more prepared to start looking for jobs if I had gone.


Beginning this process is difficult. Continuing it after months of looking is even harder. You may find yourself settling for a job you don’t particularly want. I think that if you need to start working, especially if you have debt (student loans!), instead of waiting for that dream job to come along you have to start somewhere. It is definitely worth it to seriously look extensively for something you are excited about doing, but do not think less of yourself if you just need to work for a paycheck. Having a job may give you less time to look for a more desirable job, but you will gain experience and knowledge of the process that can only make you a better candidate in the future. Plus, you get paid.

– Danielle

If you have anymore useful links in the Japanese-related job hunt, please email them to us at so we can include them in future posts!


photo by Brandon Christopher Warren

This entry was posted in CVs and resumes, embassy, jobs, main posts, social networking, Uncategorized, useful links and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Job Hunt – Getting Started

  1. Arty says:

    Hi there, I am a 2013 Jet applicant who has been been placed in Natori city. I, like you, have some initial concerns, mainly radioactivity of the area and food. I am trying to find someone who lives there to talk to, and I was hoping maybe I could email you and get your views on my concerns. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • reedda02 says:


      Thanks for your comment and sorry for my late reply!

      First of all, Congratulations on your acceptance to the JET Program. MIyagi is a wonderful place to live, but in light of recent events, I completely understand your concerns.

      Full disclosure: one of the reasons I did not reply immediately to your comment is because CLAIR (The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations) has become much more strict this year regarding current JETs contacting short-listed JETs. Basically, they do not want us to contact you at all until all of the official information regarding your position and schools and predecessor has been sent to you. Also, your predecessor will be able to answer all of your questions and concerns with much more detail than I can.

      Having said that, when I first came two years ago, about 4 1/2 months after the disaster, I was told that most food was safe to eat and had very low levels of radioactivity (or as they say, safe levels of radioactivity). I think the only food I really avoided was fish and maybe some fresh produce, but even that was mostly imported from other prefectures since so many farms were affected in the disaster. There were daily radioactivity reports in newspapers etc. and my teachers at school even checked the grounds with a Geiger counter routinely. Even at that time, the reported levels of radioactivity were a little higher than normal but still deemed safe. Sendai was safely outside all of the exclusion zones around Fukushima including the U.S. exclusion zone which was much larger than the Japanese Gov. exclusion zone.

      Now, for me, radiation is just a background concern. I don’t worry about it in food I eat and I drink water from the tap. I actually almost never think about it and life is fairly normal here. I visit the coasts a few times a year to do volunteer work and I have been able to see a lot of the progress made first hand. It’s incredible.

      Sendai Airport is in Natori and I am sure you saw it on the news right after the disaster. Today, its a fully functioning airport again. I have personally used it quite a few times with no problems. It`s hard to believe how badly affected it was in the tsunami when you look at it today. The surrounding area is still a bit barren, but reconstruction is happening.

      This was my experience as a Sendai City ALT, and it is a bit different for ALTs in other, more rural areas of Miyagi. I recommend joining the Miyagi site on facebook where they may be better able to address your specific concerns.

      Also, if it helps, I love living here and feel very lucky to have been placed in Sendai. I do not regret making this decision at all!

      Danielle Reed

      On Thu, May 23, 2013 at 9:21 AM, What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese

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