This week I’d like to take a moment to address a frequently asked question we get here at Shinpai Deshou to clarify for our readers some of the reasons behind our daily content:
If the title of your blog is “What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?” why don’t you have more content related to BAs instead of MAs and PhDs (especially job postings)?
It is true that many of our job openings listed are for PhD or MA level applicants, and continuing on for your MA or PhD is one of many options people have after acquiring their BA. There are three main reasons our information leans towards higher level education and academia:
1) More and more, the market demands higher levels of Japanese to acquire positions, and often getting an MA or PhD before continuing into the job market (regardless of where your focus is!) is a natural or necessary move for people. Most people will tell you that you have to study Japanese for 7 or 8 years to become “fluent.” If you’re thinking of getting even a non-academic job that does happen to require high level language skills, you may have to consider MA and PhD programs in order to get the training you need. But keep in mind that we also often post positions such as international program coordinators, directors of international programs, internships, etc., which are not necessarily “academic” positions, but can be rooted in academic programs. Learning and language are natural partners.
2) These jobs offer insight into the variety of fields people who are pursuing their BA might focus their studies if they are serious about continuing with Japanese. Aside from the humanities, there’s political science, international relations, film, media… with many non-academic jobs into which these areas could certainly branch off. Unless already entrenched in the academic community and familiar with the mailing lists that post many of these jobs (I know that as a BA I certainly wasn’t!), people may be unaware of these diverse opportunities. We try to post as many non-academic positions as come our way. These hopefully serve as a useful guide for others to see how Japanese can be used, but they can’t be all inclusive. What comes into our inboxes directly is what we sift through and post a variety of. The majority of jobs advertised via mailing list happen to be in academia, where you’re going to find the demand for higher degrees.
3) We simply don’t have the time or resources to search out all of the translation positions, business opportunities, etc. that are out there on the internet (although we are currently recruiting people with this experience to write articles for us!). Our blog should not be considered a one-stop source for potential employment opportunities. A number of these are not the type of positions that have mailing lists, or if they do, our writers may not be in those fields or have access to their mailing lists. Many have to be searched for on databases and individual websites. This is why we provide links under our “Employment” section (such as “Job Sites” – which we hope to update with more soon!) for people to seek out other options as applicable to them. In addition, under our “Articles” section we have a broader selection of information for people who may want to start their careers directly after a BA (such as pursuing military options, teaching abroad, amateur translation, using consulting agencies for the job search, etc.). Our site otherwise tries to provide a variety of information on events, written works, personal experiences, and other aspects of working on Japanese that will be helpful for BA students to decide where they’re taking their Japanese next. Our job opening posts are meant not only to be helpful for those actually looking for this level of position, but people who want to see what types of positions open up and what fields seek what kind of qualifications. They are meant to be supplementary content to our more permanent materials which are more relevant to non-academic pursuits and prompt people to think about the variety of fields that use Japanese.
That being said, the title of the blog “What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?” should not be interpreted that people stopping at the BA are our primary focus. Rather, that getting asked this question, or something similar (“So, what do you do with Japanese??”) is typically a starting point from which many of us begin to think critically about our future in the Japanese field and what we can do after that BA. Some will stop at the BA, some won’t. Shinpai Deshou hopes to alleviate some of the fears surrounding this question by offering more insight into how to tackle the future and become aware of the variety of options out there, regardless of your intended level of degree. And “What the heck do I do with Japanese?” just isn’t as catchy of a title, is it? 😉
We greatly appreciate feedback from people who have expressed concern over this, and if anyone who did stop at the BA and hop directly into a Japan-related career feels they have advice or insight that they’d like to share with other readers, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss a contribution to the blog! We welcome writers from all different areas of the field.