On the path to a career in Norway: An interview with Saki Okuda
After a year as a high school student in Alta Saki Okuda decided to come back to Norway. The reason for that was a wish to learn more about the language and culture. Now, Saki has spent almost five years in Norway, lately as a master’s student in Social Communication at the University of Agder in Kristiansand. Her master’s degree includes an internship program, which she did at the Innovation Norway offices in Oslo and Tokyo.
“I didn’t think about working for a communication agency in Kristiansand as it seemed scary for me. I wanted to work with something related to Norway-Japan, as perhaps many exchange students want. I wrote a paper comparing Visit Norway and Visit Finland in my first semester, and I got the idea to apply for internship at Innovation Norway”.
Saki says that the way to find an internship and a part-time job in Norway differs from the way one does it in Japan. In Japan people don’t just email a company asking for a job, and the process is often more formal and time consuming. She says that network is very important in Norway compared to Japan.
“I visited one of my former teachers at the University of Bergen where I took my Bachelor’s degree, wondering if she could connect me with the regional director for Asia in Innovation Norway in Oslo. Through this introduction I was able to get my internship. I’d advice Japanese students wanting to work in Norway to contact potential employers directly if possible”.
Saki had many interesting tasks during her internship. Halfway through her program, she came to Tokyo to continue her work.
“I started my internship with following my boss around to see how he works; we went to meetings and webinars. The most important part of my work was for the communications department in Oslo. I helped with managing blog posts where they inform about business opportunities for Norwegian companies. I also collected and summarized information for market advisers in the office, updated information on their web-page, and did some translation work. This year in Tokyo, they held a regional meeting where representatives from all the Asian offices attended. It was exciting to meet everybody in person, people who I only had worked with by emails and skype-meetings from Oslo and Tokyo.”
Saki says that through her internship she got the opportunity to work in a work environment she would not be able to experience through a regular part-time job.
“I’ve heard that Norwegian companies often will not hire candidates without working experience. This internship gave me a valuable working experience.”
She says she feels more confident about the prospects of working in Norway in the future.
“I want to try and test myself to find a work in Norway as it was the main reason to take my master’s. I think many exchange students who have stayed in a country for some years and learned the language and culture can share the feeling that it would feel like a bit of a waste if you just go back to your home country after finishing your studies. I often think that it would be safer and easier mentally to just live and work in Japan, where I understand the language and culture fully, but this is what I decided to try in my life. I’m still nervous, but I hope this internship experience helps me seem confident to companies in Norway. I’m really thankful for this great opportunity, and hope I contributed to Innovation Norway, too.”
And about doing an internship, Saki says:
“I absolutely recommend students to do an internship!”