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Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (May)

Career Compass

The first step to a career is developing strengths and accumulating varied experiences

Kahoru Maeda
President, Progress Co., Ltd.

“Career Compass” is a new feature starting from this issue. This feature helps students to consider matters related to selecting a career path after graduation.
In the first installment of this feature, we will discuss the current career environment surrounding students with career consultant Kahoru Maeda. Ms. Maeda has spent many years providing guidance to students through events such as those held by the Waseda University Career Center.

A vital period for deciding one’s path in life

-- First, would you please explain about the “career” which university students need to consider?

When asking students to consider their career, I want them to think about what they will do to support themselves for the rest of their lives. In Japan, the first major step in selecting a career takes place when an individual graduates from university. Although corporations have become slightly friendlier to career changes in recent years, the majority of hiring by corporations is still focused on new university graduates. Even when individuals change careers in their late 20s, their first employment position is very important as the first step in their careers. Therefore, then 4 years spent in university are an important period for deciding one’s path in life. I hope that students are conscious of this fact while studying at university.

-- So, finding employment following graduation from university is the start of an individual’s working career. In recent years, have there been any changes in the type of student that corporation seek?

The type of student sought varies depending on the corporation. However, in an age of rapid changes, it is said that independence and adaptability are the two pillars which support a career. In other words, corporations seek an individual who is conscious of their own strengths and is flexible enough to work in any country or organization. Students who possess these two abilities are sought by many corporations.

-- What must be done to acquire these two qualities during time spent studying as a university student?

Independence can be created by recognizing one’s own strengths as appraised by other and by refining one’s self. I am often consulted by students who say that they lack individual strengths such as leadership and initiative. However, strengths are not always such stereotypical traits. For example, I had one student gain employment at a large stationary manufacturer by emphasizing her sensitivity to the needs of others. The important thing is for students to recognize and develop their strengths. To continue, adaptability can be refined through various social experiences such as club activities, volunteer activities and part-time work. Students should experience working together with a variety of people of different ages and cultures. Such experiences will give students the ability to utilize their personal skills in any situation. Corporations also place emphasis on social experiences. Therefore, although study at university is of course important, it is important for students to seek other social experiences which will allow them to grow as individuals.

Be conscious of working

-- Parents are always very interested in their child’s search for employment. What can parents do to help?

Before their child begins a full-scale search for employment, it would be helpful if parents serve as a model of a “working individual.” Parents should discuss their own work. They should also talk with children about how relatives and other close individuals in their 30s and 40s selected their workplace and about the work style of those individuals. This kind of discussion will enable children to obtain a specific image towards the act of working. Conversely, simply saying “do what makes you happy” is of no support to a confused child. Children become stuck because the severe employment environment will not allow them to do what makes them happy. They become confused because they don’t know what kind of work will make them happy. Therefore, parents should encourage their children to make the most of every important employment opportunity by applying to various corporations as a new university graduate.

-- Finally, could you please discuss points that students should keep in mind when utilizing the career support of universities?

Waseda University is one school that offers good support. Information from many corporations is collected at the Career Center, and I cannot think of another university that offers so many chances for student’s job search. Also, students at Waseda University are quick to accept new challenges. Therefore, I recommend that students start to think about employment upon entering their 2nd year at university. Students should actively participate in employment seminars and other events. To repeat my earlier statement, university is an important period before embarking upon one’s career. I hope that students will embark upon their careers while making intelligent use of support offered by the university.

Kahoru Maeda
President, Progress Co., Ltd.

Graduate from the Waseda University school of Letters, Arts and Sciences I with a major in Japanese history. Obtained her MBA in career design at Hosei University Graduate School. President of Progress Co., Ltd., a company which conducts child education, career education and internal education for corporations. Serves as a corporate consultant and an instructor for employee training. Also provides career education and employment guidance for students at schools such as Waseda University and the University of Tokyo.