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Career compass Students and career choices

Demanding a curiosity that can enjoy unprecedented work and a challenging spirit

Tomonori Ota
Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Human Relations Department, Personnel Development Office

In this article "Career Compass," we hear the latest job-hunting information and how they generally perceive involvement in job-hunting from people in charge of recruitment. This time, we asked Mr. Ota, who is in charge of recruitment at Mitsui & Co., Ltd. about work satisfaction at a trading company and any advice he has for students.

Tackling unsolved issues

If trading company work could be described in a word, I think it would be expressed as "finding worldwide problems and solving them from a business point of view". Because we deal with unsolved issues, it becomes "going to areas where no one has ever been and doing work that no one has ever done." The challenge of unprecedented work itself can be thought of as the real thrill of a trading company. In one of the doctrines our company places importance on is "challenge and creativity," but I think these words are also clearly expressed in the shape of our employees' work.

To be a little more precise, I believe that people who can enjoy their work by proceeding with a project through collecting information from scratch, ascertaining the problem, and involving people around them are suited for work at a trading company. Moving a lot of people is extremely difficult and there are times when one worries about things not going to plan, but I think that people who can feel satisfaction in that can enjoy work at a trading company.

At present, our company's results may, at a glance, appear favorable and stable, but in a world that is surrounded by a rapidly changing environment, strong thoughts of having to find the next seeds of business and take up the challenge, are in workers' minds. With no existing conventional business methods, our company is always required to come up with new structures.

Curiosity is the driving force of work

In our company, from a human resource training perspective, there is a system where employees must experience work in two posts or two businesses in their first nine years in the company, accumulating experience in various jobs to become people who can deal with environmental changes. I think that by being involved in various jobs, having curiosity and an inquiring mind towards even unknown fields leads to daily learning, which in turn leads to the driving force behind work

In a word, corporate culture is free and easy. This is shown in the "tolerant acceptance of junior opinions by seniors." Looking back on my own experience, I was taken aback as a newcomer when a senior suddenly demanded my opinion in a meeting by asking, "What do you think?," but I gradually got used to it, and now I give my own opinions and feel a sense of job satisfaction by proceeding ahead with my own thoughts as a starting point. If young workers assert their opinions to superiors, or even show a bit of impertinent defiance, if they can give a correct and logical explanation, the superiors will watch over them with an attitude of, "It's alright to make mistakes, just give it a go."

Boost your ability to think from the basics and building your own fixed axis

I believe that job-hunting is about matching. At an interview, it isn't a person's superiority or inferiority that is judged, but whether there is mutual compatibility or not. Even if you hide your true self by pretending to be a person who is suitable for that company, working at a company you aren't compatible with will be tough. At an interview, rather than presenting a fake version of yourself, wouldn't it be better to talk lively about what you have devoted your life to and things you have enjoyed?

What I feel being in charge of recruitment is that many students have stopped thinking. There are times when I am perplexed when students ask me "What kind of questions should I ask when graduates visit?" One reason I can think of is that students are satisfied when entering university and haven't had the opportunity to think about what they want to do in the future by the time the job-hunting season rolls around. Parents also don't provide a life philosophy of "how you should live life", and are overprotective until university entrance exams, and then let their children go as soon as they enter university. There are more than a few examples where a student's first difficulty is job-hunting. In recent times, I have increasing opportunities to meet overseas students from China and South Korea etc., but they work extremely hard in their studies and possess a hunger and axis of their own thoughts that Japanese students don't. Japanese students may not be able to compete when exposed to international competition.

First of all, I want students to think anew about why they entered university and devote themselves to things they can only do while students. The best thing to do would be to improve their English skills, and more than that, acquire what is the foundation for everything, the ability to think about matters in your own mind. When you head out into the working world, there are only problems with no right solutions. It is especially difficult in trading company work which deals with unsolved problems, because you cannot make decisions without your own fixed axis. I want you to acquire "thinking skills from the fundamentals" while you have time as a student.

From the Career Center
Stock up on productivity for entering the workforce

In order to have your own clear thoughts about things you want to do in the future and how to be involved with the community, it is necessary to experience first-hand as many issues facing society as possible. And, unless you have the ability to deeply think about matters, you won't be able to transform those valuable experiences into sustenance of growth. Please be aware of these points and take action as early as possible during your student life. Through action, anguish and thinking, I want you to stock up on productivity for entering the workforce.

Tomonori Ota
Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Human Relations Department, Personnel Development Office

Graduated from the Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo in 2007. After working in the Consumer Service Operations First Headquarters Strategy Planning Office, he was in charge of managing industrial companies dealing with B to C Business, marketing, and accounts management in the Media Department. Managed overseas activities in China, Brazil, Indonesia, Taiwan and Vietnam from 2009 and took up his current position in September 2010. Was a sports-orientated student devoted to American Football in his university days.

Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
A major Japanese trading company established in 1947 (former Mitsui & Co. was established in 1876.) Aims to be a "collective global business" that can meet the needs of customers around the world and has a global network covering 66 countries. Developing a diverse range of businesses in four lines of business, resources and energy, distribution networks, life support industry, and infrastructure.