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Campus Now

Midsummer Issue (Jul. 2013)

Career compass
Students and career choices

Gather information using your own feet and make a satisfactory choice of your career path.

Shotaro Ono
Assistant to Director at the Human Resource Planning Unit, Human Resource Department, Japan International Cooperation Agency

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. In this edition, we asked Mr. Ono of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for human resources that JICA is looking for and his advice to students.

As a career option in international cooperation

There are many career options in international cooperation. Nowadays, you can be involved at private corporations through CSR and BOP business*. If you want to work in an overseas local site, you should work at a NGO or development consulting company. If you want to be involved with diplomacy, you can work at an embassy or Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There is also a career option of being involved with international cooperation as a specialist in law, etc. There is a program called SATREPS (Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development), which is a Japanese government program that promotes international joint research between developing countries and Japanese researchers targeting global issues such as environment and infectious diseases. As part of this program, you can also be involved with international cooperation as a researcher.

As an option among many, JICA is one of the largest development aid agencies, which has projects in more than 150 countries and regions around the world. The work of JICA officers is to support strengthening developing countries by tackling issues of developing countries and providing the best solution with practical involvement and academic perspectives, in an effort to build a rich and peaceful future for everyone.

Passion for solving issues in developing countries

The workplace of JICA is, in a word, a zoo. This is because varieties of people with different specialized skills are fully demonstrating their personalities and strengths to solve various issues of developing countries such as poverty, hunger, prevailing infectious diseases, conflicts, and environmental destruction. What is common among them is to solve issues of developing countries. In order to achieve the goal, everyone continuously works on self improvement and enhances their knowledge to enable them to even have academic discussions. Even a young officer needs to talk as a representative of JICA with a representative of a country. Therefore there is a pressure to always study more. To support them, various opportunities are offered to the JICA officers to strengthen their capacities. Those opportunities include language trainings and many more trainings to acquire necessary knowledge for work. There is also a support to study at graduate schools overseas or temporary work at international organizations (e.g. World Bank, Asian Development Bank). It is usually difficult to be employed by an international organization with a college degree. However, in case of JICA, half of the new employees have only college degree, and they will be given a chance to obtain a Master’s Degree after they become JICA officers. This is one of the appealing points of JICA.

Capacities to perform on site, conceptualize ideas, and disseminate information are required for the JICA officers.

As professionals in international cooperation, JICA officers are required to have capacities to perform on site, conceptualize ideas and disseminate information. They need to accurately identify the local needs based on trust relationships with many stakeholders. They need to conceptualize ideas that may maximize the development effects, even if they are unconventional approaches. And they need to disseminate the knowledge and findings gained from their work and enhance the presence of Japan in the international society. During the interview for recruitment, we try to find people who have the basic character for the above capacities and can play an active role at JICA. In addition, not only the work at JICA but any work of international cooperation requires a spirit of never-give-up against complicated issues and to change the world.

It is fine to fail. Make a wholehearted effort on something.

When I meet with students for recruitment, I feel that there are less and less students who had made a wholehearted effort on something. For example, even if they have experiences of studying overseas for one year or working at a NGO, they cannot tell us how they positioned these experiences to achieve their future objectives. In order not to waste four years of university, in which some free times are available, students should think of their career at an early stage and take actions that lead to their career goal. Even if they fail and regret for their action, it would be one of the important lessons. There are many things that can only be understood after taking action.

In my case, I became aware of ethnic issues that were not covered by mass media, etc, and wondered how the issues could be disseminated and what I could do for the people who were faced with the issues. As I was exploring international cooperation agencies, I found out about Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), which later merged with JICA. I wanted to learn not only about their work but people who actually worked there. So I used my university connections to visit some alumni. I also talked to a JBIC officer after symposium to collect information. Knowing as knowledge and knowing through experiences are two completely different things. I hope that students will not be satisfied with secondary information available on the Internet but collect information using their own feet and conduct satisfactory job hunting.

* BOP Business: Sustainable business targeting low income people in developing countries

Shotaro Ono
Assistant to Director at the Human Resource Planning Unit, Human Resource Department, Japan International Cooperation Agency

Graduated from the Faculty of Integrated Human Studies, Kyoto University. Began working at Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) in 2006. Responsible for the projects in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and China in the field of financial cooperation. In 2008, as JBIC’s overseas economic cooperation section was merged with JICA, he was transferred to JICA. From 2009, worked in Iraq, and took up the current position in 2012.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
Since the beginning of technical cooperation in the 1950s, JICA went through several organizational restructuring, and in 2003, it was established as the Japan International Cooperation Agency. In 2008, JICA became one of the largest integrated development aid agencies in the world that coordinates ODA for the government of Japan. It provides various support menus including technical cooperation, loan assistance, grant aid, international emergency assistance, and public participatory cooperation in more than 150 countries and regions around the world.

From Career Center
Making wholehearted efforts on your choices

At Waseda University, many students yearn for the work in international cooperation. The capacities to perform on site, conceptualize ideas and disseminate information and the spirit of never-give-up to change the world, as Ono said, can be acquired when students make independent choices and push themselves to the max to work on their choices. Even if some activities do not seem to be directly connected with their career in a short term, we hope they bravely challenge them.