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Career Designing
The Practicing of Autonomous and Independent Career Designs

Tatsunori Matsui
Professor, Faculty of Human Sciences, Waseda University

Why “career design”?

If you Google career design (in the Japanese syllabary), you will get hits for an astounding 3,060,000 sites (as of February 18, 2011). The number of hits would probably have been a little lower a few years ago, and the term might not even have existed a little before that-before the bursting of the economic bubble, for example. This transliteration of career design is a Japanese-English term and is defined in many websites as the envisaging of aspects devoted to work in one's life. They say that, it is necessary to constantly acquire new forms of knowledge and to design a career so that one can become a vital human resource because corporations have changed their lifetime employment systems and seniority-based systems to systems based on merit and performance with the bursting of the economic bubble.

However, the career design concept should not only be applicable within corporations. It should also be expanded a bit more to become a part of daily life. In other words, careers are not simply jobs or occupations. They are activities to be conducted independently and autonomously for those other than oneself. For example, volunteer activities, group activities, regional activities, organizing events, and so on... these are all careers. First of all, the equivalent of design in Japanese is ishou, which means a project or plan for ways to add value. But what is value? Value is self-growth. Therefore, career design should be regarded as thinking and acting independently and autonomously on ways to contribute to the society where one was born, and growing.

Toward the development of career design studies through business-academia collaborations

Let us now take a look at career design in institutions of higher education. The abilities, needs, etc. of students enrolled in institutions of higher education are steadily diversifying due to factors such as the declining birthrate along with the growing proportion of elderly people, and the growing rate of matriculation to universities. The needs in society's institutions of higher education are also becoming diversified due to highly information-oriented globalization. That is, a good foundation to be a member of society with skills such as problem-solving skills and human resource management skills, the overall combining of practical skills and expertise (research and educational skills) in a well-balanced manner, and the fostering of human resources who can become core figures of organizations-in addition to the conventional form of education that focuses on expertise-play an important role in maintaining the quality of students (undergraduate and graduate students). This is why an educational environment where students can be involved in their career design independently and autonomously is vital.

This is also why departments, faculties, and the like advocating career design have started to appear in Japan. There are many curriculums where education (how people develop), management (how people work), and culture (how people live) have been integrated, and are characterized by these topics. However, it is important to find how the expertise accumulated by corporations can be incorporated into university education in order to realize the career design described above.

Therefore, Waseda University has implemented the Building project for career design through business-academia collaborations (provisional title) as part of the Business development support system for advanced education and research, for two years, between 2009 and 2010. The main goal was a close collaboration between specific corporations and the university, for supporting the acquisition of independent and autonomous career design abilities by students (undergraduate and graduate students). An image of the business-academia collaboration is as shown in Diagram 1. The objectives of the collaboration were the growth of both the university and the corporations as organizations through this spiral collaboration, and applying the outcome of the collaboration to the academic systematizing of practical sciences (career design) where theory and practice have been integrated.

Diagram 1 Image of the Building project for career design through business-academia collaborations (provisional title)

Special lectures on independent and autonomous career design

As part of the concrete efforts in the Building project for career design through business-academia collaborations (provisional title), Waseda University and seven corporations (ANA Strategic Research Institute, NEC Learning, Uchida Yoko, Mitsubishi Research Institute, SoftBank, Axell, and Jinzai Lab) have collaborated to develop a curriculum oriented toward career design and held special lectures on independent and autonomous career design. About fifty undergraduate and graduate students from throughout the university participated in the lectures, which were held for the purpose of finding commonalities among different industries from the viewpoint of career design, and understanding the universal meaning of career design, in fifteen ninety-minute segments. All lectures included practical contents consisting of exercises and coursework, and the students who participated all stated that the lectures provided the opportunity to think deeply about what they can do for personal growth (photos).

Special lecture (exercises, coursework)

Special lecture (lecture)

Special lecture (presentation)

National policy and immediately practicing independent and autonomous career design

The terms, vocational skills and educational support for vocational skills, vocational education, and leading graduate school concepts are becoming common, and they are important keywords that represent our nation's educational policy. It goes without saying that the assembling of excellent teachers and students from home and abroad, and developing the most advanced form of graduate education in the world is a central theme in the leading graduate school concept, but the ultimate goal is to produce leaders who are active not only in academia, but also in every aspect and all levels of society, including corporations and international organizations. The true nature of support for vocational skills and vocational education lies in the realizing of the connectivity between university education and corporate needs. Collaboration between universities and corporations in Japan is said to be weak, however, compared to collaboration in western countries. The reality is that Japan has far fewer corporate members with doctorate degrees than foreign countries do, and there are far too many employees who quit their jobs within the first three years of employment. Both universities and corporations need to make changes in order to solve these problems. Although academism is the chief axis of universities, universities must find ways to maintain quality that fully meet the needs of corporations that will eventually hire the students, and corporations must introduce systems that actively evaluate students that are fostered by business-academia collaborations. That is why career design support for business-academia collaborations is an important issue.

University students and graduate students can acquire specialized knowledge and skills through thorough studies, research, and experience, imagine themselves in the future, and focus on what they must do in order to realize their goals, and so on, in order to acquire the ability for independent and autonomous career design. The future, here, can be the next ten years, the next five years, or an even more immediate time. The important thing is for one to always plan what needs to be done. This is the fundamental element of career design.

Finally, here are some important phrases that were introduced in the special lectures above. Referring to these phrases should be helpful in any situation.

  • Independence and autonomy can be found only when one grows and becomes aware of the ability to help others.
  • People improve and grow through other people.
  • Hospitality is the basis for communication.
  • It is important for one to have a strong will to contribute to society and become a professional, to independently have an insatiable intellectual curiosity, and to be autonomous in one's day-to-day actions.
  • It is not extrinsic sources of motivation such as punishment, rewards, and control that are vital, but rather intrinsic sources of motivation such as independence, mastery, and goals.
  • Working independently and autonomously is what leads to generating results and achieving personal growth.
  • It is vital to strive to improve while bearing in mind the differences of must (compelled to do), can (able to do), and will (wish to do) through objective self-analyses.
  • Taking responsibility rather than blaming others-this is what leads to significant growth.

Tatsunori Matsui
Professor, Faculty of Human Sciences, Waseda University

Appointed to current post in 2008 as Professor on the Faculty of Human Sciences at Waseda University after having completed the Doctoral Course in the Advanced Research Institute for Science and Engineering at Waseda University in 1994, serving as Assistant Professor in the School of Science and Engineering at Waseda University in 1993, serving at Tokyo Gakugei University, serving as Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Electro-Communications at the University of Electro-Communications, and serving as Assistant Professor in the School of Human Sciences at Waseda University. Interests include mathematical methods for educational assessment, coursework, and optimization methods for learning environments. Recent work involves the scientific treatment of deep knowledge (implicit knowledge, sensitivity) that humans possess, and its applications. PhD (Science). Awards include the Best Paper Award from The Japan Society for Educational Technology, and the Best Paper Award from The Japanese Society for Information and Systems in Education. Member of The Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers, The Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence, The Japanese Society for Information and Systems in Education (executive board member), The Japan Society of Kansei Engineering, the Japanese Cognitive Science Society, The Behaviormetric Society of Japan, The IEEE, and The ACM.

[Principle Achievements]
1) "An Adaptive Sequencing Method of the Learning Objects for the e-Learning Environment" [e-Learning Kankyou De No Gakushuu Object No Tekiouteki Keiretsuka Shuhou Ni Kansuru Kenkyuu], Journal of The Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers, D-I, Vol.86-D-I, No.5, pp.330-344, 2003.

2) "Development of Discussion Supporting System Based on the Value of Favorable Words Influence", Journal of The Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence, Vol.19, No.2, pp.95-104, 2004.

3) "Development of Know-How Information Sharing System in Care Planning Processes -Mapping New Care Plan into Two-Dimensional Document Space-", Knowledge-Based Intelligent Information and Engineering Systems, Springer, pp.977-984, 2006.

4) "Content-Oriented Approach to Knowledge Description of Aesthetic Experience" [Kontento Supeesu No Gainen Ni Motozuku Biteki Kankaku To Koroko No Kouzou No Rikai], Journal of The Japan Society of Kansei Engineering, Vol.8, No.3, pp.819-828, 2009.

5) "Know-How Information Sharing System for Care Planning Processes and Educational Effects" [Kea Puran Sakutei Katei Ni Okeru Know-How Jouhou Kyouyuu System To Sono Kyouikuteki Na Kouka], Journal of The Information Processing Society of Japan, Vol.51, No.11, pp.1234-1252, 2010.

6) "Experimental Investigation on the Effects of Explanation Activities on the Improvement of Creative Ideas" [Sanshutsu Kadai To Shite No Sakutoi Gakushuu Shien No Tame No Jikkenteki Kentou], Journal of The Information and Systems in Education, Vol. 27, No.4, pp.320-315, 2010.