Jennifer

Ko

  • University
    Ryerson University
  • Major
    Fashion Communications
  • Japanese Skill Level
    No Japanese
  • Position
    UI / UX Designer

How did you become interested in Japan?

My dad always worked overseas, so I always had an interest in working abroad and seeing what a different culture would be like. And I feel that since I'm young, it's kind of the time to do it. And yeah, I just really wanted to not be stuck in my own country. I knew that I always wanted to live abroad for a certain amount of time and figure out if I actually want to live somewhere else and experience the culture. For specifically Japan, I actually visited for two short trips in Tokyo, and I thought, "Oh everyone is so nice and hard working." And for the industry that I'm going into, tech and stuff seems very forward, and I thought it could be a really great opportunity to go into.

How has your internship been overall?

It's been really fun! So, my supervisor, and actually almost my whole team, did the program with Sakae as well. So, it's been really good to have people that I can relate to and also talk to, and we have a lot of similarities in terms of culture as well. So it's like I don't ever really feel that I'm alone in the company, and my supervisor's been really nice in terms of helping me settle in. He's made sure to tell me if I have any concerns, even, like, outside of work, I can always reach out to him. It's been really welcoming and a really good experience.

What can you tell me about your roles and responsibilities during your internship?

So I guess my official title was sort of like a UX or UI designer. At first I was like the only designer in the entire company, so kind of like everything got thrown to me. I did manuals, like designing manuals, as well, and also because there are certain procedures that don't allow [interns] to actually touch developing programs because of confidentiality, I got to design new things. Because it's new, it's all right for us to touch. So I got to redesign a whole new application and website, so that was a huge learning experience for me, because at my old company they would never give that huge of a project to one person. But since I'm the only design team, it was a really cool opportunity. And yeah, there was just a lot of back and forth and I got to share a lot of my ideas and grow from that.

Do you ever use Japanese on the job?

I've been learning a lot, and people are always happy when I try to learn, and yeah, I've made a couple friends as well, and they like to both practice their English, and I can practice my Japanese as well! Since, well, their English is a little better than my Japanese, sometimes they also talk to me in English, and then I can always ask them, "How do you say that in Japanese?" And I could learn through that sense, but usually like for more serious work situations, everything is done in English, especially just for our team for clear communication.

Can you share a little bit about your daily life here?

So I guess throughout the weekdays, if it's like a busy work week or work month... Usually, it's quite busy, and then you don't have too much time after work. But all the weekends are always really nice to kind of relax from the stress from the week. But I think Japan just has so many holidays, as I've experienced, like, it almost feels like every couple of weeks. There's a chance to get away and relax a little bit, and also everyone's really nice, and work doesn't actually feel too dreading to go to. So yeah, so it's always really nice, and then lunch... It's always a good time to have lunch with people. Every day going to work and going back home, I guess I made it a regular routine to just like pick up dinner from the conbini [convenience store] or something like that. But yeah, I think it's a pretty good balance.

What has been challenge about living in Japan?

Initially when it was just me and my one friend from Canada, it sometimes can get a little bit lonely because all your friends and family aren't with you. So I think it would really benefit if you're not the type of person who really relies on having your social circle around all the time, and if you're okay with being alone and just exploring by yourself... I think that would be one of the most challenging things, and then maybe another one is just overcoming the language barrier, or being not afraid to actually kind of use it. Yeah, being more comfortable in another country might take some time.

It's been a huge milestone.

Can you share something from the internship that you're especially proud of?

Oh, yeah, for sure, definitely designing that application! It's been through a couple of iterations and reviews and stuff like that. In the end, I think I was able to come up with something that I was pretty happy with, and maybe a year from now I'll look back and be like, "Oh, so many things can be improved," but I think for now it's such a great stepping stone, and I hope I can continue to learn and build on everything.

How else has the internship benefitted you?

It's given me the opportunity to come here. I wouldn't even have been able to go to another country to work and experience personal growth and career growth. It's been a huge milestone. It's definitely made it possible with the [housing and airfare] and everything, or else like it'd be really hard to save enough money to just not work for like a certain amount of time, and then I think it's also great how the program really sets you up for a future employment opportunity, because I wouldn't even know what to do after this. I would go back and maybe have to try to find another job or something like that. I think in that case if you want to live abroad it makes that transition just a lot easier.

In terms of your career path, what do you envision for yourself over the next few years?

Yeah, I'll continue working for this company, and then I'll just see where things go! If I actually really love it here, then maybe I'll want to stay longer. I think that's still kind of up in the air since I've only been here for like two months, but yeah. I really want to learn more programming, and my supervisor told me that he wants to teach me a lot more, and he basically wants my position to grow more into design plus programming. I think I'm really excited for that. So that would be really cool, because I don't think there is a job that kind of has this growth opportunity in Toronto. You're kind of stuck, if you're a designer, then you should only be doing design tasks, but here I get to do a bit of everything.

Do you have any advice for future interns?

Yeah, I would say be open-minded, and just come into the country without feeling too afraid to go out, even if you don't know the language, I think you're only going to learn by trying to speak it and listen to people.

Hear from other JCP & SJIP participants:

Jesse
The ability to have [SJIP] connect [companies] to us and vouch for our character and tell the company what we can offer them...was probably the absolute most valuable thing.
Full Interview
Tadao
My company seemed like a really good base of a company. Since a lot of companies are really investing in AI and IoT, I feel like it's going to be really beneficial that I have this experience.
Full Interview
Amanda
I had already studied in Japan before, but I was still able to experience new things. My work gave me a ticket to see a kabuki play, which I never thought I'd be able to see, and I was really moved by the performance.
Full Interview
Shrestha
My coworkers are very friendly, and our office environment is very co-operative. Everyone works very hard and focuses on what they can learn.
Full Interview
See More

Want to get started?

Sign up to learn more about what opportunities may be available to you.
Sign Up now