Published: Sept. 4, 2018 By

Rachel Lie, a rising sophomore in the Business Management and Entrepreneurship program at the Leeds School of Business, spent the summer working for Chiyoda Rubber Company through the Center’s Asia Internship Program - Japan. We share here some of Rachel’s thoughts about her experience from the first week to reflecting on the program after her return to Colorado. For information about the summer 2019 program, click here. Details will be available in November.

In my first week of being in Japan, I was invited to join Chiyoda Rubber Company on their annual company trip. Because of this experience, I got a glimpse into the immersion of Japanese culture that I knew I’d experience for the next six weeks. In Japan, company trips are an opportunity to sightsee with your coworkers. We visited an ancient shrine, walked across a bridge that is 1,300 feet in the air, and rode gondolas to see Mt Fuji. Typically, American trips are not as involved and may only contain one stop to sightsee. I was also very surprised upon arriving at the hotel. While in America we expect hotels to provide small things like towels and shampoo, Japan goes one step further. Their philosophy is that the travel can bring as little as possible and have everything that need. The hotel we stayed at provided toothbrushes, razors, tea cups and tea pot, and so much more. After some research I learned that many hotels also provide items such as pajamas to ensure the traveler carries as little as possible. It is also a cultural norm on trips to participate in karaoke. After dinner, the group will go and do karaoke as an after party. Hotels have rooms for individual parties to do karaoke. The karaoke machines have both English and Japanese songs, making it easy for everyone to enjoy. After karaoke, the group will have an after-after party in someone’s room to drink and chat. Drinking is very customary in Japan. It’s typical to have a beer with the meal and a nice glass of wine or champagne afterwards. However, it is never enough alcohol to get someone drunk, the Japanese understand moderation.  
At my first week with Chiyoda Rubber, I have had many new opportunities. For my first day, I met the employees, toured the building, and discussed what I would do with the company. My supervisor is very flexible with when I come in and leave for the day, because my work load will be very independent. This is very helpful for me, as I can avoid rush hour on the trains I take to work. I did spend part of the first day without work because we had not prepared work for me ahead of time. I spent the rest of the week translating the company’s history and timelines into English. This gave me the opportunity to learn more about the company, along with practicing my Japanese. 
This past week has been all and more then I can ask for. I didn’t expect to go sightseeing at so many beautiful places just two days after I arrived in Japan. This trip gave me an excellent opportunity to meet my coworkers in an informal situation. The Japanese have a casual personality and a professional personality. Joining the company was much simpler when I got to meet everyone’s casual personality before their professional. I got to know the person before I did the worker. I’m also learning more about the culture then I ever did while talking classes. Getting to see the differences is amazing to me. Even with the language barrier (I speak a little Japanese and many employees speak only very little English), we have managed to come together and communicate with each other. There’s a mutual respect for one another despite our different backgrounds. Somehow, I am even more excited for the next 6 weeks.

View the video she completed about her internship: