We were joined last year by university students Ami and Felix as part of the Hokkaido Government Shiribeshi Region Working Holiday Program. See our blog post about their experience here. Thanks to the success of the program last year, the regional vitalisation project was offered to students across Japan once more.
The program is intended for students majoring in Tourism or English courses, and allows candidates the unique opportunity to work in an international environment as well as raise their interests in global education. MnK Niseko was one of approximately 20 Niseko companies that participated in the program. This year’s program commenced at the start of February, and concludes 6 March, running for a total of six weeks.
After working with our two stellar interns, Sae and Lexi, for the past month and a bit, we decided to sit down with them both and discuss their experience so far.
Hi Sae and Lexi! It’s been so nice having you both work with us at MnK. Why don’t we begin with you both introducing yourself. Tell us where you’re from, what you’re currently studying at university, and maybe why it is that you both applied for this internship.
Sae: I’m from Kanagawa prefecture, which is just south of Tokyo and this was my first time visiting Hokkaido. At my university, I’m studying various subjects such as Sociology, Business, and International Relations. I heard that MnK offers friendly and flexible service, so I applied for this internship to learn professional service and interact with many customers from overseas. Also, I’ve been studying English very hard, so I wanted to experience working in a foreign-owned company.
Lexi: Hi! I’m from China, and I have been studying in Sapporo as an exchange student for the past year. I major in Japanese back in China, and I have been studying Business Management here in Japan. When I first came to Japan, I felt everything was so different to where I am from, very unique. I also felt that Japan has been making an effort to keep up with globalisation, so I really wanted to see how the Japanese way of working and Western way of working would differ. MnK seemed to be perfect for what I wanted to learn since it has an international working environment.
What have you enjoyed the most about your internship so far?
Sae: I have enjoyed working in a nice, friendly atmosphere. It has been my first internship, and I was full of worries, but all the team are so kind and I have learnt a lot of things. Since the team is made up of people from many different countries and cultures, it has been a really good experience to understand and experience other cultures, as well as different ways of thinking.
Lexi: What I have enjoyed the most is seeing the different way of working here, and seeing how a workplace can be both a cheerful and relaxed environment. Here at MnK, it’s easy to receive help from other members of the team and it’s never boring working here because there is always laughter in the office.
What has been the most challenging part of your internship?
Sae: Probably the language. Sometimes the different ways of expression in English and technical terms can be confusing, but all the team are so nice and they always explain what they mean to me. It has been a rewarding challenge.
Lexi: I think I did feel some challenges in the beginning when it was busy, as initially I wasn't sure of the best way to approach tasks. Everyone speaks English and I was unsure if I understood directions correctly, so I had to confirm. But after a while, I got used to the everyday work here and got to understand my responsibilities so learnt the right time to do things and in the right way.
What has been the most memorable experience of your time in Niseko?
Sae: The most memorable experience has been skiing. I recently skied in Hanazono and Hirafu, and it was really fun! I hadn't previously heard of Niseko, but the snow conditions here are so good, and now I understand the reason why so many people from abroad come to Niseko to ski.
Lexi: For me it was also the day I went skiing! It was my very first day of skiing, and the lifts took me very high upon the mountain from Hanazono. I couldn’t ski down and so I sat down in the snow until the snow groomers found me and called the patrol to help me. I felt like I was in a movie!
Has working for MnK been different to past jobs or internships, and if so how?
Sae: I think that MnK cherishes the connection with others, so the company has a closer relationship to its customers and offers a friendly service.
Lexi: I was working at a restaurant in Sapporo, and I think working for MnK is very different because people don’t get so serious and nervous here. People seem really close to each other and the distance between bosses and employees is also closer. Everyone appears to not only be colleagues, but also friends.
What do you have planned once you finish your internship?
Sae: I am still a freshman, and I haven’t decided what to do in the future, but through the working experience in MnK, I have developed an interest in tourism. So, I’m planning to take some tourism classes at my university and deepen my understanding in the field.
Lexi: I’m going back to China for a few months to finish my university degree, and after this I will return to Japan to study for 2 more years. Hopefully after this I will find a job in Japan, and maybe work in English-speaking countries a few years down the track.
From all of the team at MnK Niseko, we'd like to thank you Sae and Lexi for all of your hard work during this internship. We have enjoyed your bright and bubbly presence in the office, big smiles and unique sense of humour. Wishing you both all the best in your future endeavours, and we hope you come back to visit us all soon!