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    Japan Engineer District begins pilot Japanese intern program

    Japan Engineer District begins pilot Japanese intern program

    Photo By Patrick Ciccarone | Yuzen Kurokawa, Rina Koyama, and Ryohei Kojima, pose for a photo at the U.S. Army...... read more read more



    Story by Patrick Ciccarone 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Japan District

    CAMP ZAMA, Japan – For the last several weeks, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Japan Engineer District (USACE JED) has been a bit more scholarly than usual – perhaps in part due to the District’s participation in the annual U.S. Army Garrison Japan (USAGJ) summer internship program.

    The four-week-long experience, which launched in 2013 and is now celebrating its 10th year, introduces Japanese college students to Soldiers, American civilians, and Japanese personnel, living and working on a U.S. military installation. Additionally, it provides them the unique opportunity to gain experience in an American work center, and further insight into the cornerstone that is the United States’ relationship with Japan.

    “This a super important program for the Alliance, as our Japanese workers are essential to the successful operation of United States Forces Japan (USFJ) organizations like JED,” said USACE JED Commander, Col. Gary Bonham. “Without our great Japanese teammates, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish our mission - this program enables us to reach out to the next generation of up-and-coming Japanese professionals and show them the opportunities that a career with JED offers.”

    Program guidelines for the internship experience have students engaging in job shadowing, English conversation opportunities, presentations practicing public speaking, designing S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals, and even a ‘capstone’ event, where they will discuss with their work centers the knowledge they acquired and why the relationship between the U.S. and Japan is integral.

    JED’s Public Affairs Officer, Charlie Maib, saw the potential the program could provide for both nations by building support and facilitating deeper community relations and sought to bring the District into the fold. Taking the role of JED’s point of contact for the interns, Maib reached out to interested parties and ensured the District would have a place for the Japanese students to learn and grow.

    “Because our workforce within JED is highly specialized, with many of our employees being Japanese nationals, USAGJ’s program made the most sense to take advantage of and integrate with,” Maib explained. “Introducing college-age Japanese youth to JED provides us a potential direct route to recruiting technically specialized graduates who can continue to power USACE’s mission in Japan from the tail end of their formal education process and beyond.”

    This inaugural participation in the program is only the first step in JED’s foray into hosting college-age interns – while this year the District is working together with USAGJ, the hope is to continue the program by itself, with a full roster of interns roaming the USACE JED headquarters next year, and eventually all JED locations throughout Japan.

    During this iteration of the internship program though, 3 individuals were selected to spend their four weeks at JED – all with different educational backgrounds, including a business major, a marketing major, and a mechanical engineering graduate student.

    For Yuzen Kurokawa, a marketing major attending Nihon University in Tokyo’s Suidobashi district, it was the first time he’d worked together with American civilians on a military installation. Kurokawa, originally an Ibaraki prefecture native, found out about the program through a social media influencer advertising an opportunity to work with Americans.

    “I thought it was a really interesting chance to work and speak with Americans,” Kurokawa mentioned. “When you’re on a military installation, it feels like [maybe] you’re in America – it’s a good opportunity to see how Americans work together.”

    Kurokawa was assigned to work in JED’s Programs and Project Management Division (PPMD), where he got a firsthand opportunity to see how long-term projects are managed from “cradle to grave” in the District.

    “I got to learn about how projects are laid out, from beginning to end, sometimes lasting longer than a year, and it was amazing to see how many details are included,” Yuzen explained. “Compared to Japanese work culture, [American work centers] seem to be more relaxed whilst being more efficient.”

    This brief venture inside American work culture highlights the difference between the East and West business mentality while providing a positive learning environment to foster education and allowing the visiting interns to also imprint their knowledge and experiences on JED.

    Rina Koyama, a business major attending Showa Women’s University in the Sangenjaya district of Tokyo, found the expression of individuality through work center decorations to be interesting, and how much space each employee had to work - a stark difference compared to a typical Japanese office and work culture.

    “For many of the employees at JED, their desks are so wide, and feel like their own private rooms,” Koyama said. “Unlike Japanese offices, I got the feeling that employees here could communicate more easily with each other.”

    But the intern's experience at JED hasn’t been only business – working with Americans also gave the young Japanese students a chance to exchange cultures and ideas on a personal level, strengthening the ever-present bonds held between the U.S. and Japan.

    “Some of my most favorite moments while I’ve been at JED have been getting to sit down and share lunch with some of the American employees,” mentioned Koyama. “I was happy to be able to help and work in an environment as positive as this was.”

    With plenty of business acumen gained and smiles shared, this year’s iteration of USAGJ’s summer internship program appears to bode well for JED’s planned future expansion of the program.

    “I hope this program continues to grow in the future, we want to do more outreach to prospective Japanese who would be a good fit to work with the JED team and I think this one good way to do it,” said Bonham. “We want to encourage the best and brightest of the upcoming Japanese workforce to consider working with JED, this exposure will help ensure that we can continue to enjoy having a top-notch workforce going forward.”



    Date Taken: 08.28.2023
    Date Posted: 08.28.2023 03:13
    Story ID: 452252
    Location: ZAMA, KANAGAWA, JP

    Web Views: 49
    Downloads: 0