Sending Japanese students abroad as interns has become very popular in the past year or so, according to Nikkei Business. The Uniqlo brand owner Fast Retailing sends around 73 students a year to Singapore, London and Melbourne. Sompo Japan Nipponkoa despatched 10 interns to Singapore earlier this year and Softbank has sent 5 interns to work for its Sprint subsidiary in Kansas.
It is seen as one solution to the shortage of graduates who have overseas experience or the interest in working abroad. Most “global minded” graduates head for prestigious and well paid trading company jobs. Returns on the hefty investment in such internships are not guaranteed however. Whether enough interns actually then join the companies who sponsored them, or whether a short internship is any substitute for prolonged periods of study abroad is not yet clear. My view is that Japanese companies should invest similarly in internships for non-Japanese recruits or at least offer short secondments to Japan as part of their graduate induction programmes, if they are really serious about making their Japan HQs more globally minded.
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