Profile: Omkar Akolkar

Participant Profile

Omkar Akolkar

  • Pune University
  • Business Management/International Studies
  • N1-Level Japanese
  • Full-Time Hire – Business Management

What made you interested in Japan?

Well, there are too many reasons. At first, when I was a high school student, there was a period during which I was mad about playing video games. One day the game controller broke, and I just threw it at the wall out of frustration! That broke open the controller, and inside the controller I found a microchip. I couldn’t read what was written on the chip except for the last line which said, “Made in Japan.” So that’s how I came to know the name of Japan.

Seeing the language, it seemed like it’s very difficult. I really like to challenge myself to do difficult things. So I felt the Japanese language would be very difficult, and I just started learning.

I really like to challenge myself to do difficult things.

Do you have any hobbies that you've been able to continue here in Japan?

I’m a huge sports fan. I love sports. It will be a great chance for me to be here in Japan, because we are going to have the olympic games next year [2020]. Yeah, so it may be a big chance for me to apply my interest into my passion, and my passion to my profession. It’s very cool.

What did you do at your internship?

I was not exactly sure what was going to be my work immediately after I came here, but after, let’s say three or four days, my company made a plan and even drafted some of my work contents, leaving that for me on my desk. For example, we have many customers or overseas customers with whom I had to communicate by email. I also helped with overseas business development, and along with that some sales and marketing support. In addition to that all, I also helped with part of management.

It helped me a lot to grow my management skills. And also, I had some translation and interpretation work as well here and there. There was a lot of different kinds of work, but it was very interesting for me! Yeah, and it gave me very nice work experience.

I think I cannot call my coworkers my friends. But, I can call them my best friends.

Do you use English or Japanese in the workplace? Or a mix of both?

When I and Japanese coworkers are working together, or in the cafeteria or at our desks, I’m used to speaking Japanese with them. But the funny thing to me, on the other hand, is that my Japanese coworkers, whenever I go to, let’s say, the restroom or something, they come to me and they try to speak in English! So it’s kind of like, in the workplace it’s all Japanese, and outside it’s English.

What is socializing with your coworkers like?

Yeah, we’ve had shokujikai [dinner gatherings with coworkers] and dinner or lunch with together. And whenever we have some extra work, we plan to have lunch together after it’s all done.  I think I cannot cannot call my coworkers my friends. But, I can call them my best friends. We have like minds, and a great relationship. If there is anything which I don’t know about my work, I can just ask my colleagues for help! They were really helpful explaining the software to me in a really kind way. Once the work is done we would meet up, and I was able to express my gratitude and bond with them so we can work hard together the next day. I think a basic friend cannot do that, only a best friend can do that.

What has been difficult about living in Japan, and how have you overcome that?

Like, you know how in Japanese culture, the way of saying no is indirect? It’s very difficult to understand. This is the only part which was hard, but I think it’s very interesting just because… suppose if I invite any one of my colleagues or Japanese friends to go out for lunch or for dinner. Sometimes they can’t come, it’s okay for me. It’s okay, like, even if they say, “No, I have extra work today, I can’t make it. I’m so sorry, but next time we’ll go!” But usually they aren’t so clear, so I’ve had to learn to understand what they want to say.

What's something about this internship experience that you're proud of?

Well, the interesting part was there are too many Japanese companies and too many Japanese corporations that never hire– you know, I cannot say never… But it’s very difficult to find a job in Japan for foreigners. But through SJIP, I was able to have a Skype interview. My company decided to give me an internship opportunity, and after that hire me. It was a proud moment for me. There are so many foreigners who want to work in Japan, but they can’t make it on their own. Maybe it’s a drawback of Japanese work culture, or cultural differences–this is my personal opinion, but there should not be any barrier.

I also have a lot of potential to grow with the company.

Why did you decide to accept a full-time position with the company?

Yeah. There are basically three reasons. The first one is, Just just like company, during the internship they could verify my skills and learn about my personality in the same way. But at the same time, I can also check the company’s atmosphere and the company’s potential. I joined so the company and I could see if there’s potential for me to work there [full-time].

The second thing was, this company is so nice, and a very beautiful platform where I can use what I studied in college; I can use that knowledge. I can make some improvements or progress building the company’s business. I also have a lot of potential to grow with the company.

The third reason is… Well, it’s difficult to say, but, I just love Japan!

Any advice for future interns?

I have too many answers, but the first one, once you register with SJIP, then just don’t worry. Just let them do everything! There’s no need to worry about anything because SJIP is there to support you in so many different ways. The other thing is, in any internship there might be some difficulties. Maybe because of Japanese work culture, or because Japanese people can be very shy and they don’t express their feelings. Just don’t think about that, and whatever questions you have, just ask them without hesitating or without having any doubts. And, just try to love whatever you’re doing!

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