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Japan Association of Overseas Studies (JAOS) Global ACE-Helping to Put to Good Use Overseas Experiences When Job Hunting!

JAOS Executive Director Mr. Ryuki Hayashi (L) and Global ACE Career Consultant Mr. Yukio Motohashi (R)

JAOS Executive Director Mr. Ryuki Hayashi (L)
and Global ACE Career Consultant Mr. Yukio Motohashi (R)

This month's Close Up introduces a general incorporated association, the Japan Association of Overseas Studies (JAOS). Aiming for study-abroad environments that offer peace-of-mind, JAOS was created by the coming together of a wide variety of study-abroad service providers. Against the backcloth of heightened needs regarding the development of global human resources, JAOS broadly promotes studying abroad as a means by which to respond to such demand. In Financial Year 2013, the organization was commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) to implement the "Global ACE" project (the "Global Action for Careers and Employability Project"). JAOS also commenced support of young people wishing to put their overseas experiences to good use when job hunting in Japan. On this occasion, we spoke to Mr. Ryuki Hayashi, JAOS Executive Director; and Mr. Yukio Motohashi, a Global ACE Career Consultant. The topic of discussion was the mastering of overseas experiences and the means by which such experiences could be put to good use.

Q.What sort of organization is JAOS?

Teaching texts for JAOS certified study-abroad counselors.  Through the JAOS counselor development program, students obtain wide-ranging knowledge regarding study-abroad counseling techniques, processing know-how, practices and regulations, as well as crisis-management issues, etc.

Teaching texts for JAOS certified study-abroad counselors. Through the JAOS counselor development program, students obtain wide-ranging knowledge regarding study-abroad counseling techniques, processing know-how, practices and regulations, as well as crisis-management issues, etc.

A.Mr. Hayashi: JAOS was established some 22 years ago in 1992. To improve the overall study-abroad industry and make it even better, JAOS was created by bringing together a wide variety of service providers. Our activities rest on four pillars. Firstly, we have enacted guidelines that seek to achieve study-abroad experiences offering both peace-of-mind and safety. JAOS members have to follow these guidelines. Secondly, there is the need to develop professional counselors who can offer suitable advice. JAOS operates both a study-abroad counselor development program and a certifications system to address this issue. Already, more than 300 people have passed the JAOS certification test. Thirdly, there is the cooperation that JAOS enjoys with embassies of various countries here in Japan. So as to disseminate study-abroad information both accurately and on time, JAOS works closely with the education offices of these embassies. The fourth pillar of JAOS activities is using our acquired know-how when sending study-abroad aspirants overseas. With respect to this fourth pillar, among the range of representations made by JAOS to national government concerning utilization of the organization's study-abroad support know how, the Global ACE project is but one example.

Q.What sort of project is Global ACE?

A.Mr. Hayashi: "Global ACE" is a project commissioned by the MHLW. Concerning young people possessing overseas experience via internships, working holidays, language study, etc., Global ACE supports career shaping so that such experiences are put to good use in employment realization. We offer free consulting before, during and after candidates travel overseas, as well as free employment training, etc. The program targets the unemployed up to 35 years old while excluding students. The logic of this is that students are able to both study abroad and receive employment counselling upon returning to Japan via career centers within universities. However, consultation opportunities for people other than students are very rare. Thus, Global ACE came into being due to a desire to offer advice to such people who want to put their overseas experience to good use in the shaping of careers.


At Global ACE, comprehensive support of career shaping is offered in that seminars and employment training are conducted both before and after participants travel overseas. ©JAOS   At Global ACE, comprehensive support of career shaping is offered in that seminars and employment training are conducted both before and after participants travel overseas. ©JAOS
At Global ACE, comprehensive support of career shaping is offered in that seminars and employment training are conducted both before and after participants travel overseas. ©JAOS

Q.Concerning Global ACE career consulting, on what issues is emphasis placed?

A.Mr. Motohashi: According to a survey of persons with overseas experience conducted by the MHLW, on the question of what had been gained by their overseas exposure, rather than language ability, more people cited developing an international outlook, an ability to respond suitably to different cultures, a sense of initiative, broadened horizons, and communication skills etc. Even after returning to Japan, however, a fair number of people remain ignorant of having developed such skills. In terms of individuals not appreciating that they have developed such skills, it means that appeals based on such skills cannot be leveraged when job hunting. In light of this, it is necessary that a career consultant draw out such areas of personal growth from potential job candidates. By putting into words the sentiment; "You have grown as an individual by developing such skills," it then becomes possible to gain the validation of others. If this occurs, even among people who feel let down in that they couldn't develop the language skills they first imagined were possible through overseas exposure, there is nevertheless an acceptance that "going overseas was a positive experience." Indeed, among the people I see in my job as a consultant, some end up in tears upon achieving such self-realization.


*Please see the results of the "Global Human Resource Needs" and "Mastering of Overseas Experiences" surveys that are listed on the Global ACE website:
http://www.global-ace.jp/career/ (in Japanese only)

Q.There is a common perception that going overseas equates to a mastering of languages.

A.Mr. Hayashi: Of course, a major aim in going overseas is the learning of languages. However, going overseas and acting alone also offers a great opportunity to develop an independence of mind as well as problem-solving skills. Furthermore, when present within other cultures, people often experience being treated as "'Japanese" for the first time. This leads to people considering their identity in that they are asked about a lot of "Japanese" things they were previously unconscious of. An appreciation of a wide range of different cultures and the ability to communicate, etc., are necessary facets for global human resources. However, in terms of what I consider important, I feel it is OK for individuals to develop their language skills later on if they possess a solid idea of what they want to convey to others.

A.Mr. Motohashi: When going overseas, because it is the case that even young people have their own set opinions, there are many that undergo a sense of self-awakening in that they are confronted with things they had previously not considered. In terms of an individual's ability to disseminate the ideas that they carry, it is through such dissemination that they can contribute to their surroundings. If I can convey to people before they go overseas that I would like them to develop such an outlook, then the outcomes of their overseas experiences can vary greatly.

Q.Concerning pre-trip consultations, what other matters do you seek to convey?

Mr. Motohashi has been involved in the study-abroad business for 20 years.  He also has a wealth of experience in helping study-abroad students in job-hunting.  Shown hear at a Global ACE seminar.<br />
©JAOS

Mr. Motohashi has been involved in the study-abroad business for 20 years. He also has a wealth of experience in helping study-abroad students in job-hunting. Shown hear at a Global ACE seminar.
©JAOS

A.Mr. Motohashi: At Global ACE, we have candidates fill out both an objectives-setting sheet and a skills-development sheet before traveling overseas. This allows us to understand the motivations and the skills that candidates hope to develop. The completed sheets are then used during the consultations process. Concerning the sheets, they have sections set aside in which candidates can carry out self-evaluations, however, among these candidates who are willing to take a major step in traveling overseas, many seem to possess very self-effacing attitudes. When confronted with such candidates, while telling them that they "have the ability to make decisions in that they have decided to travel overseas," I try to draw out a sense of self-confidence.

Q.After returning to Japan, what sort of career consulting is offered with a view to employment?

Perhaps it is the case that others view an individual's strengths different.  At Global ACE career consulting sessions, help is given to discover the hidden strengths of people, and to improve their job-hunting skills. ©JAOS

Perhaps it is the case that others view an individual's strengths different. At Global ACE career consulting sessions, help is given to discover the hidden strengths of people, and to improve their job-hunting skills.
©JAOS

A.Mr. Motohashi: Many returnees to Japan express a desire to find a job where they can use English. My response is to advise them that it isn't necessary to find employment with global businesses that use foreign languages continuously. Rather, I feel it is good enough if they can find work with a company that might not have expanded overseas as yet. Rather, candidates might suggest to such businesses "what about expanding overseas"? By being in a position to make such suggestions themselves, there is the associated thrill for candidates of "developing their own job overseas." Furthermore, in that the Japanese population will decline in the future, I feel that more and more non-Japanese will start working in this country. Thus, in that people who have worked overseas have experienced working as "non-nationals" in different countries, in that they can identify with the position of non-Japanese people working in Japan, I discuss with them the possibility of being "human resources that bind together Japanese and non-Japanese people." Considering the opportunities available to people with overseas experience, without a doubt such opportunities shall increase in number in the future.

Q.It seems there are also people who worry as to whether or not their overseas experiences can be put to good use in job-hunting.

A.Mr. Motohashi: It is the case that more and more companies are looking for human resources that can communicate. What companies are looking for are candidates with an international outlook, adaptability, and the ability to act. Businesses want candidates who are able to develop by themselves. Rather than thinking in terms of whether or not something will be of value in job-hunting, I want candidates to be attractive people in that they can select courses of action resulting in their own self development.

Q.Please offer a message to those people who want to try an overseas internship or a working holiday but are perhaps a little hesitant.

Mr. Motohashi, "We are able to draw out the growth and the outcomes that candidates have gained overseas, and to offer total support to the self-confidence that candidates have in job hunting."

Mr. Motohashi, "We are able to draw out the growth and the outcomes that candidates have gained overseas, and to offer total support to the self-confidence that candidates have in job hunting."

A. Mr. Motohashi: To such people I would ask the question, "At the current time, do you feel you are competitive? On the other hand, do you feel you will be more competitive as a result of going overseas?" If candidates find themselves living in an environment surrounded by a different language, culture, lifestyle and customs, they will develop and grow as human beings whether or not they respond to such stimulus. If by living overseas candidates are able to solidly develop the basics of being societal members, career consultants like me can express such outcomes in words and help with the process of job-hunting.

In talking of his own overseas experiences, Mr. Hayashi said, "even though many years have passed since I returned to Japan, I still feel I am putting what I experienced overseas to good use."

In talking of his own overseas experiences, Mr. Hayashi said, "even though many years have passed since I returned to Japan, I still feel I am putting what I experienced overseas to good use."

A.Mr. Hayashi: On the issue of acquiring language skills and overcoming great difficulties, by just remaining in Japan it might be possible to master such skills to some extent. However, the only way to develop an international outlook is to actually travel overseas and experience things first-hand. Looking towards the future, even more than today we will enter an age in which it is necessary to have an understanding of other cultures. In light of this, I really want people to travel overseas and enjoy a wide range of experiences.