Life Lessons During a Summer in Tokyo

By Paul George Smith Jr., Guest Writer

This past summer I had an internship with GMO Research, a great company that is a part of the GMO Internet Group in Tokyo, Japan. In this case, GMO means “Global Media Online,” although many people mistakenly think that GMO is short for “Genetically Modified Organisms” (we work with internet infrastructure, cloud computing services and big data, not agriculture). 

Paul George Smith Jr., courtesy of the author.

We have offices throughout the world, with our headquarters in an enormous high-rise office building in the middle of one of the busiest areas of Tokyo, Shibuya. Shibuya is like the “Times Square” of Tokyo, and it is where the famous “Shibuya Crossing” is located (that pedestrian crosswalk you’ve seen in movies that has countless people swarming in all directions at the same time). What a place to live and work! It was exhilarating every day to be in such a populous, famous place. 

GMO Research is a publicly-traded company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in the MOTHERS Market (MOTHERS is short for “market of the high-growth and emerging stocks”). Each day at work, I could feel the buzz of corporate expansion, success and greatness. 

I worked in the Global Business department, which was headquartered in Tokyo and had branches worldwide in China, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Romania and the U.S., with more to be established in the near future. 

My internship assignments were comprehensive and included business strategy, business development, marketing, market research, data analysis, quality assurance, and much more. I completed 64 deliverables for our work with seven countries and markets; I provided two presentations to seven executives; I revised three global legal contracts; I taught yoga and mindfulness to 140 employees to improve professional productivity; and I led morning assemblies. 

Courtesy of Paul George Smith Jr.

In addition to my internship on weekdays, on weekends I was a part of the committee for the Thunderbird Global Alumni Reunion in Tokyo, scheduled for September 2019. We worked together to plan the events, create marketing material, invite attendees to participate, encourage sponsors to donate, and much more. Our Thunderbird committee members were so friendly and great to work with! 

To summarize my experiences, I learned so much from so many great people and made so many friends. We had great times, ate delicious food and had countless cultural experiences that I will remember forever. 

I improved myself personally and professionally in so many ways. These are a couple takeaways: 

  • Personal improvement takeaway: “assimilate the awesome”. There are so many awesome aspects of every culture in every region of the world; I learned more about how to assimilate these wonderful things into my life. Some examples of these aspects I’ve assimilated from Japan include the efficiency of everything they do, their stalwart dedication to their work, their loyalty, and their extremely fresh and delicious foods.
  • Professional improvement takeaway: “integration with integrity”. I improved my ability to integrate myself into a company with its own unique cultures, systems and employees, and doing so with a commitment to qualities such as kindness, honesty, humility and productivity. 
Courtesy of Paul George Smith Jr.

This company and all of the people were wonderful! For anyone who is interested in pursuing an internship with this company, start your job application and visa application processes early, keep an open mind, dedicate yourself wholly and give it all your best. You will learn so much, improve yourself in so many ways, personally and professionally, meet many great people and have a great time.

Paul is a second-year student in the MAGAM program.

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