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The 2-week internship in Japan has become a highlight in the journey of 6th intake students in the master’s program of Business Administration at Vietnam-Japan University. This November 2022, we spent a meaningful time at Yokohama National University, experiencing Japanese daily life, cultural aspects, and academic environment.

First impression of Japan

Japan has been always known for superb hospitality. Our first glance at Japan when arriving at Haneda airport is the volunteers. The airport was not crowded but where there were many volunteers, from the 20s to the elderly, giving clear instructions about immigration into Japan. Besides, during our trip, we are extremely impressed with Japan’s public transportation system: metro, bus, railway, monorail, etc., which helps commuters go from one place to another easily. The bus drivers are always polite and responsible. This time, we were able to truly experience what we have learned in the course Thoughts and Religion in Japan. Besides being a developed modern country, Japan still focuses on maintaining traditional practices and natural areas to ensure a fruitful life for the citizen.

Two weeks of living a Yokohama National University (YNU) student’s life

Yokohama National University is located on a hill not too far from the city center and covered with so many trees, which gradually turn yellow and red very beautifully in autumn. We have all we need for our studies: classrooms, media halls, self-study rooms, libraries, campsites, etc. Especially, the central library has been our regular spot during these 2 weeks. Besides a massive system of books on all disciplines, the library also has a computer room, a study corner for online learning, and a video reference corner, everything was surrounded by a very poetic scenery.

The aisle between bookshelves in YNU’s central library

Even though the internship trip was only for 2 weeks, we had the opportunity to attend YNU’s classes on-site. Since YNU is an international environment, we had the chance to study and work in groups with many friends from many different countries. In the Comparative Management course, teamwork with team members’ nationality diversity gave us the opportunity to approach different human resource management issues in each country in terms of culture, leadership style, recruitment process, etc. In the Business Modelling and Simulation course, we presented our strategies for the Bakery Game. Recapping lessons after each game made us understand the lecture better and standing in front of the class to present our failures or successes in the game gave us a great experience. This was a rare opportunity for us to face failures or successes, analyze our strategies, and set the stage for real progress in life. In Japanese class, there were many students from many countries around the world such as England, Germany, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. Although Japanese is a difficult language, we tried our best to learn and speak in Japanese no matter if we make mistakes or not. In the Auditing course, we were taught in detail about international auditing standards. Despite the differences in everyone’s background, we learned not only from the theories in the book but also from the practical experience of the professor and classmates.

In addition, we also had the opportunity to present the practice of Vietnamese companies operating globally, business trends in Vietnam, or foreign companies operating in Vietnam in the Global Management in Asia course. Although the class only had 1 session, we had the chance to introduce successful case studies of Vietnam to international friends such as FPT, and Viettel, and introduce business trends in Vietnam such as the logistics, and the cosmetics industry. Through our presentations, although it was short, our international classmates have shown their interest and asked for more information about Vietnam.

VJU-MBA06’s presentation at Global Management in Asia class

Last but not least, the most special thing was we could participate in seminars with advisors. Meeting face-to-face and discussing the thesis topic made us better understand the process as well as the requirements needed for an academic thesis. Listening to the suggestions of professors and senpais for our topic also made us step-by-step determine the direction to confidently complete our thesis.

Field trips: observing a Japanese way of management

Apart from onsite classes, we also had opportunities to go on two special field trips: Yokohama Port and Tsurumi Incineration Plant. Each field trip opens a doorway to our understanding of Yokohama’s economic and life activities.

So far, we have had certain courses related to Logistics, Operations, and Supply Chain but this is the first time we all got to see such a stunning view of port operations from the rooftop of the International Cargo Centre, and were shared so much useful information about Yokohama port in comparison to other ports in the world. It was very interesting to learn that by observing the position of the giant container stacking cranes, we could know whether the port was having much work or not (standing means “no work”, lying down-sleeping, on the contrary, means “work”).

In front of Symbol Tower during the field trip to Yokohama Port

Our second field trip to Tsurumi Incineration Plant at first seemed not to be related to our major but in fact, it taught us very much about business ethics and social responsibility. Looking at the mountain of waste and garbage being processed inside the plant, we felt the urge of reducing, reusing, and recycling waste to protect our living environment. It was also very interesting to learn that waste could be turned into electricity. Unfortunately, up to now, Vietnam has not officially implemented waste separation at source nationwide and has had no similar plants. Hopefully, in the near future, Vietnam can learn from Japan’s waste treatment experience so that waste can be treated properly and become a resource in the circular economy model.

Everything could not happen without the people

Right from our first moment in Japan, we were warmly welcomed by the IPO staff, the professors, and the supporting students. With their guidance, it was easy for us to catch up with the student life at YNU. The students here are very hard-working, there are many of them studying in the library until late evening and they are very concentrated on their work, as meticulous as they can be. The people we met inside and outside of the campus are generally polite, kind, and metropolitan. They adhere to the rules and regulations. They walked a lot and most of them commute by public means of transportation. The people and the entire system have the utmost respect for being punctual. Looking at them, we know that there are still so many we could learn more.

A precious opportunity

During this internship, we have gained a lot of experience as well as the ability to learn and grow in many new ways. First, we enjoyed our on-site class and the facility of YNU. On-site classes at YNU had given us a great chance of meeting our professors in person after a long year of online classes via Zoom. It was a great opportunity that we can discuss, see and feel each other expressions for better communication and also easier for the course to be learned. In addition, at the on-site class, we can discuss with our fellow classmates, which from other countries and backgrounds, so we had the opportunity to do a cultural exchange, be more open-minded, and understand more about nationality diversity. Also, the facility of YNU was efficient and modern, especially the university’s library that we feel a little bit sad about not having more time to use for studying. Second, we had a chance to visit Japan and experience its culture, environment, scenic spots, and Japanese daily activities. Although some members of VJU-MBA intake 6th have visited Japan several times, for every one of us, this 2-weeks internship program in YNU was an unforgettable experience. Third, we had a chance to observe and learn how the Japanese do business. For two short weeks in Japan, it is undoubtedly that Japan has the best of the best service. Now, with our own eyes, we can see and feel the dedication of the Japanese in every detail, the way they provide a product with top-notch quality and make customers feel satisfied with their best of the best service. This is one of the key takeaways for MBA students like us to learn and apply in our practical business in the future, which is vital for sustainable business development.

Walking to the Faculty of Business Administration

MBA internship in the future

In the current context, organizing an internship program between the two universities has been a relatively difficult process. However, VJU’s Master of Business Administration program exceeded the expectations of the 6th intake students. Over the span of 14 days, we not only had the opportunity to study and experience the real studying environment at Yokohama National University but also gained practical experiences at Yokohama Port and Incineration Plant in Yokohama.

One thing that both the program and the students look forward to in this internship is that the internship period can be extended longer. It will create more opportunities for students to have more experience in the real working environment at Japanese companies, since MBAs need to excel at both theory and practice, simultaneously at the same time.

Overall, the two weeks internship in Japan was a precious experience for all students of MBA06. We expect that the program will keep providing these opportunities for the 7th MBA intake and the following.