Spending twelve months in Japan as a Junior Research Assistant for the Network Service Systems Laboratory at Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) gave Leon time to grow his list of technical work accomplishments, which consisted of projects that included integrating PCEP functionalities onto Ethereal (a software network protocol analyzer), configuring and evaluating Juniper M5 routers under optical GMPLS networks, and designing a software MPLS Traffic Engineering network simulator. Outside of achievements in the workplace, Leon has fond memories of the time he managed to gather more than sixteen other participants of The Canada-Japan Co-op Program and JETRO who were working across Japan, and coordinated an overnight climb to the top of Mt. Fuji.
Upon his return from Japan, Leon went on to complete his Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering at the University of Victoria, followed by a Master of Applied Science degree at the University of Toronto, and then graduated with a Master’s in Business Administration at the University of Washington. He now resides near Seattle, Washington and works for T-Mobile USA as a Product Engineer, developing new products for customers from ideation to launch. His time in The Canada-Japan Co-op Program remains a significant influence in his life and career as employers continue to bring up his experience in interviews, and he emphasizes how his participation in the program has helped him to appreciate and also learn to adapt quickly to different ethnic and corporate cultures.
In 2008, Thomas Chung landed a position as a Software Engineering Intern in Japan enabled him to apply what he studied in the classroom to real software development projects, learning how software development works in a real world setting. One of his most significant accomplishments through The Canada-Japan Co-op Program includes completing and presenting his internship project to his team and delivering his daily standup status meetings in Japanese. Thomas’ adventures in Japan encompassed more than just work, as some of his most memorable experiences include climbing Mt. Fuji, snorkeling in Okinawa, and even the daily train commute from his apartment in central Tokyo to Sony headquarters. He came to better understand Japanese culture which in turn helped improve the way he works with people from different backgrounds, and built a network with many people in the community both within and outside the company, some of whom are still in touch with him and continue to provide him with insight into the industry in Japan. Now a Senior Software Engineer for Microsoft’s Office product Group, Thomas believes “the international work experience is invaluable because it shows potential employers that you are driven to go the distance to achieve what you desire.”
Through The Canada-Japan Co-op Program, Roger discovered the unique opportunity to leave his comfort zone and live overseas while garnering work experience as a student, and embarked for Japan in September 2007. He spent the next twelve months in Imbari city in Japan’s Ehime Prefecture as a Native English Teacher with Peppy Kids Club, iTTTi Japan. Along with teaching English to school children of a diverse age range, he also had the opportunity to independently develop and teach his own English language curriculum – one of his most significant co-op accomplishments.
Roger now works as a Workplace Campaign Manager for United Way of the Lower Mainland, and he explains that even though his current position no longer requires him to work with young students, his participation in The Canada-Japan Co-op Program taught him the foundations of communication: “Without a shared language, I learned how to engage my audience through other means, such as eye contact, visual demonstrations, body language, and participatory activities.” A large part of Roger’s current role involves creating dialogue and rapport with workplace donors and volunteers, and he describes how the things he learned about interacting with others played a large part in helping him acquire the job, pointing out that “using creative ways to share [his] organization’s story in order to motivate and compel stakeholders is key to [his] job.” However, his time in Japan gained him much more than skills limited to the workplace, as he noted that living abroad in an unfamiliar country taught him how to “adapt quickly to different surroundings, solve problems on the fly, and be resilient in challenging circumstances,” and the experience became crucial for his personal and professional development.
Roxanne ventured on an exciting adventure through The Canada-Japan Co-op Program to Japan from January to August in 2018 to work with KPMG Ignition as a Research & Business Consulting Intern. Some of Roxanne’s major accomplishments include: creating the new Digital Solution and Innovation team, leading the automation tax process which has saved over 50 work hours for the team, verification for the department and developing a new data visualization product for the financial advisory services. Although it was hard for Roxanne to pinpoint a favourite memory, she noted that weekly suppers at the nearby izakaya and Takoyaki nights at her shared house were especially memorable.
Roxanne also shared how her experience with The Canada-Japan Co-op Program has shaped her into the individual that she is proud to be today. Not only did she develop new technical skills, but her co-op job taught her that her that her skillset is versatile which motivated her to apply a wide range of organizations and job positions, including her current role as a Transport Data Analyst at Lowe’s Canada.
For Kyle, The Canada-Japan Co-op Program was a springboard that helped propel him to where he is today. Having spent one year in Kyoto, Japan working for Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR), Kyle gained plenty of knowledge, skills and work experience. He helped develop a Graphical User Interface (GUI) for the teleoperation of multiple social robots, assisted with the research , and conducted experiments both in and out of the lab. However, the most memorable part of his time in Japan was the people he met. Through encounters with locals, others from Canada, and even those from other parts of the world, Kyle had found friends he has forged lifelong bonds with.
The connections he made while in Japan are helped him return to Japan again in 2017, five years after completing his undergraduate degree in Software Engineering at Concordia University. His experience living in Japan and the network he acquired meant he could get reference letters for graduate school in Japan from Japanese professionals. This became a huge asset as he applied for and received a scholarship offered by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). With the help of this scholarship, Kyle is now pursuing a PhD in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Nagoya in Nagoya, Japan under his current professor and supervisor who was one of his coworkers from his time at ATR. His participation in The Canada-Japan Co-op Program positively impacted his future, and as Kyle puts it, “it’s more than just a work term, it’s a great life experience.”
Elias gained a greater sense of clarity around his career direction thanks to The Canada-Japan Co-op Program. He was exposed to the wonders of Japan, ranging from the work culture, the people and the rich history. As an international Sales and Marketing Intern, he implemented his own ideas into content creation for the International Marketing department. He also tested and analyzed the effectiveness of the organization’s products and used various marketing techniques like marketing segmentation targeting and positioning to complete his tasks. After graduating in 2021, Elias continued to work with J. Morita MFG Corporation part-time and will soon move to a full-time position with them, continuing his career in Kyoto.
Mohamed describes his work experience at Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) as “a great beginning to a career in academia.” He left for Japan in September of 2010 after receiving a job offer from NTT to work at their Basic Research Laboratory. His work in characterizing semiconducting thin-films as a Research Intern allowed him to learn more about fundamental science while working on world class research, and he fondly recounts memories of sharing a lab with other highly motivated researchers and credits the countless discussions he had with them on superconductivity to be one of the reasons that led him to make them decision to pursue a PhD.
After completing his Bachelor of Applied Science at the University of Ottawa, Mohamed ended up pursuing his PhD on superconductivity in Japan. His PhD supervisor then acquainted him with the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute (SBQMI) at The University of British Columbia, where he is now a Postdoctoral Fellow. The experiences he had and the things he learned during his co-op work term in Japan led Mohamed to discover a passion that helped him decide on the path he wanted to take after completing his undergraduate degree.
With the help of The Canada-Japan Co-op Program, Ioana spent ten months in Japan as a 3D Animation Intern at Fukui Byora. Fukui Byora is a well-known manufacturing organization that creates many different metal parts. Some of the most significant achievements that she completed during her work term include: creating a fully rigged human character from scratch and utilizing particle systems to create various effects for each shot she took. Ultimately, Ioana was able to create a total of seven unique safety videos that were eventually distributed to factory workers.
Ioana’s solo visit to Hiroshima was a distinct highlight of her time in Japan as it increased her confidence in herself which had benefits throughout her work experience. She found herself communicating with her coworkers more and breaking out of her comfort zone. After graduating from Simon Fraser University, Ioana took on the impressive role of a Junior Animator at ICON Creative Studio, Ioana credits The Canada-Japan Co-op Program with guiding her to hone in on her area of focus and skillset which led Ioana to reach her current career goals.
In 2011, Alice spent 8 months in Osaka assisting with the development of a new healthcare application and analysis based on human physiology as a Research Intern at the Advanced Technologies Development Laboratory of Panasonic Electric Works. Some of her most significant contributions as a Canada-Japan Co-op student included conducting research on minimally invasive detection of blood glucose levels, and publishing her findings in the Journal of Biomedical Optics. She notes her experience conducting innovative experiments alongside top researchers at Panasonic to be one of the most memorable parts of her experience. Outside of work, she managed to arrange small trips across Japan with fellow Canada-Japan Co-op Program participants and built friendships with Panasonic employees from other departments who lived in the company dormitory with her.
After her graduation from The University of British Columbia, Alice returned to Japan to work as an Associate at Unison Capital, a private equity firm. Participating in The Canada-Japan Co-op Program gave her the chance to experience Japanese work culture and allowed her to “get her foot in the door” to a working life in Japan.
In 2019, Hana departed for Japan to work as an Accounting Intern for PHC Holdings Corporation. During her time there, Hana took on responsibilities such as: translating various accounting documents from Japanese to English; utilizing programs like Oracle’s PBCS to assess the growth of different segments and corresponding subsidiaries; and hosting interactive activities such as culture and language sessions to build meaningful connections with her colleagues. Her orientation tour at the start of her work term was a particular highlight as he had the chance the observe the assembly line, factory processes and interact with the factory workers. Hana described everyone as “friendly and welcoming” and willing to help her understand the organization and products in detail.
After concluding her work term, Hana returned to her previous role as a Trading Operations Assistant at Total Energies Trading Canada CP. Not long after, Hana joined Deloitte Canada and is currently working as a consultant. Looking back, Hana states that her experience with The Canada-Japan Co-op Program taught her invaluable lessons of adaptability and amplified her willingness to learn under pressure. She is keen to explore international experiences as her career develops.