News Letter

News Letter – International Hopefuls+ #8

Issue 8
November 2019

1.I-HoP News (by Mariko Katagaki)

At the beginning of December, I-HoP held following two big special events.

-USA Site Visit in RTP, North Carolina
Originally this event had been expected in October, however, postponed to December due to the powerful typhoon “Hagibis” hit Japan and the flights were all canceled.
On December 1st, 4 participants departed New Chitose Airport and after long flights, finally arrived at Raleigh/Durham Airport, North Carolina, in the USA.
During our stay in the NC, we visited 4 companies and 3 universities in the Research Triangle Park (RTP); Red Hat, BASF, IBM, Syngenta, NC State Univ., Duke Univ., and UNC Chapel Hill. The working and studying environment were so different from Japan. Each participant had the unique experience to learn the doctorate career in the USA and think about their future career after getting their Ph.D. degree.
I’m sure that they wish to share it with other DC&PDs. We are considering the debriefing session, once the date is fixed, I will announce it by email.

– CAREER LINK MEETUP -For international DC and PDs-(Akai-Ito Kai in English)
On December 10th, CAREER LINK MEETUP has been held for the first time. 7 companies including Sony, NEC, Mitsubishi Aircraft representatives came to Hokkaido University and more than 22 DC&PDs participated and communicated directly with them in English, by poster presentation and booth sessions. This event was aimed to support the international DC&PD’s career development.
This was a big challenge for I-HoP, I strongly believed this would be the special opportunity to the international DC&PDs, expand their research and advance their career in Japan. Some of the participants found the application step or internship.
I-HoP will try to continue this kind of event, to provide the opportunities to meet the companies and international DCs and PDs in English.

2. Memo from the Visiting Professor Y. Iida

My dear International Researchers,
A common misunderstanding of many international students and researchers is the validity of your visa. Currently, most of you must have a student visa or a researcher’s visa (for the case of postdoctoral researchers). Even if your current visa is valid through June 2020, for example, it will become invalid when you graduate or finish your research term in March 2020. You must change the visa if you want to stay in Japan when your status, such as a student or a researcher, changes.
In case you do not secure a job at the time of graduation and want to continue your job hunting in Japan, there is a special visa for you. You will change the permit to “designated activities” or otherwise known as a Job-Hunting visa, which is valid for six months with a single option for extending for another six months. This visa assures you of continuing your job hunting in Japan for one year after graduation. There are specific qualification requirements for filing for this visa. Documents such as a certificate of payment record of your tuition, graduation certificate, or recommendation letter (to continue your job hunting) from the university are required. Please visit Kyomubu, the school administration staff of your school, or faculty to discuss and secure the documents far before your status changes.

3. Career Management Process for PhD

We have been explaining the seven steps of the Career Management Process since May. We explain this month the last of the seven steps. Before starting the explanation, the seven steps are shown below again for your reference:

Step-1 Make up your mind for the change
Step-2 Recognize yourself and your value (Self-Assessment)
Step-3 Identify Jobs and Tasks (Occupations)
Step-4 Gather Information on companies/institutions
Step-5 Initial Decision to narrow down to a few targets
Step-6 Recognize the gap and catch-up with training/education
Step-7 Apply for a Job

In this 7th step, we will discuss fundamental elements only uniquely available for PhDs of Hokkaido University. There will be many exceptions and variations in each and all job applications, so we recommended that you make an appointment for career counseling at I-HoP by emailing to before you proceed with an actual job application.
There are two different hiring practices in Japan; new graduate hiring and mid-career hires. New graduate hiring is a unique Japanese practice that is applicable for undergraduate and master course students. Most of the Japanese companies hire fresh graduates only once a year, and the new entrants will start to work on April 1 regardless of the industry or types of corporation. Doctor course students and Postdoc researchers will be hired by the mid-career hiring practice, which is similar to the hiring process of companies outside Japan. Please note, however, some large corporations which hire many PhDs may use the same hiring practice as the new hire for their convenience. For the simplicity of explanation, we only explain here the mid-career hiring practice in this section. If you are interested in the New Graduate hiring process, please refer to the Career Handbook, which you can receive free from the Career Center. This handbook has two bi-lingual versions; Japanese-English and Japanese-Chinese.
For Ph.D.’s mid-career job application, you need a formal document like CV (Curriculum Vitae), Rirekisho (use designated form, or Hokkaido University’s standard form, which is available at Co-Op store), List of publications or papers and the cover letter. When you go through steps 1 through 6 of the career management process, you will be able to prepare these documents much more straightforward. Without proper self-analysis or understanding of the job or company information, it is sturdy and time-consuming for compiling the application document and have yourself prepared for the job interviews and examinations. I-HoP career counseling will provide one-to-one personal advice and editing of your material, either face to face or by email. Feel free to use the service.

You would need consistency in the contents of the document as well as the way you would respond to the interview or interactions with members of the target corporation. Job application is a self-promotion activity, and you must establish your branding before you start applying for a job.
Please keep in mind that the very reason for preparing the document is getting a chance to meet with the key person of the target corporation. The least successful option for submitting your material is to the HR (human resources) section of the company without a reference because there will be thousands of similar applications, and HR must process the document bureaucratically. The best option is to send your paper directly to the president, the head of the laboratory, or anyone who is in the hiring decision position if you happen to know them. The CAREER LINK MEET UP event, which appears in the previous section, is a unique program of I-HoP, which is a match-making event of international Ph.D. students or Ph.D. holders and Japanese companies all conducted in English language. In case you are fluent in Japanese (language proficiency of N1 or above), and you can orally communicate in Japanese, you are encouraged to attend “Akai Ito Kai,” which is a similar event like CAREER LINK MEET UP but use Japanese only. Akai Ito Kai is held four times a year, starting in September.
I-HoP also provides mock interviews (both in English and Japanese) practice as a part of the career counseling service.