TOMODACHI High School Women Career Mentoring Online Program in Tohoku STEP 2 & STEP 3: Students Learn from International Students and Professionals, and Consider Challenges and the Future
On November 21-22, and December 19-20, 2020, STEP 2 and STEP 3 of the TOMODACHI High School Women Career Mentoring Online Program in Tohoku supported by the TOMODACHI Combini Fund, titled “Session with International Students Challenging Themselves Outside Their Comfort Zones” and “Session with Female Professionals in Japan and Overseas,” were held online. About 90 high school students from Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures attended, continuing on from the previous session.
In STEP 2, “Session with International Students Challenging Themselves outside Their Comfort Zones,” six students from the United States, South Korea, Taiwan, India, and Syria, who have studied abroad in Japan, and three Japanese students who have studied or interned abroad gave presentations that highlighted their experiences and challenges. After listening to each respective story, the high school students reflected on the presenters’ experiences and shared their thoughts about how they could effectively transition into a new environment. Students’ reflections included thoughts such as “Keep moving forward even if we fail,” and “Focus on what we can do, not the excuses why we can’t.”
STEP 3, “Session with Female Professionals in Japan and Overseas,” was held with 13 business women representing seven companies (Amazon Web Services Japan K.K., Kikkoman Corporation, Dow Japan Group, Toyota Motor Corporation, Northrop Grumman Japan, FamilyMart Co., Ltd., Mizuho Bank, Ltd., and Lawson, Inc.), all of whom discussed their past experiences and focused on how students could make the best choices for their respective futures. The high school students listened to the professionals’ past experiences, asked questions, and sought advice regarding their career paths, worries, and work.
One of the students who completed STEP 3 commented, “At first, I was worried about working in society and was afraid of becoming an adult. However, the professional women happily talked about their work, which made me less afraid and made me want to start working soon. Many people have experienced difficulties they couldn’t overcome by themselves. They spoke with those around them, worked together and overcame those difficulties. I learned that there are a lot of things I cannot do by myself and that I need to work with others to succeed. Instead of trying to solve every problem by myself, I will talk and work with my friends, teachers, and family.”
STEP 4, the final session of the program, will take place January 30-31, 2021. In this session, the high school students will give short presentations where they will reflect on what they have experienced and learned through the program, and how the information they learned can assist them in their future endeavors.