I attended an SGI meeting yesterday in San Francisco, and we had a discussion session during the meeting.
We talked about the importance of being ourselves and how it is hard to do so. We have a lot of pressure to be a certain way. I’m in the midst of job hunting right now, and it requires me to really think about about myself and what I want to accomplish in my career. At the same time, I get a lot of pressure from a lot of people like my parents. Everyone except me in my family lives in Tokyo, Japan. It is therefore natural for me to think of Japan as one of the places to work and get settled. At the same time, however, most Japanese companies have this strange and rather crazy recruiting system where they hire a lot of newly graduates from college once a year and just once a year. An interesting implication of this system is that if you miss that opportunity, your chance of getting hired becomes extremely small.
This kinda digresses from my main subject today but here are some more interesting facts about job hunting in Japan.
1. Everyone looks alike –> meaning that those who are hunting jobs are supposed to wear a black or navy suits and have similar haircut (both guys and girls)
2. Everyone skips classes and go to job fairs and such –> students don’t study much in Japan. It’s hard to get into college but easy to graduate.
3. If you are not hired by the time of graduation (if you “missed” the opportunity), you postpone your graduation even if you have fulfilled all the requirements to graduate
4. If you take a year off after you graduate, you are most likely not able to get a full-time position immediately
5. A part-time job and internships don’t really count as experiences. In fact, most companies do NOT want students to have experiences
Having said that, I do think that there is a certain advantages in this system. It worked well when Japan was in the midst of economic boom in the 1960s and 70s. At the time, Japan needed a lot of workforce and this system was very efficient in achieving that goal. After 50 years, however, this system is clearly not working today. I can list a number of reasons why this is not working and the negative consequences of the system but that’s beyond the scope of this post!
All in all, my message here is that if Japan has above-mentioned kind of recruiting system, it gets very hard to be myself. People go crazy and try to get a job without thinking about what they really want to do in the future. I feel in the same way. I see myself trying to give reasons why I should become this and that. But is that really what I want to do? I’m not completely sure. One of my friends said to me, “If you have a bigger goal, don’t think about strategies to reach that goal. Just chant to reach that goal.” Very true! My day starts with 1 hour of daimoku again today.