Internship at Fukuoka Now – Report by Tomo Greer

Not many university students can say without hesitation, that they managed to land a perfect internship over the break. Sometimes the gap between what you imagined of your internship, and what skills you hoped to gain can be far-fetched from reality. In some cases, one whole summer would pass, leaving you to wonder what other skills you gained apart from handling everyone’s coffee orders. Well I can gladly say that wasn’t my case.

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I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to utilise my strong point in all my work – of speaking and being able to read and write both English and Japanese fluently. It seemed too good to be true, that at an internship level I was able to experience what the field of journalism is like in an international company. The office here is truly bilingual, and you sometimes even get the answer to your question in a different language to the one you asked it in!

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Over the month I interned at Fukuoka Now, I was blessed with the opportunities (and most times, quite literally receiving a blessing from the priest of the shrine) to report on various cultural events around Fukuoka. This is precisely in my field of interest; being of half Japanese half New Zealand decent, I was nurtured to value both of my cultures, and I enjoy attending events that hold a long-standing tradition. To be able to employ my understanding of the Japanese language, traditions, and customs, and to communicate them to an English readership was a profoundly exciting experience. It was an educational, international, eye-opening, mouthwatering and above all awesome internship, and I’m thankful for this opportunity.

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Tasks
• Translation of news articles and upcoming events from Japanese to English
• Collecting information on upcoming events
• Interviewing and reporting of local events
• Collecting data and interviewing for web guides

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Main Reports/Jobs

Atago Shrine Fire Festival (Read here!)
Having gone to Atago Primary School, and being away from Japan for almost eight years, reporting this event made me feel very nostalgic. Here I had a very active and hands-on reporting experience, walking across the burnt coals and participating in the event with the locals.

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Goodbeers Faucets (Read here!)
For my own experience, I contributed to this report by typing up an English report on this newly opened bar, while another reporter wrote a Japanese manuscript. Seeing the two reports side by side made me realise different people pick up on different things, and put emphasis on different parts. The contrast between the two reports weren’t simply just Japanese and English, but evidently portrayed what the two of us found most interesting. At the same time, seeing a more experienced reporters’ report on the same topic as I wrote on was a learning curve – it taught me what the essential things to include in a gourmet report are, and what kind of language to use in this kind of report. And what’s more, I pretty much received a free lesson on craft beer! (The end result is a fusion of the two reports).

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Nanakusa no hi (Read here!)
Yet again, I had a delightful time, reporting on a both cultural and gourmet experience. Here, I interviewed many people from locals, children, to the head priest – this aided my interviewing and social skills, being able to adjust to different people.

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Fukuoka Cheap Hostels Guide (In production – coming soon!)
For this massive project, I went around hostels in the Fukuoka City area, interviewing and collecting data of various accommodations. We were very restricted on time, having to go around nine hostels in two days. From this, I gained time management and interviewing skills – also, it was very interesting to visit a range of hostels.

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Oyster Hut Guide (Read here!)
This mouthwatering project involved me updating data on the various oyster huts that have popped up in the Fukuoka area for oyster season. This was quite challenging for me, as although in English we don’t have ‘formal phone language’, in Japanese it is very vital to speak in a formal, polite manner to people on the phone. Calling up various oyster huts and being cautious not to slip out some Hakata-ben (local Fukuoka dialect, considered informal) was a challenge. This gave me confidence in over-the-phone interviewing, and the ability to write notes quick as you’re talking.

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Skills gained
✔︎ Time management: I have gained the ability to write up reports on time, and especially an understanding of the importance of timing for a publishing company.
✔︎ Computer skills: Using google docs and various photo applications, I’ve improved on my computing skills.
✔︎ Interviewing: From preparing questions to understanding what kind of questions are necessary to write up a good article, I learned about the whole process, and were given many opportunities to interview people.
✔︎ People skills: From talking to locals, restaurant owners to even priests of a shrine, I have learnt to interact with a variety of people (in both languages too!)
✔︎ Communication: With the staff putting strong emphasis on communicating ideas clearly to the readership, and not missing out on essential details, this was drilled into my head over and over again.
✔︎ Awareness: Especially for a publishing company, I’ve learnt the importance of being aware of what is going on in the newspaper, on the web and in the city.
✔︎ Self-confidence: From the first ever article I wrote, I have gained confidence in my own work and in my ability.

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Conclusion
Anyone with an interest in publishing, reporting, and interviewing in a bilingual environment – even if you don’t speak Japanese – should without doubt apply for this internship. (Don’t think, just do it!) Not only do you gain a range of skills that will be invaluable for your future career, whatever it may be, you get to have an awesome time while learning the ways. To see your effort get posted on the Fukuoka Now Facebook page and on the website on a daily basis has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done, and has given me confidence in my ability that I otherwise would not have had.

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Report by Tomo Greer for Fukuoka Now. 

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