Taking that leap from being a lazy sloth of an university student who works when she pleases, if she pleases, to an organised, hard-working intern working nine hours a day can be a terrifying transition. Despite my grim expectations of the working world, my time at Fukuoka Now was awesome. I had fun, met new people and stepped outside my comfort zone, all whilst gaining some invaluable skills for my future, and an insight into working in media. In other words, I was hitting many birds with one stone.
For starters, participating in a blindfolded sumo competition, practicing zen meditation on a Sunday morning and walking on burning coals during a purification ritual never used to make it on my busy weekend agenda. Over the course of my internship, however, my weekends became filled with these bizarre and wonderful events. I’m sure you’re wondering how on earth I came to do a firsthand report on a blindfolded sumo event, so let me delight you with the story farther down this page.
As I sit here reflecting on my time at Fukuoka Now, I struggle to describe the whole experience in a few lines, let alone in one story. My time was filled with not one story but with so many stories, reports, web pages, magazines, countless coffees, laughs, learning curves, several mistakes and an equal amount of eureka moments. Irregardless, I can say with confidence that, if you chose to have an internship at Fukuoka Now, your experience will be equally as exciting as mine, yet utterly unique.
Background & Duties
Fukuoka Now is a media company that publishes a monthly magazine, and regular online contents on our website and FaceBook page. The aim is to provide useful information for foreigners living in Fukuoka and in Kyushu. The readership is mainly foreign, so the majority of our content is in English, with Japanese translation for some of our bigger contents. There are many roles for interns; reporting, researching, editing, IT work and translating. (You don’t have to be able to speak Japanese but it’s definitely a plus!)
As a typical clueless intern, particularly when it came to IT, I was taught how to make web pages and manage online content. I learnt how to conduct interviews and write in a concise yet fun manner – something my law degree doesn’t cover.
With my Japanese/New Zealand background, I initially came on board as a translator, researcher and a reporter. My duties included:
• Translating news articles and event information from Japanese into English for our magazine and online content that would interest foreigners and Japanese living in Fukuoka
• Creating comprehensive guides after conducting research. eg: Countdown Guide, New Year’s Sale Guide, Free things to do in Fukuoka Guide
• Creating web pages: including rotating ads, creating banners and monitoring blog posts
• Conducting interviews in Japanese and in English
• Assistance with organising and running Fukuoka Now events. eg: Valentine’s Day party, Canada Day party, and being a receptionist at FIBA (Fukuoka International Business Association) events.
• Reporting on local events eg: Blindfolded Sumo, Fish Market Open Day
Reports: My naivety in thinking I could just to turn up to events and write a report was crushed with hard work soon enough. The planning – from calling up organisers, arranging interviews, to the post-report editing, photo-choosing and web-making process, you will find there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes!
Guides: Making these guide involved countless phone calls, emails, proofreading and fact checking. Lesson learnt? Accuracy is so important – the company’s reputation is on the line with each publication.
Interviews: The interviews were some of the funnest projects. Preparing questions, talking to the interviewees and transcribing recordings into text was a long yet rewarding process. I was given the chance to interview Bobby Judo, a local celebrity who regularly appears on radio and TV, and Ardit Como, a professional balloon artist actively involved in volunteer work. I also participated in the Aso Intern Interview Project – a two days long programme conducting interviews with employees from different divisions of the highly acclaimed Aso Corporation.
Events: Fukuoka Now is host to many big international parties like Canada Day, Creative Community and Valentine’s Day parties. Goes without saying there is a LOT of organisation that goes into these, for example PR, venue hire, making a ticket sales page and hiring entertainment for the night. Assisting on the actual night is a chance to let your hair down, and meet a bunch of other foreigners doing exciting stuff.
During my time, I was fortunate enough to be a receptionist a FIBA event (Fukuoka International Business Association) which Fukuoka Now jointly hosts with the Fukuoka City Office. Here, I was given the chance to talk to leading business persons in Fukuoka discuss the future of the city’s economic growth. This was a great opportunity for me to make connections which will undoubtedly be useful in the future.
Fukuoka as a City: Fukuoka ranked in the top ten most livable cities in the world by Monocle’s Quality of Life survey – a rather splendid achievement. Although it has been my personal number one for years, this is an accurate description, not just for locals but for those with no prior knowledge of Japanese intending to move here. Food is not just cheap- it is jaw-droppingly cheap – and the quality is top shelf. Did you know that in mid-2014 there were more 2 and 3 Michelin star restaurants in the Fukuoka/Saga area than in London or New York?? Seriously! The infrastructure is world-class, with an expressway circulating the city, and several subway lines, and train and bus lines running in and out. And as factored in the Monocle survey, crime rates are very low, and the economy is beginning to boom. Conclusion? A great place for an internship.
Provided by the City of Fukuoka
Level of Monitoring: This will depend on what kind of internship you wish to choose. (i.e. just providing contents or having a full-time internship) Until you find your feet, you’ll be guided by the chief-editor and friendly sales and media team on how the company runs. Everything you do will be checked by someone before it goes online or in the magazine. Nevertheless, you will have a lot of creative freedom, and if you have a killer idea for the next issue, then your voice will be heard!
To wrap up, the skills you gain, the adventures you’ll have, and the friends you make during the course of your internship are priceless. Whatever you decide to do in the future, you won’t regret this once in a lifetime experience!
Check out my last year’s report here: