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BYU Students Who Major in Japanese Stand Out

April 2024

Two BYU students smiling as they are standing by a window in front of buildings.

Conducting business in Japan can be challenging. The business culture there is more formal than in the United States. For example, at a job interview, candidates in Japan are expected to say “Shitsurei shimasu” (meaning “excuse me, thank you for having me”) before entering the interview room. But BYU is working to give its Japanese majors a head start.

For the past two years, BYU professor of Japanese Steve Moody has prepped small groups of students to attend the Boston Career Forum. Moody collaborated with the BYU Careers and Experiential Learning and the Liberal Arts Advisement Center to create the prep course. In the semester-long course, students build résumés, write personal statements, research companies, practice interviews, and learn from alumni about their experiences working in Japan.

One of these students, Shule Thoreson, credits BYU for his success at the forum: “My preparation at BYU made the experience a lot more enjoyable. I’d already prepared résumés and interviews, so I could just focus on networking in Japanese.” That preparation and networking paid off in a big way when Thoreson received two job offers for positions in Tokyo during the Boston Career Forum. “I reached my long-term goal of finding an engineering job in Japan,” he says.

The Boston Career Forum is a benchmark talent-and job-search tool for global companies and people who are bilingual in Japanese and English. Companies at the forum represent a variety of fields, including finance, marketing, and engineering.

Moody says, “Sending students to Boston to talk to actual company recruiters—it’s real-world. It’s high stakes.” He adds, “Most of the people who attend the career forum are Japanese, so when an American shows up, recruiters often think, ‘Oh, this is going to be someone who doesn’t really know anything and just thinks Japan is cool.’ But our BYU students are not that way—our students are focused and prepared, so they stand out and get through that first barrier.”

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