Melinda Wang completed a Bachelor of Commerce (International) in 2019. She went to Hitotsubashi University between September 2017 – July 2018 as part of her one-year exchange degree requirement.
Interviewed by Vasudha Soni
Edited by Megan Chen and Vasudha Soni
What factors contributed to your selection of Hitotsubashi?
Hitotsubashi University is the leading business school in Japan. Its international recognition might be lacking but if you know, then you know. Tokyo for me was always non-negotiable. I previously studied Japanese so knew I wanted to go and Tokyo is definitely the most exciting city there.
How did you balance your workload and exploring the city?
I’d say to take it easy. Study with friends if you must. Try to make it as enjoyable as possible and really focus on exploring the city.
What extracurriculars do you suggest from the university, especially for someone who’s just started their exchange?
Extracurriculars aren’t as easy. The clubs that are most welcoming of exchange students are obviously the language clubs, basketball and dance. But you might as well try anything that you are interested in.
What was your favourite part about the city you lived in?
Tokyo has a thousand different suburbs all with different personalities so you’ll never get bored. Even if you do, you can take a quick train to another city with a thousand more.
Do you plan on using the skills you learned while overseas to take on international opportunities in your future career?
I think it’s definitely opened me up to the future of working overseas, proving to me foreign countries aren’t as foreign as you might think.
You were also fortunate enough to stumble upon an internship opportunity. Could you explain what your overseas internship involved?
My internship was with a medium-sized Japanese company in the consumer goods industry where I helped them plan and create materials for their international launch. I strongly recommend that you be on the lookout for any internships available to you. You’re pretty much on holiday for 1 year (on exchange) but if you take home 2 weeks of international work experience it’ll make so much of a difference.
And now you’re a graduated student. Congratulations! Please introduce your current job title, what your work involves and where you work.
I’m now an associate working at a management consulting firm where I consult for clients about their big strategic decisions.
If you attended interviews, how did you use your exchange experience as a way to differentiate yourself from other candidates?
Personally, exchange didn’t really help differentiate myself. I quickly found out more than half of the applicants have been on exchange of some sort. A similar proportion of applicants could also speak another language. Rather, it was the short but surprisingly impactful internship that really helped me land my graduate job.
If you didn’t use your exchange experience in interviews, that’s okay. Focus on what can make you different from a regular exchange student. Think about skills they want to find, interesting and memorable anecdotes that exemplify your skills and contextualise them into office or corporate environments.
Asia has so much to offer. Check out our post on Keio University to satisfy that university-search curiosity!