Internship blog: Mike’s goodbye

Happy new year everyone! This is everyone’s favourite intern Mike, checking in to write his final JCE blog.

My 18 week internship at Japan Cultural Exchange is coming to an official close Friday the 12th. I figured I’d tell all of you interested in what we do at JCE what I’ve been up to in a top 5 countdown of activities that left the biggest impression on me during my internship.

5. Promoting JCE on social media.

Starting off at number 5 is actually the most crucial part of my internship. JCE has relied heavily on, for example, Facebook to most activities higher up on this list possible. I’ve mostly been writing content to inform our steadily growing group of followers about what we’ve been up to, and inviting them over to every event and happening JCE was part of. I really enjoyed this role, because I love staying in touch with people.

The reason promoting JCE on social media is not higher up on the list is because I DO love staying in touch with people, but I found out I would rather work with these people in person.

4. Hosting pop-up stores (seemingly at random)

Sometimes I would be working at the office and all of a sudden Emiko, my boss, would say something like: “Oh yeah, we’re doing a pop-up store here in a week”. This would always be exciting. Before I realized our open office space would be turned from blank canvas to a well decked out store, filled with jewellery or contemporary monochrome artworks.

During the periods we ran these pop-up stores, the creators of the items for sale would spend entire days with us at the office for one or two weeks. These people often came all the way from Japan and travelled around the world in the hope to appeal their products or artworks to the rest of the world. This means that besides their Japanese viewpoints and personalities, they also had a global side to them, making them very interesting conversational partners.

These arrangements often felt very last minute, meaning we ended up having to improvise the promotion for these events, letting everyone know these people came here to open up their store. This last minute marketing ended up being a very valuable lesson for me.

3. Interpreting for trusty records at Amsterdam Dance Event

Coming in at the 3rd place is a job that wasn’t necessarily related to the other activities I do at JCE, but was a blast either way. A couple of weeks before ADE took place, Emiko came up to me and asked me if I wanted to interpret for a record label that came from Japan to Amsterdam during the event. Me being me, I jumped at the opportunity to get some real working experience right away.

Many of you must be familiar with Amsterdam Dance Event in one way or another. To most people ADE is a week where all the most popular DJ’s from around the world come to our capital city to play their most amazing sets, so party all around. However, as I found out during my job at ADE, there is also an entirely different side to the event. Many of the big label companies from around the world also gather at the event to do business, check up on their contacts, and possibly expand their network for future collaborations or business. The man I interpreted for at ADE was the CEO of a Japanese label called Trusty Records. This was the first time he left Japan to represent his company abroad, so there were many challenges we faced together, and we overcame them together too. I learned a lot that week.

2. Baking “Marubouro” for the guests at the Japanfestival in Amstelveen

At the 2nd place is one of the more peculiar events I got to be a part of at JCE. Two confectioners from the Saga Province in Japan, came over to collaborate with a famous confectioner in Amsterdam to make a cookie that seemed a lot like the Dutch eierkoek. Only this cookie, the marubouro has its place in Japanese culture instead of the Dutch. In fact, the eierkoek and the marubouro most probably shared a common place of origin.

Once the confectioners in collaboration baked a few batches of their cookies, we went off to the Japanfestival in Amstelveen. Here we set up a tent with ovens, tables and television screens that took a lot of work to rent. In these tents the Dutch and Japanese confectioners worked together to bake the cookies with all the festival guests in a workshop format. It was a lot of work interpreting for the Japanese confectioners, but it was so worth it!

Meeting these passionate confectioners who were willing to go halfway across the globe to make and share this little, but significant, piece of Japanese culture with the rest of the world really was an elevating experience  

Honourable mention:

Falling slightly out of the top 5, but also very interesting and educative was the work I did for JCE for Holland Kyushu. With this work I translated texts from Japanese to either English, Dutch or both. With the help of a test reader we aimed to make these texts in something more interesting than just a direct translation, really including the marketing part into the equation.

1. Preparing for MONO JAPAN 2018

MONO JAPAN is possibly the biggest Japanese craft & design fair of Europe. This scale really reflects upon the day to day business in the office. At first it wasn’t as much, but since the event itself is drawing closer and closer, about 90% of the daily workload is now dedicated to MONO JAPAN. I’m mostly busy making promotional material like creating and keeping a tight Facebook upload schedule for introductory texts on the event and pictures, and making short promotional videos.

Being an intern for PR and Marketing, I also had to do a lot of other responsibilities during the preparation for MONO JAPAN, like making direct contacts with possible sponsors or locations where we can promote, helping around with other tasks around the office and sometimes keep in contact with our collaborators.

The greatest part was probably the team. It was great to see a large group of individuals, each with their own particular set of skills, come together to work towards a collective goal. I knew exactly who to contact for what information, and I was always sure I could count on them.

I would like to thank the JCE and MONO JAPAN teams as well all collaborators I got to work with and all the readers of this blog for all the amazing and fun learning experiences these past 4½ months. I am pretty sure there’s a lot of things I learned here that will really helped me in my career following graduation.