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Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST)

Visit to USA San Francisco Bay Area (Overseas Partner Meeting/Career Service Networking)

March 20, 2019

Adjunct Prof. Masako Shinjoh from the Institute for Educational Initiatives visited two organizations of NAIST overseas partner universities and ten government, industrial, and academic organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, USA, from January 28th to February 2nd for the purpose of enlarging career service-related network.

Background of the visits
Currently in NAIST, 24% of the total student population (252 students) are international students. Many international students wish to work in industry or academia in western countries as well as in Japan after they acquire their master's or doctoral degrees and NAIST has provided internship opportunities (English courses and Lab stay programs) at the University of California Davis (UC Davis) our overseas partner institution located in the San Francisco area for both Japanese and international students for many years. The participating students have voiced their wish to participate in actual research activities in this area.

Visit to government/industrial/academic organizations in the San Francisco・Bay area

Government Organizations:

<Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) San Francisco Office>
In the morning of January 28th, 2019, Dr. Shinjoh visited JETRO Office in the center of San Francisco together with Professor Hasegawa, Regional Director of Osaka University North America Center for Academic Initiatives. JETRO's Mr. Yasufumi Koga and Mr. Yuki Ishibashi, together with Chief Executive Director Mr. Nakazawa, kindly explained "The general economic situation of the Silicon Valley area including trends of R&D activities of Japanese companies". This was followed by a very active information and opinion exchange time. Current problems in this area are rapid increases in both salary and housing costs. With the current situation Japanese companies have difficulty maintaining offices in the Silicon Valley area, so a solution to this problem must be found before internships for graduate school students may be established.

JETRO San Francisco visit

JGI Director Dr. Nigel Mouncey

<Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) a US government institution>
In the afternoon of January 28th. , Dr. Shinjoh visited DOE JGI in Walnut Creek (An institute of about 300 members that will move to UC Berkeley in this spring.). JGI has performed various projects for the DOE using genome information and has collaborated with many Japanese institutions. From NAIST side, an introduction of our graduate school introduction was presented along with our students' thoughts on looking for employment and other opportunities in Bay Area. According to the director, Dr. Nigel Mouncey, JGI is a global institution with multi-national researchers including several Japanese, indicating JGI may have a conductive research environment for international and Japanese students.


<Osaka University North America Center for Academic Initiatives>
In the afternoon of January 28th, Dr. Shinjoh visited the Osaka University center located centrally in San Francisco City (Montgomery). The center's missions are: (1) holding remote lectures for international education subjects by researchers in US; (2) supporting students coming from/to Japan; (3) and supporting the North American Alumni of Osaka University. Prof. Hasegawa, the center Director who also serves as the Director of JUNBA (Japanese University network in the Bay Area), provided various advice about local accommodations and the transportation system, and accompanied Dr. Shinjoh to the Silicon Valley area on Jan. 29th and 30th.

Meeting with Osaka Univ. Prof. Hasegawa

Stanford Univ. Presentation by Dr. Nishimura

In the afternoon of January 29th , Dr. Shinjoh, together with Prof. Hasegawa, visited the medical school of Stanford University to have a meeting with Dr. Toshihiko Nishimura (Director, Drug Device Development and Regulatory Science)who gave a presentation titled "Drug Development at Stanford How to recruit the Best Post Doc" (see the picture above). Dr. Nishimura explained his procedures for hiring postdocs; starting from 200 initial applicants to finally choosing one via document selection, 10 min presentations, and final interviews. As can be expected, the postdoc selection process seems very difficult and the ability to work as a team player is very important in making decisions. Dr. Nishimura also introduced his research (humanized mice) and shared information about possible postdoc employment in future.

<UC Davis>
In the morning of January 31st, Dr. Shinjoh visited the International Center of UC Davis, where English course students from several universities in Japan were chatting, to meet Mr. Nariyuki Fujita (Director of New Academic Initiatives, Division of Continuing and Professional Education International). Since graduating from university in the US, Mr. Fujita studied English language pedagogy and eventually established his own English education program, after discussions with Dr. Hisaji Maki (NAIST) 20 years ago, to provide a science and technology program focusing on critical thinking and presentation. This program was adopted by Osaka University 8 years ago and since then several universities in Japan have also participated in it. Some of the students from this program have been interested in the challenge of internship or Postdoc opportunities in the Silicon Valley area. The confidence they obtain in the Fujita-program seems to have a positive effect on for their career development.

In the afternoon, Dr. Shinjoh visited the Internship and Career Center in UC Davis to have a meeting with Dr. Janice Morand (Associate Director of the Internship and Career Center). The center provides a broad variety of programs (One-on-one advising including job searching/internships/CV reviewing/interview preparation, workshops, company visits, career fairs, networking mixers, etc.) similar to those carried out in Career Services Office of NAIST. Graduate school students in the US usually start job hunting activities while they are still students and enter companies just after the graduation, similar to Japanese students, so this was an opportunity for both sides confirmed various information and exchange opinions.

Meeting with Mr. Fujita at UC Davis

Meeting with Dr. Morand, Internship and Career Center

<UC Berkeley>
Dr. Shinjoh attended JSPS Researcher Gatherings held at David Brower Theater, UC Berkeley on February 2nd. About 80 Japanese researchers and academia office directors* from the North American area got together to expand their research and academic ties by exchanging name cards and information/opinions. * Mr. Tamiya (JSPS San Francisco Office Director), Prof. Hasegawa, (JUNBA Vice Director), Dr. Aizawa (Waseda USA San Francisco Office Executive Director)
Web contents from United Japanese researchers Around the world (UJA) was introduced to show "articles on Study abroad-experiences" and 45 research communities all over the world, information helpful for students planning study abroad.


<Silicone Valley area venture companies>
Dr. Shinjoh visited four Japanese company subsidiaries in Silicon Valley area on January 29th and 30th.

Rakuten USA Inc. (Silicon Valley branch of Rakuten Japan, San Mateo area): Two staff members of Mikitani CEO's office, Mr. Kimura and Mr. Tominaga, having various career experiences, introduced (1) venture business trends in Silicon Valley area, which still generates the biggest business deals in the US and (2) the company including its rental office business, "Rakuten Nest". After this they guided her around the office area, which has various business units, added by M&A, located on the borderless floors. One can feel how this atmosphere stimulates the fusion of different field ideas to respond currently unmet needs. At present, they plan to have a company visit event for Japanese students attending training programs at local universities and are considering possible internship opportunities for the future.

VALUENEX (Silicon Valley branch of a Japanese company, Palo Alto area): A global company with the mission of "creating wisdom from the information overflowing around the world. The COO of the Silicon Valley branch, Ms. Jiyong Choi, met with Dr. Shinjoh and explained the mining of big data such as patent and literature information and its visualization, with which customers can determine the next business values. VALUENEX provides consulting and software solutions. Ms. Choi herself has an attractive career. After graduating from Japanese universities in Hiroshima and Tokyo in the life science area, she joined a bank and obtained MBA before joining VALUENEX. The development throughout her career encourages students to challenge themselves in different fields by accumulating experiences.

SunBridge Global Inc. (Silicon Valley branch of Japanese company, Palo Alto area): This company performs name card data management and business utilization. From last autumn, three Japanese master course students, who took English training at UC Davis (mentioned above), started internships in SunBridge to develop a system for SunBridge which includes on-the-job training from Japan with on-line advice while balancing study/research and internships.

Takeoff Point (Start up from Silicon Valley branch of SONY, San Mateo area): This company handles three areas: consulting, sales and human development. They offer a company visit program to students during a training period in the US and human development training courses to partner companies.
Dr. Shinjoh discussed possible internships in the Bay area with the three companies mentioned above.

Rakuten USA meeting with Mr. Kimura and Tominaga

Novozymes Inc. meeting with Dr. Yaver

<Novozymes Inc.>
On the 31st January, Dr. Shinjoh visited Novozymes Inc., located in walking distance from UC Davis, after visiting UC Davis to have a meeting with the Director, Dr. Debbie Yaver. Dr. Shinjoh introduced NAIST and Dr. Yaver introduced Novozymes Inc. and the activities of their research centers (Denmark, USA, Japan). Novozymes Inc. is an international organization with employees from 11 countries; 1/3 of the researchers are Ph.D. holders, 1/6 are master's course graduates, and many are UC Davis graduates. As Novozymes Inc. accepts many summer interns, Dr. Shinjoh and the Director discussed possible future internship programs for NAIST Japanese students.

Beginning with Dr. Shinjoh's San Francisco Bay Area visit, it is expected that NAIST will expand opportunities for overseas internships to contribute to the supply of global-leader human resources, and for NAIST Career Services office to initiate new career support for overseas career development of NAIST Japanese and International students by providing employment information for overseas organizations (both in industry and academia).