Following the 2022 Victorian Japanese Speech Contest, I had the great fortune of undertaking an internship at the Head Office of Mitsubishi Australia Ltd. Given that I had some experience in working with Indigenous students, I was placed in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) division to assist with their involvement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs.
Over two weeks (six days in total), I was tasked with translating an overview of the history and progressive developments in Reconciliation (from Japanese to English), as well as providing a 20-minute presentation.
The latter consisted of recommending three Indigenous education organisations for Mitsubishi to potentially partner with and support. The assignment was a highly ideal intersection of my studies in Secondary Education and interests in listening to/understanding Indigenous struggles (predominantly external to formal study). This intersection was supported by contextual factors for the presentation. These were derived from the Japanese conceptualisations of Indigenous affairs in the translation task, their Japanese-Australian workplace culture, as well as a two-hour visit and tour around an Indigenous education campus that Mitsubishi currently supports.
As a result, I was able to amalgamate three major domains of interest (Pedagogy, Indigenous affairs, Japanese) into one presentation, supported by Mitsubishi’s contextual frameworks and visions. This process of preparing and presenting this was an experience of immeasurable value. I have attached a photo below.
Just as invaluable as the opportunity to produce these material outputs, this internship was highly fruitful for several other reasons. In the interest of refraining from writing a novel as a report, here is a list of themes that summarise the observations, lessons, interactions, reinforcements, and newly understood areas of improvement I gained from this opportunity:
- Observing and assimilating into the workplace culture in a balanced and appropriate way. Considerations including the structure of the day, office layout, etiquette, the professional roles of colleagues, prevailing connection/relationship with diverse colleagues, constant peripheral awareness of surroundings, and even humour!
- The fundamental, extreme importance of emotional support and wellbeing in producing meaningful work and constantly learning.
- Engaging in productive conversations and meaningful professional relationships.
- Articulating my personal intentions through explanation and actions, as well as inversely understanding others’ authentic intentions within context.
- Balancing and finding the fine line between asking numerous professional questions and respecting the pending workload of colleagues.
- The interactions between Japanese and Australian approaches and ways of thinking.
- The complex and multi-faceted interplay, not just the linear relationship, between a transnational group and various local communities/individuals.
- The dynamics of the company’s interactions, whether explicit/direct or inexplicit/subconscious, with other organisations and companies.
- The practical and logistical viewpoint of ‘change’, particularly in the context of the relationship dynamic between societal values and business.
- How a company (more conceptually speaking, a practice) may successfully sustain itself for a long period of time and through various major events.
- Confronting daunting concepts/circumstances and overcoming their overwhelming nature by drawing from as many memories and previous experiences as possible.
I acknowledge that despite gaining in these aspects (and more), my capacities and time were limited. Hence, these understandings are not complete, but are foundations to continue growth and learning upon.
Prior to this internship, I had barely any exposure to the corporate/business/investment sphere of society. I had minimal knowledge and zero interest in participating in these fields. However, upon completion of this short insight into Mitsubishi, I have developed an interest in potentially bridging my domains of interest to corporate organisations, but also more broadly forming genuine partnerships and collaborations between various other fields.
Therefore, the predominant takeaways that inform my professional (and personal) trajectory are as follows: to continue refining my values and precise articulation of such values through language and actions, as well as to continue engaging, listening, learning and seeking common ground with people of various professions.
I would like to express my immense gratitude to Horie社長 of Mitsubishi Australia Ltd. and his colleagues, the people of JCCIM/JSM, Iwasaki先生 of Monash University and all who made this experience possible.
This internship took place on the unceded land of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nations. They are the Traditional Owners of the land on which I was able to engage and benefit from in this opportunity at Mitsubishi Australia Ltd. I pay my respect and gratitude to their Elders past, present and emerging, as well as any Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples who may be reading this.