Why You Should Take a Chance on the Unknown

Guest blog post written by University of Manchester graduate and ex-Careers Service employee Toby Manley

“Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today.”

Bilbo Baggins – The Hobbit

And there The Hobbit could have ended, coming to a modest close on page four and shutting the door on one of (arguably) the greatest series of adventure novels ever. Thankfully, Bilbo Baggins surveys his comfortable life and decides to take a chance on the unknown, embarking on a quest.

But what has The Hobbit got to do with graduate jobs? It epitomises the value of taking a chance. Taking a chance can be the best decision of your life. In fact, awaiting you at the end of this article may be this very chance!

The Start of My Adventure

My name is Toby. I’m seven months into the Sekisui Chemical graduate scheme, working for their HR department; the best seven months of my life.

Toby BBQ Thing
Enjoying Japanese culture with a BBQ with friends

I didn’t plan for any of this. When I graduated from my MA in Intercultural Communication in 2015, I knew only one thing: I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. So I started working for The University of Manchester Careers Service as part of their Manchester Graduate Programme, and quickly settled in to my new role. I loved the freedom and opportunities that came with the role, and was content to consider my future in the University. I never imagined that six months later, I would have secured a graduate job in the Tokyo HR department of one of Japan’s leading chemical companies.

All because I took a leap in to the unknown.

I came across Sekisui’s job posting whilst working on the UoM jobs board, CareersLink:

‘Graduate English Business Coordinator – start your career in international business in one of the world’s most exciting cities.’

I was enticed.

A job enhancing global communication in a multinational company?

The opportunity to learn all about business with a starting salary of £29,000?

A subsidised apartment in the heart of Tokyo, paid flights to Japan, no Japanese necessary!?

The opportunity was brilliant. I was comfortable at the University…but I applied, just to see what would happen…

The Sekisui Application

The application process for Sekisui Chemical was much less convoluted than normal graduate schemes: no online tests, assessment centres or multiple interview stages. Sekisui made taking a chance easy.

The application process is as follows:

Step 1: Application form

Step 2: CV and one-page summary of education/world experience

Step 3: Final Interview

Since joining Sekisui, I’ve realised that the application process is simple because Sekisui value ambition and potential; showing that you have a genuine interest in working in Japan, and learning, are both important. For this reason, Japanese language ability isn’t necessary and they give you classes when you arrive. The degree subject also isn’t a deal-breaker (my BA is English Literature), but Humanities, Languages, or Business students are sought after.

In my application, I stressed my own individual experiences and aspirations. Within a month and a half of applying, I’d been offered an interview. I was so nervous, expecting something ‘mysterious and Japanese’, but I was met with a friendly, multicultural panel, genuinely interested in my life experience and ambitions. It was the best interview of my life. In retrospect, I realise this is because Sekisui have the process down to a fine art. Succeed or fail, they leave you feeling proud and positive. This is a testimony to the expertise of the HR department, which I have been fortunate enough to learn from ever since.

My Experience in Sekisui

My job title is English Business Coordinator. It’s a role that comes with genuine responsibilities that impact the company, globally. Right now I’m managing all aspects of an international recruitment project, from market analysis to advertisement strategy and interview design. I’ve also developed the English skills of members, enhancing their job functions, and supported global HR events.

Toby Group Photo 2
Toby and his team at Sekisui

Of course, Sekisui reward you well for your work and help you assimilate to your new life on the other side of the world. What I value most about this role, however, is the opportunity to learn, though training and also interacting with some of Japan’s most talented people, every day. As with any adventure, it’s often the people you meet along the way that are the greatest treasure.

Had I stayed put in the U.K., I wouldn’t know this different, amazing world that has allowed me to grow my skills, learn all about business here in Japan, and meet some of my best friends.

Knock Knock

Gandalf: “I’m Looking for Someone to Share in an Adventure” –

If this sounds like something you’re interested in, Sekisui are currently recruiting again. You can find out more on their website.

Of course there are many other opportunities available for those of you interested in working overseas. Whether you’re looking for a graduate job abroad, or something for your summer, you can find relevant information on our webpages.

Don’t forget that The Careers Service is always available to talk through your options and next steps!

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