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東京大学公共政策大学院 | GraSPP / Graduate School of Public Policy | The university of Tokyo

Jie Zhang (IIMA, Winter 2019) April 25, 2019


Thanks to the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Public Policy (GraSPP) I was given the opportunity to intern at the International Institute of Monetary Affairs (IIMA) for seven weeks   –an extremely impressive and fruitful experience for me.

IIMA is a nonprofit research institute. The institute aims to serve public interest by providing high-quality research in the international monetary field. Therefore, my internship largely consisted of research. English and Japanese are both okay for the purposes of the internship, although my colleagues at the IIMA generally spoke and sent emails in Japanese.

My role at IIMA was “research assistant.” However, I was offered a great deal of freedom and autonomy in choosing my own topics of research. I was expected to produce a newsletter that would be posted on the IIMA’s official website. Much to my surprise, IIMA offered me the time of two instructors and one lecturer to support my research. The instructors were inspiring and highly-experienced researchers. The lecturer even met with me, one-on-one, for one hour a week to teach me key economic concepts. IIMA also made high-quality reading materials and data streams accessible to me. In addition to writing the 15-page newsletter for IIMA, I also assisted in the planning of the 27th International Financial Symposium –one of the largest events of 2019. I checked translations for speeches and collected information for my instructors.

Through this internship I gained a new understanding of what a research job entails. In all honesty, I felt quite confused during the first couple of weeks as there was no job description, work instructions, or pressure to meet deadlines. The only thing I did was study. I read numerous papers and news from various sources. I also attended several seminars and symposiums. During this time, I became much more aware of the status of current international affairs. Almost without thinking, I found myself developing good research and reading habits. I also gained confidence in my own understanding of economics and my ability to apply that knowledge. I will take that confidence with me when I return to GraSPP.

Most importantly, I strengthened my critical thinking skills in the realms of economics and politics. The internship also gave me strong motivation to learn Japanese –language is absolutely crucial when exploring the larger world. As I understand, it is often very difficult for international students to find internship opportunities in Japan. Therefore, I want to thank GraSPP for launching various internship programs. I never would have thought that I could glimpse real Japanese professional society in this way, just five months after coming to Tokyo. Internships matter to a great extent for young individuals like me because practical experience often speaks much louder than theoretical understanding. Only by trying out various sectors can one truly find the career that they want to pursue. I want to convey my utmost gratefulness to the kind-hearted people at IIMA for this experience.