【Intern Blog】How Do I Live?
Hi! I'm Mei Ogura, currently an intern at SIVA!
This blog post serves as my graduation thesis, as it is the final blog post written by me.
I embarked on my journey with SIVA immediately after my exchange program, and just like that, four months have flown by. I made the most of my summer, dedicating five days a week to the office. Now, I find myself living the intern life even in my dreams at night. However, as the autumn breeze ushers in a new season, it's time for me to graduate from my internship and transition into the next phase of my life.
In this post, I aim to share the insights and experiences I've gained during my four-month internship at SIVA. It's a bit of a long read, but I hope you can enjoy reading till the end.
The Goal of Internship
Initially, I intended to extend my internship at SIVA even after the beginning of the new semester. In fact, I told this intention to Sugiura-san, the CEO, during the job interview from Texas. I can also add the fact that the more I immersed myself in SIVA's company culture while working as an intern, the stronger this intention grew.
However, as I began to finalize my postgraduate plans, I started considering studying abroad for graduate school, a path less traveled by many university students in Japan who typically devote themselves to job hunting.
One evening after work, I had the opportunity to converse with Akashi-san, my supportive manager. It was the end of July, when the spice of chicken wings was wafting in a casual Japanese restaurant or an Izakaya. Over a plate of delicious chicken wings, he posed a question, "What is the goal of your internship?".
In response, I slowly untangled my jumbled thoughts and shared my somewhat organized career plan. That night, I learned not only the best way to enjoy chicken wings but also found an answer to the profound question: "How do you live?" (Coincidentally, it was just a week after the release of the new Miyazaki movie titled "How Do You Live?" in Japanese, and "The Boy and the Heron" in English).
What is the goal of a long-term internship? I must admit that I was somewhat perplexed when Akashi-san asked me this. I saw myself at the office, constantly grappling with minor tasks as a newcomer to this industry; had it not been for the precious support from my team, I wouldn't have managed to finish any task. Consequently, it was challenging for me to clearly identify my contribution to the company as an intern, and I struggled to envision a goal beyond this situation.
In response to my confusion, Akashi-san said,
His encouraging words shed light on how I could contribute to SIVA and its wonderful team. Moreover, they helped me view my internship at SIVA within the broader context of my life. At that moment, I saw both the countdown to the end of my internship and the compass pointing towards my goals.
Where am I Heading?
If I commit myself to preparing for graduate school abroad, it will be challenging to maintain my current level of commitment at the office. In that case, I want to give my all during the period when I can fully commit to the internship. Thus, I decided to conclude my internship on the last day of summer break, despite my initial plan to stay longer.
What will I learn by the end of my internship? Considering my next career stage and the path that likely awaits me, the answer came to me quite naturally. If I continue in academia after graduate school, this experience in the business field will be precious. By considering both the skills I might need in the future and those I can acquire now, it became clear what I should focus on and learn as an intern. I decided to keep these insights in mind daily to maintain a clear direction.
I created a chart highlighting the skills I can develop now and those I will need in the future, incorporating it into my daily work report. This chart served as a compass, always indicating the direction I was heading.
By setting a goal for my internship, I noticed an improvement in my job performance and a sharpening of my thoughts regarding my future career. The compass guided me towards the next step, enabling me to move forward without losing my way and continue answering the question to myself, "How do you live?" Although it was hard to count down the days, I was able to focus on making the remaining days meaningful.
Learning to Live with Limited Time
Once the goal is set, the next consideration is how to spend the remaining days.
Suddenly, when thinking in terms of Chronos, or a specific amount of time, it becomes glaringly obvious that there are only 24 hours in a day. The day when I kept crying as a baby, the day I struggled to manage limited time during high school exams were both the same length of time in terms of Chronos.
Back at SIVA, everyone, from the cute Shiba Inu stuffed animal in the office to Sugiura-san, the CEO, and even an intern like me, all have the same 24 hours in a day. While this is a fact known even to elementary school students, my internship reaffirmed the harsh but immutable reality of our limited daily time.
The mountain of tasks I had always seemed insurmountable, though I'm sure it didn't appear as daunting to those who've been at SIVA longer. I found myself pressed for time, needing to accumulate a wealth of fundamental knowledge to complete a single task, while more ideas of things I wanted to try kept surfacing. It was high time for me to find a way to optimize my time usage.
Regardless of how remarkable a person is, they live the same length of time in terms of Chronos.
In this terrifyingly equal reality, it's crucial to prioritize tasks to excel.
I had to muster the courage to set priorities and eliminate low-priority tasks. I also realized the importance of automation and streamlining, depending on the situation, to save time for high-priority tasks. I learned that this is the technique necessary to perform better within the same timeframe, or in other words, to use time more meaningfully.
I believe this technique of maximizing the quality of time can be applied not only to "how to work" but also to the larger scale question of "how to live". There is no elixir of immortality from the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter in this real world. However, instead of the elixir, we can make the most of our limited time by living each moment wisely, performing in a way that propels us towards our goals. While time is limited, dreams and goals are boundless. My internship coincided with a period of grappling with postgraduate career planning, and although it may sound heavy, these four months were a time when I quietly pondered the question, "How do I live?"
How Do I Live?
In contrast to Chronos time, there is Kairos time. The opportune time, such as when time flies when you're having fun, is the concept of Kairos. Indeed, my days as an intern flew by. In the evening, I often found myself staring at the clock, doubting the Chronos time, thinking, "Is it already 5:00PM?". During my internship, I was able to enjoy such meaningful time (Thank you so much to everyone at SIVA!).
Time flies like an arrow. I believe there are two main reasons why I experienced this at SIVA.
First, we have people who strive to enjoy each day. I was impressed by the heart that never forgets to have fun in a good way. This is reflected in the high-level conversations and the atmosphere of sharing food and happiness as I introduced in previous blog posts (in Japanese). Happiness was always at the office. Also, I was also impressed by everyone’s attitude of enjoying every single tasks by confirming the purpose of each task.
Secondly, I would like to emphasize the importance of intense atmosphere in addition to heartwarming atmosphere. Everyone has a great passion and always tries to enhance their skills to the higher level. The members of SIVA seriously face the reality that results are demanded. In fact, SIVA has guiding principle called "5 B's".
It has been a great fortune for me to have the opportunity to work with SIVA's members, who embody these "5 B's". They also taught me that who you work with is important in making every day beautiful. My days as an intern were filled with learning how to enrich my time.
It's saddening to acknowledge that my internship is drawing to a close. However, even as a Japanese woman with one of the world's longest life expectancies, we all have a finite lifespan. When I visualize life's hourglass, I recognize the necessity of prioritizing and summoning the courage to transition to the next chapter. My future still holds many uncertainties, but I believe that if I'm armed with the valuable lessons I learned at SIVA and the art of living a meaningful life, I can lead fulfilling days in any new environment.
In the near future, I aspire to realize my dream and spend meaningful time as a graduate student in the US. I suspect that SIVA will succeed in establishing an overseas branch before I venture abroad, but I will treasure each day in the hope that I, too, will cross the Pacific someday.
I've caused quite a flood of words, so I'll end by posting a drawing Sugiura-san gave me! Thank you for reading this far!