Over the course of the summer break, I was able to be involved in different work experiences. Since I always liked children, I was lucky to be able to work as a babysitter and an assistant at a Children’s English Bible study summer program at my church. I was also actively engaged in social media; Instagram, so I was able to start on a work experience with a clothing store to promote their clothes and jewelry products from an overseas brand. From these two distinct work experience, I learned the importance of organization and management; self and time, and I also achieved different skills for the work and even transferred some skills to the work experience from my learning based on my school extra-curricular activities.
I started babysitting from the beginning of April until the end of July for once a week. I had later worked as an assistant at the summer program in mid-July for a week every day. (A wellness version of my experience at the program can be seen here).
The family was Japanese but they moved to the states after my last month of babysitting, and so during these three months, I was responsible to interact with the child in English as much as possible. Communicating with children was already a difficult task because you had to simplify your language and talk to them in a clear manner. Although you had to be kind and gentle, but not too gentle.
Three skills that I worked on:
- Communication: This was one of the most important skills for my babysitting experience because, despite the fun, I had to keep assertive in order to maintain a babysitter role. I was also using both Japanese and English in order for the child to become used to the English language before leaving to the states.
- Patience: Children are full of energy and high-spirit, it can be overwhelming. I learned to stay calm in chaotic situations.
- Creativity: A huge part of babysitting was to involve interactive games and activities to keep the child engaged. It is also important to use creativity as a way of learning. I tried to implement drawing and painting time in order to introduce colors in English and a picture-description card matching activity to introduce verbs.
- Problem-solving and quick decision making: Attention and motivation of the child were important for learning. Although if the child could not listen, despite how hard I tried, and the child had rather played with Barbie dolls over reviewing picture cards, I learned to think of an alternative to still interact with English.
Assistant at VBS (Vacation Bible School) summer program:
This was not a paid job, but my role as a translator from Japanese and Chinese to English was extremely important for this job. The VBS missionary team were all English speakers, with some being fluent in Chinese as well. The class was taught in Chinese, but there were some Japanese-only speakers. An obstacle that I faced was self-management. Something other than work experience I had done during the summer was taking the TOEFL. The week of the test was on the same week, and I had been agitated and sleep deprived. Although I could not show a tired face in front of the children, so I had always kept a smile. Even when it was hard, I learned to keep positive-minded and avoid putting on a frown.
The other job I had was to use Instagram to promote the jewelry company and the clothing store. The jewelry company, Qudo, is based in Germany, located in the beautiful city of Hannover. The clothing store, Lea K, ran by my Korean friend’s mother, is located in Motomachi street. My main job was to update the Instagram feed by taking photos, writing captions, and staying active to increase followers, and most importantly to increase recognition. To do this, it was important to keep in mind the three C’s, as this was a paid job:
- Content – Visual content
- Creativity – Aesthetics
- Consistency – Knowing your intention and purpose
Similar to my other work experiences, I was also required to use my Japanese skills. Although, I was more used to English and less in Japanese, and therefore, I was learning as I was posting. I was careful about this because this was a business account, and was important to “focus on advertising the product,” as the shop owner had said to me during our conversation.
Time-management: As a rising senior, I had to work on school work and preparation for university applications during the summer as well. Photographing, editing, organizing, and captioning can be time-consuming. Without a good time-management, it was easy to become absorbed in the world of Instagram. With negotiation, we discussed what was realistic in terms of the number of products to photograph, to edit, and post. By collaborating with my friend, we combined the Japanese and English caption with Korean hashtags, increasing the number of likes and followers from different countries.
Transfer: In order to fulfill good visual content, photography skills were a component part of this job. Due to my experience as a photographer for the MIMI fashion page of the school Chowa Yearbook, my photography has drastically improved. Hence, helping me with the photography for the account. Additionally, as an IB Visual Arts student, I take careful account of the overall composition and balance of the visual content, helping me stay consistent.
At the very end, what I learned the most is the importance of language and communication skills in a work experience.