The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


JULY 2014
To Study or Not to Study
Consider your finances, schedule, and goals before committing

By John Ghanotakis, Amir Khan, and Timothy Trahan

This month we would like to focus on a decision that many members of the Young Professionals Group (YPG) Subcommittee face throughout their careers, regarding the question of further study.

While many of our members are already highly educated and have excellent academic qualifications, there can be great advantages to undertaking additional study. Below is some food for thought when contemplating continuing education.

To begin, one must consider three key factors: budget, time, and objective.

    1. Budget

As courses can vary significantly in cost, it is important to gather as much information as possible on the fees, the cost of books and materials, as well as travel expenses. Work out your maximum budget and make sure the total outlay required does not exceed it.

    2. Time

With many YPG members looking to juggle a course with their current job, it is important to carefully calculate how much time will be required for the course each day.

Estimate how much time you’ll need for class and homework, then multiply that by at least 25 percent to account for unexpected research time and test preparation.

Luckily, there are a huge variety of online, part-time, and weekend courses to choose from, so you can find a match for your time and budget limitations. The most important thing to keep in mind is ensuring your regular work does not suffer as a result of your personal studies.

    3. Objective

Last and perhaps most important is assessing whether the course you are preparing to undertake matches your ultimate objectives.

Will it get you your dream job? Will it enhance your chance of promotion? Does it cover an area of great interest to you?

Whatever the objective, try to evaluate the course dispassionately, while honestly assessing if it will produce the desired outcome. For this it is often wise to reach out to alumni or others who have done similar courses, to get firsthand knowledge.

From JET to JMEC
There are many good reasons for continued study, whether for career advancement, personal interest/growth, or simply enjoyment. Whatever your reasons, choosing the right course can be difficult.

With the above in mind, we would like to draw from the YPG subcommittee’s own experiences and relate a personal tale of experience with the Japan Market Expansion Competition.

I participated in JMEC while on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme in Tokyo.

I was not yet ready to commit to an MBA, although I did consider the part-time weekend or evening programs at Temple, McGill, and other Japanese universities. The roughly six-month time frame of JMEC and the opportunity to work with a team of professionals seemed appealing.

The program kicked off with several weeks of business courses, as well as training and skills development, including business basics and instruction on how to write a market entry plan.

These lessons provided well-rounded background knowledge that I still find useful.

My team comprised six members, nearly all of whom were professionals in their industries, which spanned advertising, accounting, and engineering. Despite some challenges in getting along and allocating tasks, we succeeded in completing a viable business plan for a company selling premium Australian beef.

I gained valuable experience that helped me transition from the JET program and land my first business job, as an account manager in a famous Japanese telecom firm.

One of my teammates helped me get the interview, as she had initially applied for the job but realized she was not a good fit.

JMEC was a big topic of discussion in the interview. Having taken part in JMEC certainly helped me close the deal, since the company viewed me as someone who could learn new things and perform under pressure. •




John Ghanotakis (chair), Amir Khan, and Timothy Trahan (vice chairs) are members of the ACCJ Young Professionals Group Subcommittee.