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An Engineering Internship in the Japanese Countryside - By : Philippe Murray,

An Engineering Internship in the Japanese Countryside


Philippe Murray
Philippe Murray Author profile
Philippe Murray has been a Bachelor’s student in Software Engineering at ÉTS since the fall of 2014. After a first internship on the Côte-Nord, he decided to travel a little farther for his next internship: Fukui, in the Japanese countryside

Gokayama in Japan

Gokayama, traditional japanese village and World Heritage in the prefecture of Toyama. Substance CC license.

Fukui Byora

Fukui Byora is specialized in the cold forging production of small metal parts for use in the automotive and electronics fields, among other things. The company employs around 500 people, mostly in factories located in the Ishikawa and Fukui Prefectures. I worked in Awara, at one of these factories.

The Internship

Since I am interested in business intelligence systems, I applied to Fukui Byora for a BI (Business Intelligence) development internship. I was the third trainee to work on this project. What is more, not only was I the third intern, but also the third from a Montreal university.

My task was to integrate production cost data analysis to a business intelligence software. I had to gather the information and make it “talk”. I started by developing many interface prototypes to understand how to analyze and pull information from the data from a user’s perspective. What do they want to know? What kind of anomalies do they want to detect? These were the types of questions I had to answer. I then implemented the solution in order to compute and aggregate the data for presentation to the user. Also, I produced the tests as well as the documentation needed so that the next trainee could take over two months after my departure.

Fukui Sakura in Japan

Cherry blossoms along Asuwa river in the city of Fukui

Why Japan?

With a keen interest in foreign languages even while at Cegep, especially in Japanese and Tagalog and knowing that I wanted to go to university, I started to research the possibilities of international studies or internships. That’s how I found the Canada-Japan Co-op Program and how, three years later, I started the process of finding a job in Japan. There were several interviews: a screening interview at ÉTS, an interview with University of British Columbia officials to be admitted to the program, and other interviews with Fukui Byora representatives.

Do You Speak Japanese?

This is a question I’m often asked: do you need to speak Japanese to work in Japan? Many think you do. I had a good base in Japanese before leaving—about three years of language study—but this is not always the case. I met trainees with extraordinary Japanese skills and others who could only say “hello”. When it comes to language, the important thing is to show proficiency in English and a desire to learn. If the only thing holding you back is your limited knowledge of Japanese, do not hesitate.

Okayama Kourakuen in Japan

Kourakuen, in the city of Okayama and one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan

Working in Japan—How it’s Done

The simplest way is to go through the Canada-Japan Co-op Program. For ÉTS students, Sophie Boulanger, from the cooperative education services, is your entry point. The process begins two semesters in advance. Although not that complicated, there is a lot to do in a short time.

Another important aspect to consider is the cost involved. There are fees attached to the application to the Canada-Japan Co-op Program. Then, when selected, you have to go to Vancouver for a week of preparation. And finally, of course, there is the cost of the internship. Fortunately, ÉTS students are privileged. While most students must pay the University of British Columbia extra fees, ÉTS covers these costs; all we have to pay are the regular ÉTS registration fees. Also, although my salary there was about $1750 CAD per month—which is enough to travel and have fun while saving money—it was lower than what I would have earned for an engineering internship here in Quebec.

So, was it worth the effort? From my point of view, absolutely! I learned a lot and met great people. I loved this experience so much that I am going back for my 3rd internship.

Philippe Murray from the École de technologie supérieur

The author with three of his colleagues on his departure

Philippe Murray

Author's profile

Philippe Murray has been a Bachelor’s student in Software Engineering at ÉTS since the fall of 2014. After a first internship on the Côte-Nord, he decided to travel a little farther for his next internship: Fukui, in the Japanese countryside

Program : Software Engineering 

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