Essay 1 (Required):
Please tell us about a time when you took a big risk, including what the risk was, what happened, and how the experience changed you. (400-600 words)
The biggest risk I have ever taken was to quit my first job. I was really lucky to get a job as a financial planner in Nomura Securities, one of the most prestigious financial firms in Japan. When I quit, everyone told me that it was too soon to throw away my position. However, I really wanted to work abroad and improve my English. Even my parents said that I should explore more and try not to live in a cage. So, soon after I left Nomura, I went to San Francisco with no job and without any friends to help me.
With little idea of what to do, I took the risk of calling a respected figure in the Japanese financial community on my own, with no personal introduction – just as a young person seeking advice, he took my call and was willing to meet me and give me advice. He told me I should prepare for working abroad by studying English abroad. I determined to take this advice.
I also met people in San Francisco who helped me a lot. I had no place to stay and didn’t know much about the city. They helped me get a job as an intern at Btrax, a business consulting company that provides their customers with solutions for global marketing. They introduced me to a position as a sales assistant there. I was happy to get a job, but I was not aware of the fact that there was no salary, and not even a reasonable promise of hiring me. I finally refused to work there. After that, I was at my wits’ end, but people in San Francisco were so kind to take me to restaurants, to the gym, and to the beautiful spots in San Francisco.
My experiences in San Francisco changed my thinking about working abroad. Even though I spoke English well, and had worked for a couple of years in Japan, none of the companies hired me as a full-time worker. I realized that to work abroad, especially in the U.S., I would have to be an expert in something, and that I should be able to be immediately effective for a company. I decided to study finance. Also, I understood how difficult it is to use English in business, not just in ordinary life.
After two weeks of stay in San Francisco, I decided to study specifically for business English in Malaysia, where I could work as a travel consultant using business English. I acquired business speaking and writing skills, telephone conversation skills, and methods of handling customers. Malaysia is the “melting pot” of Asia, so I met many people of all races there. I respected and learned a great deal from them. Meeting such different kinds of people made me realize what my own identity as a Japanese was like. For instance, I realized that Japanese were really punctual and formal compared to them. Sometimes too much of anything may be harmful, but I became convinced that we should make the most of our own identities, especially in business situations.
My experiences in San Francisco and Kuala Lumpur have increased my motivation to learn business English and about different cultures. I took a big risk, but I now feel that not taking a risk is the biggest risk of all.