July 19, 2019
It coops time over here at RIT Croatia. Our students are spending their summer working in various companies, industries, and countries all over the world, putting their knowledge from the past semesters into practice. For the purpose of this story, we decided to talk to our IB senior Lucija Hrastić who is in Japan, conducting her second coop in that country; this time it is for the renowned EY.
Lucija Hrastić comes from Croatia (Varaždin), but has been living abroad since she was nine years old. The countries she’s lived in include Belgium, Turkey and Japan. "I attended French school all through my years abroad and even considered studying in Paris or Lyon but decided against it and ended up choosing RIT Croatia. Besides the well-known and frequently repeated advantages of RIT Croatia I simply wanted to go back to my country and I have learned from various sources that RIT is the best place to study business in Croatia” says Lucija.
Lucija loves nature, her friends and reading books, and this is what she had to say about her Japanese adventure:
Q: What made you decide to do your co-op in Japan?
Lucija: This is actually my second internship in Japan. Last year I did it in a financial consortium called JIAM, that helps source B2B solutions for Japanese asset managers. My first motivation is my family, since they live in Japan, and I do not get to see them often. I wanted to work in an international corporation and gain experience in areas of interest for my career development. But also, an internship in Japan opens up doors for future employment opportunities especially if you are in a company such as EY, one of the global leaders in accountancy and consultancy. Japan has also a unique business environment with peculiar business practices and being able to learn in such an environment is a rare opportunity. It goes without saying that I also considered what would be a strong point in my CV as well as, what the recruiters will find both intriguing and immediately applicable in a real working environment.
I love Japan and I am so happy to be back. However, in an ideal scenario I would start pursuing my career somewhere in Europe. I will be always coming back to Japan and why not one day to work here.
Q: What does a typical work day in Japan look like? What is your position and what are the main responsibilities you are in charge of?
Lucija: I am an intern in the tax department and in the transfer pricing subservice line. I am part of general TP and mostly work on inbound projects. My work consists of benchmark analysis, economic analysis and a lot of formatting and editing. I also assist senior managers in the preparation of reports like drafting financial appendices, creating graphs and updating numbers etc. When attending meetings, I also may be asked to take notes. It is a well-structured internship program. EY really takes care of you and makes sure you get the most out of the internship. I had a two-day orientation and I was assigned a peer advisor and a counselor who are instrumental in all my endeavors and assignments.
My day starts with waking up around 6 AM. I like to wake up at least two hours before I leave so I do not have to rush in the morning. I will have breakfast at home although a lot of Japanese would have it on the go. They would usually stop in a convenience store and buy an onigiri which is a traditional rice snack filled with fish, meat or vegetables and wrapped in seaweed. I go to work by metro as most people do. My commute is about 40 minutes one way which is about the typical Tokyo commute. And if you have not already seen this on TV the Tokyo metro is very busy in the morning, and people usually need to push themselves in. I work on flextime so I can come in at any time as long as I do my required work time. So, in the morning people are usually coming in between 8 and 10 AM. I prefer to be early so I am in the office by 8h30. I have my lunch break with my colleagues and every day we are usually going to a different place. Part of the building I work in is a mall so we have a lot of choice. The daily meal or in Croatian "gablec” is around 1100 yen which is about 65 kn. Before I go home, I make sure to ask if anybody needs help, if there is, I will stay regardless of the time. So usually I am back home between 6 and 8 PM. In Japanese companies however, interns could work much longer hours. Also, if it is a Friday, colleagues from the office will usually go out for dinner and drinks and or later to karaoke. It is considered the best way to decompress after a long week.
Q: What’s it like to live in Japan? How do you spend your free time?
Lucija: I lived in Japan before and this is my third time in Japan so I am not shocked anymore but when I came the first time everything seemed different. First of all, they drive on the left side of the road and their highways are literally in the sky passing through buildings. They are extremely organized and have rules for everything. There are many differences between Croatia and Japan. For example: in Japan practically, no one gets upset or angry if there are a lot of people on the metro even if they get pushed around which happens a lot. When the train arrives, people will first wait in lines on the sides of the door and let everyone out before entering the train. This seems trivial but when I come back to Croatia, I really miss it. There is an incredible number of world class concerts, exhibitions and other events. Tokyo is considered as one of the gastronomical capitals of the world. Furthermore, you can find everything in the shops. You have products from everywhere, the amount of choice is incomparable in any category.
Fortunately, I have a number of friends in Japan. Tokyo is like our base and we all return there for the summer. Tokyo is famous for its night life so there is always somewhere new to go. Also, I spend a lot of time with my family especially at weekends. Sometime we take day trips from Tokyo to neighboring cities like Yokohama, Kamakura and Nikko. As I already mentioned I like hiking and there a number of mountains around Tokyo. My favorite area is Okutama, west of the city.
When it comes to local food, on top of my list is teppanyaki. It is grilled meat, fish or vegetables prepared on a griddle in front of guests. My favorite one is also the simple onigiri which I mentioned earlier. Among the food we prepare at home high on my list is okonomiyaki often called Japanese pancake and yakisoba a pasta-based dish with chicken and vegetables. Among non-Japanese treats I like going to the Lindt Caffe and get macarons, ice-cream and their famous chocolate. Then there are the japan-only Starbucks items like green tea doughnuts, cakes and drinks.
One of my rituals while in Japan is going to Disneyland and only one in the world – the DisneySea!
Q. What skills have you learned during your co-op that you believe you’ll find helpful in your studies as well as in your professional journey?
Lucija: From the moment I received my first task I was encouraged by my councilor to ask questions, to ask why are we doing this, for whom are we doing this and what is the scope of the project. She did not want me to do the work blindly and encouraged me to press for details. Also, when you are confronted with a particularly difficult task, it is part of working culture to ask for help. It is not expected of you to know everything right away. I have also gained a lot of practical knowledge since I am doing real work for real clients. I have also had a glimpse of what it is to work in a corporate environment. It is never enough to emphasize the importance of networking. So, I have been invited and I invite people to lunch regularly. I engage with the people in the office constantly which resulted with invitations to events out of the scope of regular duties.
I will miss my family when I leave this place. In terms of my co-op, I have realized that I really like the corporate working environment. Particularly, since I have been working in TP and on related issues that could easily be part of my future career.
Q. How has RIT Croatia prepared you for this exciting journey of completing your co-op in Japan?
Lucija: I cannot go into details of my work here of course, but I can tell it was striking to experience how much of the college curriculum is applicable in a real working environment. More precisely the college courses have helped me grasp the concepts of TP significantly faster than if I was never introduced to them. The acquired analytical methods, case studies and the financial vocabulary were essential for me to understand the projects at work.
When it comes to finding and deciding on a master’s program you wish to commit to, it can be quite daunting given the numerous options that exist around the world. Monika Karlović wanted to find a program allowing her to use the knowledge she gained during her undergraduate degree while expanding her knowledge in business and strategy development.
Kristina Sardelić was born in Sydney, Australia in 1996. At the age of 3, her family decided to move back to Korčula, Croatia where her father, his family, as well as her mother’s family, are from. Growing up in Croatia, she always had a feeling that she would one day make the trip back to where her roots are from if not just to visit family, but to try to start a life for herself like her family once did.
With the final exams fast approaching and signaling the near end of the academic year, the RIT Croatia Dubrovnik campus presented its students with the opportunity to mix business with pleasure. On April 12th the HTM students, as well as the WMC students, had a chance to partake in the field trip to Split and visit some of the companies related to their major.