Farina has studied Japanese/Korean language and culture at the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany with an exchange year at Kyushu University in Fukuoka. She has worked in several customer service industries in Germany and Japan for several years. Her profound understanding of customer needs paired with managing marketing operations on a global scale and being multilingual makes her a key member of the Meiji Internships Team.
What is your favorite travel memory?
My favourite travel memory is the time I went to Taiwan with my friends. We rented a car, drove to Taroko National Park, went to different night markets and tried all kinds of different street food there.
One day, my friends were busy, so I joined a language exchange in a local pub. There were about 50 people, among them two girls who were studying German. We hit it off so well that we decided to leave the pub after just a few minutes. The three of us headed over to the convenience store, bought some drinks and talked for hours on end.
The next couple of days, we hung out together and they showed me around.
It’s incredible how a coincidental meeting turned into such a great time. I now know that I do not have to worry if I go somewhere alone, I can always make friends!
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
On a regular basis, I talk to many people from diverse cultural backgrounds, not only verbally, but also through emails. Learning how to interact with people from different cultures without actually seeing them has made me more culturally sensitive. I always find it fascinating to see what different concerns people have depending on where they come from, how old they are, or what they study. Every now and then, we get particularly interesting questions that truly make me rethink and improve parts of our programs. I always try to see things from the intern’s perspective, as well as my own. In that regard, I have not only adapted to the Japanese culture, but to many different ones.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
We had one student who really wanted to stay in a homestay, but was concerned that it would be too difficult to find. She is a vegan. In Japan, it is often considered rude to ask for altering a dish (unless it is because of an allergy), or people don’t know what veganism is. However, I had a host family in mind that would be able to accommodate her dietary needs.
In the end, both the student and the host mum were happy. The students loved staying with her and her family and the host mum was happy to have someone who appreciated her cooking and shared her love for fresh veggies. This case perfectly shows how one student’s seeming difficult point turned into their biggest asset!
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
I would definitely choose a destination I haven’t been to: Vietnam or China. I have seen many beautiful pictures of China and Vietnam and would love to see it for myself. My industry of choice would most likely be Tourism because it would allow me to meet a lot of people from different backgrounds and learn something about my host country while working! Back in Germany, I had a few Vietnamese friends and I feel like Vietnam and China are countries where I would instantly click with people. Plus, I would love to try authentic Vietnamese food because it is one of my favourite cuisines.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
Our staff members come from a lot of different countries in Europe and Asia. This means that not only our background is different, but also our working cultures. Still, we always find a way to work together as a team and find a place for everyone to do what they can do best. Based on skills and languages, there are certain things that only some or only one of us can do. Sharing responsibilities is what we are outstandingly great at. I think this is our most unique quality!
What I am proudest of is our teamwork. There are many cases where we found an internship for a student although it seemed hard. It might appear impossible at first, but I know that I can always count on my team. Everyone does the task they are best at and by putting all the pieces together, we create the perfect match, for both the company and intern.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
One of the most important things: Placing the right person in the right position, so everyone can use their full potential. It would be terrible to have someone who has a great education but had to do tasks that are too boring or too hard.
In order to grow, it is crucial to find new markets and offer new products. Once you have found the right market/product and audience, you need to keep them leveled.
Be it employees or business development, balance is always key!