Hitachi Launches “Job-based Internship” for PhD Students

A student who participated in the job-based research internship

Hitachi is promoting "job-based" human capital management in which the scope of duties is clearly defined, people are assigned to those jobs, and their treatment is determined according to the content and performance of their work. As part of this initiative, Hitachi has rolled out a full-scale internship program for students studying for a PhD in 2022. But why is Hitachi targeting PhD students? This article is based on interviews conducted with a Hitachi representative and a student who participated in the internship program.

What is a job-based research internship?

Motoari Wakatsuki, Talent Acquisition Department, Hitachi, Ltd.

According to Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the number of students entering doctoral programs in Japan is decreasing due to the lack of employment opportunities in the private sector and uncertainty about future career paths, a trend that is unique to Japan among major countries. If this situation continues, there is the fear that Japan's scientific and technological capabilities will decline, and improving the situation is a pressing social issue.

Therefore, Hitachi is promoting a "job-based research internship" in collaboration with Japan’s MEXT, universities, and other organizations. In this internship program, PhD students work in paid research and development at a corporate research institute for two months or longer in accordance with the job description. Students can participate in this program and gain university credits, and after the internship, the company issues a written evaluation of the student, which is linked to the student's university grade.

Motoari Wakatsuki, who promotes this internship program at Hitachi, said: “Hitachi has a corporate philosophy of 'Contributing to society through the development of superior, original technology, and products.' As an embodiment of this, Hitachi seeks the abilities of highly specialized human capital with a high level of expertise and skill who are in PhD programs. We expect that they will create technologies that solve social issues.”

Building a career as an extension of research

Mr. Kenya Suzuki of the University of Tokyo Graduate School during the interview

Mr. Kenya Suzuki, a student majoring in Marine Technology and Environment, participated in a job-based research internship at Hitachi for four months starting at the end of November 2022. He is tackling the research and development of solutions to promote resource circulation and decarbonization by recording and managing data related to the circular economy (an economic system in which companies circulate resources without producing waste in the course of economic activities).

Mr. Suzuki commented on his reasons for participating in the internship: “I thought that there was a gap between the world of research and the business world, and I wanted to know what they were doing in the field.” He added: “There are many stakeholders in the field, and I felt that I learned a little bit about how things are discussed from their perspective.”

When asked if this internship is worthwhile for his future career, Mr. Suzuki said:

“In my PhD research, I am developing expertise in a specific field. I really want to build a career as an extension of my research, so I really appreciate this internship because I can check whether there is a mismatch between my research and what companies are looking for. I think the internship would be good for other students as well."

Strengthening human capital that can contribute to solving social issues

Masayuki Oyamatsu of Hitachi, Ltd. during the interview

Hitachi's mentor for Mr. Suzuki, Masayuki Oyamatsu, said of Mr. Suzuki: "He has contributed to our research as one of our colleagues and has been very helpful.”

“Climate change is a pressing social issue, and Hitachi is working every day to solve it. Thus, we are strengthening human capital who can contribute to solving these issues, like Mr. Suzuki. We are very grateful that Mr. Suzuki is actually making use of his research in the field and is an immediate asset to the company.”

Oyamatsu also talked about the students participating in the Hitachi internship program: "They don't have to get a job at Hitachi.”

“I would be happy if the students have a realistic work experience at Hitachi and choose Hitachi as their place of employment. However, even if the students do not choose to work at Hitachi, there is something to be gained for their research and career from the internship. That is fine with me.”

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