Working at Rakuten - Introduction Training (研修) Summary! - Adventures of Anette

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Working at Rakuten - Introduction Training (研修) Summary!


This week was the last week of the initial training period (研修) for Rakuten's April 2014 New Graduates Group. We were 279 new-grads who joined the company on April 1st, and together we have been working on different projects to adjust ourselves to the working culture and life at Rakuten. 
Throughout the training we have learned a lot about doing business in Japan, and the courses we have had covered a wide range of topics such as Japanese business manner, omotenashi, the Rakuten Shugi, lectures from executive officers, and even a Q&A session with Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani.

In this blogpost I'm going to write a little bit about my experiences during these two months. I will not go too much into detail about the training due to confidentiality issues, but feel free to ask me any question you might have and I'll try my best to answer!

After a couple of weeks our large group with new employees was divided into 4 groups; the Domestic Merchant Development Group, the International Merchant Development Group, the Taiwanese Merchant Development Group and the Japanese Language Group. 

Group 1: The Domestic Merchant Development Group
The job of the Domestic Merchant Development Group was to contact merchants in Japan asking them about their interest in selling on Rakuten Ichiba, and the goal was for each new employee to get one company to sign up. As Rakuten already has more than 40.000 merchants selling their products on Rakuten's e-commerce site it is pretty hard for new Japanese companies to stand out in the crowd, so in that sense it must have been a pretty tough job to convince the merchants to join Rakuten.

Group 2: The Taiwanese Merchant Development Group
The Taiwanese Merchant Development Group was sent of to Taiwan to recruit merchants to join the Taiwanese version of Rakuten. The people selected for this training were native Chinese speakers either from China or from Taiwan.

Group 3: The Japanese Language Group
The Japanese Language Group had *surprise, surprise* Japanese language lessons during their training! This group consisted of foreigners who only had basic knowledge of Japanese, and only 7 new-grads were selected for this group.

Group 4: The International Merchant Development Group
I was selected to be a part of the International Merchant Development Group, a new initiative that was initiated last year with the October '13 New Grads. Our group comprised of 32 people divided into 6 teams, and our job was to contact American merchants to ask about their interest in selling their products to Japan through Rakuten Ichiba. This initiative just started last autumn so it was a new and exiting project to be a part of. 

32 members of the International Merchant Development Group
We were divided into teams of 6-7 members + 1-2 mentors, and my team ended up choosing the slightly humorous team name "All Nighters". We had to work night shifts in order to contact the American merchants due to the time difference, and that is how we got the idea for the group name..! The great thing about this training is that we got to talk directly to CEOs from a lot of interesting and unique companies! But although I learned quite a lot during the process I have to say I'm really happy that this training only lasted for 6 weeks.. Night shifts is not something I would like to do as a regular job to be honest, it is quite tiring.
The Rakuten All Nighters!
But although the training itself was pretty tough we bonded very well as a team. Everybody really did their best to perform well and support other team members, and I felt really proud of working with such talented and ambitious people. I'm convinced that I've made some really great friends, and hopefully we'll be able to stay in touch with each other also after we have been assigned to different departments.
Our 7 members + 2 mentors
So as I've already mentioned, this week our initial training period was finally over! On Friday we had a placement ceremony (配属式) where our superiors announced our future departments, and for the 32 members of the International Merchant Development Group most people were assigned to Rakuten Ichiba. This is the biggest department in Rakuten, so it was not really that surprising. Other departments people in my group was placed in included Rakuten Travel, Rakuten Card, Rakuten Marketing Japan, and finally the Creative & Web Design Department. Members of the DU (Engineering New Grads) have also been a part of the same training program as the Business New Grads (BU), but they get their placement results later as they will have their own training program starting from next week.
Got assigned to Rakuten Travel. In the background: The Rakuten Shugi
I got assigned to Rakuten Travel along with 23 other new-grads (among them 3 foreigners)! I'm pretty happy about my placement, and I think that it will be a really interesting place to work. I already had the opportunity to talk to some of my sempais, and they seem to enjoy their job a lot. So far so good.! 
Getting ready to change office 
Goodbye to the large office we have had our first training at!
I still would have to say that in general I do think that Rakuten is a very stereotypical Japanese company in many ways. There is a lot of focus on reaching the monthly KPI, and although the company is trying to become global there is still a long way to go. Unless you are prepared for long working days (sometimes you might even have to stay until the last train) you might find the work in this company pretty tough. From what I've heard from others working in the company there is a huge gap in the working conditions depending on departments, so you might be lucky and end up in the more international parts of the company where they're better at providing their employees with life-work balance but you might also be very unlucky and end up in the departments where you'll have little spare time outside of work.

Luckily Rakuten Travel is known as one of the more foreigner-friendly departments at our company so hopefully I'll be fine. From now on my Rakuten Travel group is going to have another month of training before we get to know our actual position in the company. I look forward to the training and I'll be back with more blogposts about my experiences here in Japan.

As always, thanks for taking your time to read my blogpost! I really appreciate all the comments and feedback I receive from you guys^^


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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who'd gladly trade a trip to the shoppingmall for a hike in the forest any day.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette


The classical story about a girl who went for a one-year exchange program to Japan, fell in love and got stuck there. Starting out as a student in Kyoto in 2010 I now work full-time in Tokyo as a hotel consultant, and write mostly about my travels, working life in Japan as well as a bunch of random stuff.
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