Senpai Success Story #20: Andrew & Delving Into Financial Consulting

Andrew in Kyoto

Andrew’s time in Japan influenced the person he is today. If you want to learn how he got his first job as an Associate / Research Assistant using Japanese, be sure to read his background and connect with him!

Welcome to the Senpai Success Story, where you can read about others who have walked a unique career path using their Japanese language/cultural skills. (Psst: Senpai means “mentor” or “teacher,” and the concept is important to understand for anyone wishing to work in a Japanese business setting.)


Ever since I was young I was interested in Japanese culture. The memory I have of its start is actually quite odd as it was simply the moment I watched NHK, (Nippon Hoso Kyokai) which is Japan’s national broadcaster. I was a toddler at the time, born into a multicultural family full of various languages already. Japanese, or any non-European language for that matter, was included. So why that one moment is still remembered by me is something I still marvel at from time to time. When I look back at it I notice it was the fluidity with which the conversation progressed. No debating or arguing or yelling over one another. In a few words, it was news told in a simple way that was not too hard on the ears.


I actually forgot about Japan for a number of years. Until my advisor brought it up as a place to try studying abroad at after I had tried looking into so many other options, it had left my mind completely. Yet that moment brought back all the memories immediately and led me to study abroad in Kyoto for an entire year. Before going to Kyoto, I had tried my best to learn Japanese and get involved with the Japanese community in NYC. I had spent my early college years studying Mandarin and Korean , so  I had not been able to find many opportunities beforehand. But after searching, I was able to take a class that mixed Mandarin and Japanese as well as an internship. These experiences and the friendships I made helped me get accustomed to the language. I am grateful for those days.

Studying in Kyoto

I studied abroad at the Kyoto University of Foreign Studies in Kyoto City, Japan for 1 year between 2017 and 2018. While there I studied Japanese language, philosophy, history, culture, law and architecture among other fields of research. I also volunteered for a local citizens group in Osaka that focused on environment related issues. I traveled a lot while I was in Japan and was able to learn a lot simply through my day to day life. One of the things I learned in Japan was to keep on going forward everyday, accept yourself, and do not fall into nothingness.

I enjoyed my time in Japan very much. Being a student abroad in a country where I could barely understand the language yet loved a lot of its literature and history was fascinating to say the least. In all honesty, instead of culture shock I felt more comfortable over there when I landed! It was a time I shall never forget, moments I remember forever.


Fast forward to post-Japan, I graduate a semester early from my bachelors degree by way of a thesis on Hikikomori and contemporary loneliness that I typed in 1 semester. Then I graduated with a master’s degree about 2 years later via a thesis on Japan’s cultural diplomacy. Right before I graduated with my M.A degree in international affairs from The New School, I had found a job at a Japanese financial consulting company.

My Job

I had applied to the JET Program, was selected as Alternate, and then the entire program was cancelled due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions imposed by the Japanese government. I guess life had alternate plans for everyone who applied! As life would have it, the day before my graduation from graduate school, after about 5 interviews and an assignment, I landed a job! It is where I work now. I work for a financial consulting company headquartered in Tokyo with a research office in New York City. My main role is researching about various finance and business related matters in order to provide information to the Tokyo office and/or affiliated businesses.  I sum, a lot of translation, web searching, note taking, and spreadsheet making. I am a complete novice in finance and business, not to say that this is my first full time job as well. So I am trying my best to learn and improve as the days go on. Also, as of this month, I have officially completed my trial period and was accepted into the company! I look forward to new adventures.


In all honesty, if it was not for Japan, I do not think I would be in the position I am in now. Also, I do not think I would have been able to go through school at the pace I had. You work hard when your heart is beating to the melody of your dream. My work ethic and willingness to push onward is definitely important too. But Japan’s role in the equation of my ability to have found a job mid-Pandemic, and continue onward through life, is undoubtedly large.

That is my story in relation to Japan in a nutshell. If you love or are just slightly interested in Japan, I say go for it. You never know where your interests might lead you~

Also, if you ever want to talk about Japan, Kyoto, or even finance or business, feel free to message me on Instagram @kyotokaze, find me on Facebook at Andrew Sokulski Zozaya, connect with me on LinkedIn at Andrew Sokulski, or email me at!

Take care and keep exploring!

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