by Ayako Yamashita

With the great help from Ito Foundation U.S.A. and FUTI, I have gained a master degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, Teachers College. I am convinced what I learned in the U.S. will be the foundation of my professional life. My future career plan is to become a leader in creating a workplace where people can maximize their potential and engage in their work without suffering from mental health issues. In this report, I would like to summarize my experience in the U.S.

I learned about organizational psychology, which will be a useful framework to analyze issues at workplaces and to help us create solutions to deal with workplace issues here in Japan. However, despite the great amount of knowledge and experience I gained while on the course, I realize that such learning alone cannot guarantee success, but it can definitely be a very helpful starting point for beginning a career in a specific field.

One of the most important lessons, which I learned while on my course, was that corporate America nurtures an environment of cultural diversity, which enhances its competitiveness. After having lectures which were taught by successful business practitioners and professors, I began to understand that diversity is one of the reasons why the U.S. rapidly developed to become the greatest economy in the world. Either in a business setting or academic setting, leaders in the U.S. are selected from a diverse and highly competitive talent pool. As far as I can tell, this is the fundamental basis of America’s success and one, which I think Japan could do well to at least partially imitate.

During my studies, I developed strong friendships with women from other Asian countries, such as South Korea, China, Taiwan, and Singapore, which was my first experience of making friends with people from these neighboring Asian nations. Through class discussions and weekend excursions, I learned about their culture and perspectives, and I am sure I will keep in touch with them and we will develop together. What is more, these relationships and the understanding of different cultures I gained from these relationships will help me with collaborative work in global business settings in my career here in Japan.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the amazing support from the Ito Foundation U.S.A. and FUTI. With their help, I was fortunate enough to gain a lifelong learning opportunity. I will work hard to tackle mental health issues at workplaces in Japan and share my knowledge and experience with other young professionals.