the Hidden Realities of Computer Industry in Japan Japanese

6.1 Unfruitful Academic Background

The number of companies who don't care about the employees' academic background is slowly increasing. Actually, however, it is still one of the most critical factors when a company recruits employees.

By the way, computers are experiencing drastic changes. Latest computers that are introduced in your office today will be scraped after a few years. Accordingly, your knowledge on old computers might be a useless topic for retired pensioners. You may say that you have learned a great deal on computers at your collage or some business institute. You may also want to boast your various qualifications. However these things would be of little use in evaluating your actual skill. Your knowledge can become out of date immediately. For computers, your knowledge gained at school will not survive so long.

The most important quality that is required for you is an ability to collect new information, digesting it for yourself as needed so that you can use it in practical applications. On the contrary, emphasis on cramming always results in a pile of useless knowledge.

Today's Japanese educational system is helplessly knowledge-oriented. How much knowledge he or she holds is the only concern for most elementally schools, or for kindergartens in some cases. Most books and magazines written about computers are always interested in presenting U.S. latest technologies or that kind. Note that the computer industries give birth to new technology one after another day after day. The most appropriate methodology you take today can be the worst choice in the future.

One might say that a basic portion of the computer remains unchanged. But consider the total performance as a system is doubling year by year. This will make any kind of knowledge be totally out of date.

What you should learn at school is the way to collect new information, that is, training for learning. Of course, a practical English manageability must not be neglected. I don't mean you should improve it into a speaking level, but at least you must be able to understand any computer user's guide. Otherwise, your quality as a computer specialist is nothing to brag about. University graduates who have not reach this level should not have such handsome salaries; it's enough with those for high school graduates.

Perhaps, nobody knows who in this country has supported OS, or the operating system, which is currently playing key roles in every computer in the world. Some are from those who had been deeply involved in a school struggle, and others are from those who had spent most of their school days indulging in microcomputers without attending at schools. Each of them must have had a reputation for crazy or that kind. To be honest, I am sure I was definitely one of them.

At any university, staffs who are well familiar with computers are mostly assistants of professors. Some universities totally rely on their capable students for maintenance of their computers.

A friend of my school days had spent eight years until he graduated from one national university. Since he was so busy working part time for some computer-magazine publishing company that he could not have enough time to spend at home, let alone at school. I can imagine how he was busily writing an article or tinkering around his computer. I rarely saw him, so I had no idea he had graduated until my friend let me know the fact by E-mail. Even after he was graduated, he had continued his contribution to administering the computer systems at the university. I've heard from someone that this might be the reason why he couldn't be graduated over eight years. It is not that he cannot graduate, but the university didn't want to part with him.

Today he is one of the Japanese leading network engineers.

When I was talking with one professor of other national university about one of the professor's skilled assistants, he claimed, "I won't last a day without him because he is the only person around here who can manage our computers." The capable assistant often wrote articles for some computer-magazine publishers. In addition, in the case of major national universities, assistant staffs are supposed to tour around various universities. It was clear that the professor's researches would face serious troubles without help from the assistant. However, under the current chair system of Japanese universities would hardly allow professors to secure sufficient number of staffs.

One of the most useless things in the computer industries may be an old source of knowledge. Antique computer information would be nothing more than an annoyance. Your academic background and qualifications will serve only as a measure of the amount of such useless relics. A good capability in language, composition, and information gathering, as well as a power of brilliant understanding, judgement, and a good sense of negotiation are the most frequently required qualities. These abilities could never be measured by just a paper test.

In general, however, it is true that a person with higher academic background tends to perform well in these things. But it is also true there are great individual differences. I cannot believe a person has really completed his education at college when I see his poor composition ability.

Copyright 1996, 1999 Hirofumi Fujiwara. Translated by H.K.
No reproduction or republication without written permission.

the Hidden Realities of Computer Industry in Japan Japanese