Paid Internships in Tokyo

The NII

The Information Science Group cooperates with the National Institute of Informatics (NII) to offer master and PhD students paid research internships in Tokyo. Bela Gipp worked at the NII as a postdoc for one year in 2014-2015.

  • Who's eligible: Master and PhD students at the University of Konstanz
  • Duration: usually 6 months
  • Application deadlines (twice per year):
    - May deadline: begin internship anytime between July of same year and March of the following year
    - November deadline: begin internship anytime between Jan. and March of the follwing year
  • Project topics: collaboratively decided by supervisors at the Univ. of Konstanz and at the NII, working on own master or PhD project can be possible
  • Compensation (monthly): 171,000 JPY (approx. 1,400 Euro - sufficient to cover all living expenses)
  • Want to learn more? See our FAQ (at the end of this page) or send an email to Bela Gipp.

Team event with Prof. Aizawa, Prof. Gipp, and NII interns. Tokyo, May 2016.

Internship Program

A cooperation agreement between the NII and the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Konstanz allows students from Konstanz to conduct research in Tokyo and vice versa. Bela Gipp initiated the conclusion of this agreement to continue and expand the fruitful collaboration with researchers at the NII that he and Norman Meuschke had experienced while completing a one year-long research stay at the NII.

The cooperation agreement offers students at the University of Konstanz a great opportunity to get involved in international research and allows to experience an exciting culture, country and the world’s most populous metropolis – a city that literally never sleeps!

The duration of the research internships can be anywhere from 2 months up to 6 months. During this time, students work on assigned projects in collaboration with their supervisors in Konstanz and at the NII. The broad range of research activities at the NII and particularly at the ISG's partner lab of Prof. Akiko Aizawa, offers a great variety of project topics. In agreement with their supervisor in Konstanz, students may work on their own research topics, for instance as part of their master project & thesis, while profiting from the academic and scientific environment at the NII.

Interns receive a monthly compensation of 171,000 JPY (approx. 1,400 Euro), which is sufficient to cover the living expenses in Tokyo.

In addition to the highly professional and inspiring research environment at the NII, interns will find sufficient time to discover the Japanese culture and the country on weekends and public holidays.


Life in Tokyo

Tokyo is a city like no other in the world. Grown together from multiple cities, every district varies significantly and has its own characteristics: from the vibrant electronic town in Akihabara to the calmness of the Imperial palace garden and shrines of Chiyoda, from the cosplay and youth culture in Shibuya and Harajuku to the traditional pottery shops and antic markets of Asakusa. Regardless of what you are interested in, you will find it in this city! And if you don't like it where you are, just take the metro, travel to the next station and get excited about the variety you will be exposed to.

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  • Akihabara - the "electric town" in Tokyo at night
  • Sankeien garden in Yokohama - only 1h away from the NII
  • Asakusa, one of the many busy districts in Tokyo.
  • Cherry blossoms in Kiba park, Tokyo

Despite the millions of people living, working and travelling in Tokyo every single day, all is perfectly organized and safe. People queue up in straight lines for the trains, don't raise their voice in public and always try to avoid bothering the fellow men. Locals are more than willing to be of the assistance for foreigners in need, even if they themselves often don't know the direction asked for or don't speak a single word English.

Just some short one- to two-hours train rides outside of Tokyo, you can discover the natural beauty of Japan. Enjoy the majestic view of Mount Fuji in front of the panoramic view of the five lakes or dig deeper into Shinto and Buddhist culture by discovering the temple walk-way around Kamakura.

 Japan and the Tokyo area in particular offer everything you can imagine and dream off. You just need yourself get into it and start the adventure!

Make sure to check out Felix' story published in uni'kon (magazine #64, 2016), the magazine of the University of Konstanz. The story describes what Felix has experienced both during his research at the NII and in the freetime when he visited Tokyo and the surroundings. Felix also reveals what he would do differently next time!


FAQ

Is the compensation / stipend really enough for living? I've heard Tokyo is quite expensive?

  • Yes, Tokyo is probably similarly expensive as other capitals, but the compensation is still enough. Felix didn't make any loss during his stay, i.e., he was able to pay from the compensation his room in a shared house, daily living (supermarket, restaurant, etc.), and even some weekend trips. If you want to live in an apartment and not in a shared house, even that is possible - as other interns did as well.

Should / do I need to learn Japanese before performing the research stay?

  • It is not necessary to learn Japanese before going to Tokyo. At the NII everyone speaks English, so you will easily be able to socialize with other colleagues and interns. If you live in a shared house, many people are interested in foreign cultures (otherwise they wouldn't live in a shared house with people from all over the world). This makes it easy to find friends at "home", and most of them also speak English well. There are also many other opportunities to connect with people in Japan, like meetup.com where you can find people that share same interests as you and group together, e.g., for photography, hiking, etc.

Where can I learn more?

Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, is only two and a half hours away from Tokyo.

Application

Applications can be submitted twice per year in April and September (times vary slightly). Here are the steps to apply:

  1. Choose one of the projects from our site, or suggest your own topic, e.g., related to your thesis.
  2. Get in contact with Bela Gipp (bela.gipp@uni.kn). Please include a short description of yourself, your background, and the time during which you would like to do the internship.
  3. We will choose the best two projects from the applications we receive and nominate them for acceptance by the NII.
  4. The NII makes the final acceptance decision and notifies the candidates.

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  • Daisho-in temple on Miyajima
  • Bridge in Nikko
  • Tenryu-ji garden in Kyoto
  • Sunrise on Mount Fuji

Student Reports

Jagrut Kosti

As a master student, it was very exciting to get to know the international research environment. NII provides perfect environment for working independently and interacting with other researchers. I got plenty of opportunities to present my work to Prof. Aizawa-sensei and her lab and get valuable feedback which helped to improve and shape my project. I also had very fruitful discussions with my colleagues. My project was related to Blockchain Technology and I took the advantage of living in Tokyo by going to a few Blockchain Startup and Meetup events to get to know different people, perspective and ideas.

Apart from work, it was fun to experience the Japanese culture. People are really polite, food is pretty good (although, it took some time for my Indian taste buds to adjust to the Japanese food ;)) and one can never run out of things to do in Tokyo itself! On weekends, I did a few 1-2 days trip near Tokyo to places which are very well connected by train and easy to get out of the concrete jungle.

My experience as an intern at NII and Japan in general, was very enriching, both academically and culturally.

Student Reports

Michael Kramer

I've always dreamt of going to Japan. So when Prof. Gipp offered me the chance of living there for 6 months I couldn't believe my luck.

Apart from the language barrier (Sometimes it's hard to get by with only English), I felt right at home in Tokyo. This was not only due to my already high interest in the country and culture, but also thanks to the NII and the living situations here in Tokyo.

At the NII the office is really open and the co-workers are very friendly, helping one get through the first days by going to lunch together, suggesting activities for the free time and explaining some of the do's and dont's of Japanese culture.

The work at NII is very autonomous and free. Help will always be granted by either the coworkers, Prof. Aizawa-sensei, Prof. Gipp or Norman Meuschke. The weekly meetings granted a very interesting insight into the work of my co-workers/students and were also a great opportunity to meet new people not located inside my office.

Living in a shared house is also a great opportunity to meet many international people. The first two months I was living in a shared house from Sakura house, where nearly every weekend all residents of Sakura house were invited to attend different events with the staff translating everything. These events ranged from very cultural, like tea ceremonies or kimono wearing, to more modern events, like art gallery visits.

Life in Tokyo is great. The food is delicious and there is so much to do: exploring the city and finding a temple right between two huge skyscrapers, visiting local events like the Hanabis with their incredible fireworks, experiencing the nature in and outside of Tokyo or just having fun in one of the very different districts.

I can definitely recommend this program to everyone interested in experiencing another culture and working in an international environment.

Student Reports

Jacqueline

As one of the first students from the University of Konstanz, I got the unique opportunity for this research stay as part of my master’s program in Information Engineering. Without any ideas about Japanese culture and its language, this program opened a whole new world to me, in both work-related and cultural experiences.
During my stay, I was working on three different project topics and was mostly supervised by my professor in Konstanz. Still, the support I received from Aizawa-sensei and other researchers was a highly-valued input to my projects. In weekly meetings, the current students presented their ongoing research and comprehensive discussions led both to insights into other topics, and a deeper understanding of my own research.
Most of the research is conducted autonomously with much flexibility to shape the internship to one’s preferences. Therefore, I could also find some time to discover several aspects of the Japanese culture and the beautiful country. Once I got used to the obvious differences in food, language and cultural norms, the adaption proceeded easily. Japanese friendliness – even if communication in English is not always easy – helped me a lot to integrate. I especially loved how this country manages to blend their modern and technology-focused way of living with their always present traditional and cultural background.
During my stay in Tokyo I was able to learn a lot about a culture previously unknown to me. I got to know many interesting and lovely people with whom I will stay friends for a lifetime. Doing research within the international context was also a totally new experience, which helped me shape my own future plans. This stay was really unique and if I had the chance, I would definitely do it again!

Student Reports

Felix

After a long flight and being awake for over 30 hours, the first hours in Tokyo were exhausting. For instance, I immediately caused a long queue at the airport’s automatic ticket gate by inserting the receipt instead of my ticket: how could you know which is which – it’s all written in Japanese! After a good night of sleep, I started my internship at the NII the next day, which was packed with activities: a tour of the 22-storey building, lunch with the other interns, getting set up in my office, and drinks with my coworkers.
During my stay I mostly worked on my own research project, which I had already started while at the University in Konstanz. Working on my project at the NII was a great experience for me for many reasons:

  • Both professors Akiko Aizawa and Bela Gipp, as well as Norman Meuschke, provided me with excellent feedback and support.
  • While at the NII, I could fully concentrate on my project and my research interests thanks to the great working environment provided at the NII and of course also due to the distance to my everyday life back in Germany.
  • Making new contacts was very easy in Tokyo. Not only did I meet other interns at the NII, but also many Japanese and other international people in the house in which I lived. In our leisure time, we did many activities in Tokyo and the surroundings. For a few days we even went to the more remote must-see spots in Japan, such as Kyoto, Okinawa and Hokkaido.

In conclusion this was a one-of-a-kind possibility that allowed me to obtain research experience in an international team, for which I also get paid. Additionally, Tokyo is a unique and exciting city, the people are very friendly and polite, and the country is beautiful.
10/10 points - highly recommended!