Interview: On-the Job Training in Silicon Valley | YOSHIWATARI Shota (California, USA)
We talked to a GAC student, YOSHIWATARI Shota, about his overseas "On-the Job Training" education program.
Department: Applied Chemistry and Life Science
Year: 4th year undergraduate (at the training time)
Location: InfiniteBio Inc., Sunnyvale, California, USA
Period: January 4-February 23, 2019
Please tell us about your activities in the On-the Job Training.
InfiniteBio is a biotechnology company consulting and collaborating on technology development in Silicon Valley. In the On-the Job Training here, you can work on themes that are appropriate for your specialty.
My focus was "Classification of drug efficacy by logistic linear classifier". Fortunately, I was able to achieve good results in six weeks, using measures such as flexibly improving the program on the way and trying for more accurate classification using different algorithms. I felt I achieved a lot and that it was worth the effort because I could contribute to the company who were looking after me.
What was the atmosphere of the company where the On-the Job Training took place?
Actually, this was my first time to go abroad. The president of the training company was Japanese, and he was concerned about me settling in, so I felt good about being overseas for the first time.
As for the On-the Job Training, after the theme was given, the company let me proceed with the research my own way. I provided regular feedback and confirmed the work was proceeding well.
I worked in a shared office and sometimes had lunch with people working at the next desk. When I cooked rice with a rice cooker, people started commenting, saying that the rice smelled good. Shared offices are common in Silicon Valley.
Why did you decide to conduct your On-the Job Training overseas?
I had always wanted to go abroad, to leave Japan in order to experience a wide range of values, and meet different people, so the On-the Job Training was a very good opportunity.
In the GAC (Global Technology Architects Course) to which I belong, Japanese students generally conduct On-the Job Training overseas. I wanted to learn about cutting-edge technology in Silicon Valley, so I chose a company with a track record in my department.
What impressed you about the events in the United States?
Since this was my first time abroad, I was in trouble, because I didn't even know how to get from the airport. I downloaded the Uber app on the spot and managed to get to my accommodation. I was surprised that you could turn right at a red light.
Also, I wasn't confident about English, so when I was able to order my favorite drink at a Starbucks, I felt like I had overcome an obstacle. Before returning to Japan, I became more confident in talking with other people in English, such as talking to Uber drivers.
I found my room on Airbnb and shared it with two Germans. Sometimes we talked and my sharemates gave me some advice. I went to work by bus.
I participated in various events. I made VR games at an event that I learned through the Meetup app, for example, a game development meetup. I also participated in biotech events and visited farms.
You were active at TUT Global House. For example, you introduced "Slack" as a team IT leader. Did that experience help you in any way?
I suppose so. Living in a share house helped prepare my mind and I felt that I could cope with changes in my life style without being stressed. Then, in Silicon Valley, I started to try various things, but maybe my experience with Global House was the root.
Please tell us what you gained from this experience and your future aspirations.
In California, where many different people come, I encountered various values and ways of thinking, and gained confidence, broadened my horizons, and improved my motivation. Seeing amazing people taking on challenges, I felt like I could do something like them.
Of course, gaining knowledge and skills in data science was also a great asset.
There are some things I wanted to do, like staying for another 1-2 months, or going to the pitch contest, but all in all it was such a great experience.
I hope to provide services that will reduce agricultural instability in the future. I would like to make use of my experience in the United States in future research and business operations.