Yuzuha Oka

Working globally-Interview with Mr. Nishida from the World Bank        

Mr. Ippei Nishida

Mr. Ippei Nishida

Having hard time finding job in Japan? Then, how about working globally?

Working at an international organization is surely one of the options. However, do you have an idea of what you should do to work in an international agency? On 7th January, 2013, I had a wonderful chance to interview Mr. Ippei Nishida, who works at The World Bank in Washington D.C. Let me share this precious experience with you. Listen to his advice for those who are interested in working for international organizations.

*This interview is based on his individual opinion, and is not to represent the opinion of The World Bank.

What is your job?

“I write research papers on microfinance (small loans for people with low income). One of the goals of my job is to measure the effectiveness of microfinance and to provide sufficient data and analysis toward people who are committed to political decision-making. Many people would understand that microfinance is useful and effective for the poor who have difficulties in borrowing money using formal financial services. However, it is still unclear whether microfinance has absolute positive impacts on the lives for poor people. Research and academic papers suggest this issue is still being debated. My job is to provide objective opinion or evidence using specific figures and analyses such as ‘Impact Evaluation (IE)’, which can be a tool for decision-making by people who are involved in the microfinance business such as local governors or entrepreneurs in developing countries.”

Is there anything you did when you were a college student which is particularly useful now?

“Reading books. I read many books when I was in university. Although I cannot remember all of the content, I can at least remember “which books teach what”.

When I want some information or knowledge, then what comes into my mind is that “Oh, I have read about this somewhere in that book!” Then I read the books again, and gain the wanted information or knowledge. As I have read the book once, it is much faster to access knowledge compared to studying it from scratch.

Also, books can sometimes be inspirational. One of the reasons I became interested in my research field is a book called The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time by Jeffrey David Sachs.”

What was difficult getting a job at The World Bank?

“Many talented people try to get a job in international organizations. I thought it would be quite tough to compete with those excellent people by only applying for job openings posted on our website. I think connection with people working in those international organizations is very important. At my graduate school, there were many professors who have experienced working in international organizations such as the World Bank. I made great effort to maintain good relationships with them, and I asked them to show my CV (a personal history) directly to a ranking officer when a position became vacant. Of course, it is also extremely important to develop and appeal my abilities and skills. However again, if you just compare abilities and skills, there are countless candidates who are superior to me. Thus, in my opinion, the most important thing was to consider how my CV can be seen by as many directors as possible. My answer was not to compete with other smart and qualified applicants, but to jump over them.”

 What do you like about working at The World Bank?

“One of the advantages in working at The World Bank is that I can talk to many people whom I would have difficulty encountering if I were just a normal student or office worker in Japan. Some are from private sector, some are from government. For example, you have not so many opportunities to talk with bureaucrats when you are in Japan, right? But here, it is easier to get to know those great and respectful people. I also find it interesting to talk with people from various countries and backgrounds.

What’s more, I like what I do as a job; doing research and providing objective data and analysis. Compared to developed countries, developing countries have room for growth. I like watching the dynamic economic development in a high speed.”

Any advice for those who want to work in international organizations?

“In my opinion, please do NOT select “International~” as a major without any particular reason (“nanto-naku”, in Japanese).

Some people choose to major in “International relations” or “International politics” just because these subjects seem to be suitable for working in international organizations. However, that is not the case. I think the most important thing is to have a specialty.

When there is a vacant position, people with a specialty tend to get the position. This is because those people are expected to have an expertise and to be an immediate asset. Rather than studying broadly, I believe it is more effective to gain deep knowledge in some specific field. Plus, it must be more interesting to study in a particular field you like than in broad or abstract subjects.”

There are three things we, university students,  can do from today.

1. Read books.

2. Maintain good relationship with people.

It is more likely for university students to spend time with their friends, but making good connection with professors is also worthwhile.

3. When you choose your major, make sure to choose the field you like; find your specialty.

At the University of Tokyo, there is a system called “Shingaku Furiwake“, Late Specialization. I would like to bare this advice in mind when choosing a major in my sophomore year.

After all, Mr. Nishida’s advice is not only for those who want to get a job in international organizations, but can be applied to all university students. Keep these tips in mind, and you can broaden your job opportunity, even worldwide.


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