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The “Vulcanus in Japan Programme”

Here I will talk a little more about the “Vulcanus” program. There is a lot written in almost all EU languages ​​about this program, and certainly I am not going to contribute with anything new that is not already included on their official website, so I will refer you to your search in google and wikipedia. But still, I will give a brief presentation and my opinion:

The program consists of a one-year stay in Japan. The year is divided into four months of intensive study of the Japanese language in Naganuma School (Shibuya, Tokyo) about 5~6 hours each day starting at 9:00h, from Monday to Friday, and later 8 months working as an intern researcher in Japanese company at full-time (~8 hours). It is provided to you an accommodation by the host company for the entire stay; some companies are hundreds of kilometers from Tokyo, which is the reason that a temporary accommodation is provided during the course of Japanese, moving after the end of the course to a nearby workplace accommodation; other exception are those who have their workplace in Tokyo, their accommodation may be close to the workplace, but far from the language school (up to 1 hour and a half in train, or more … if you’re not lucky). The accommodation is free in itself, though perhaps there are payable invoices as light, water, or cleaning, depending on whether the company takes care of these bills, or not (usually the company takes over them). The current economic scholarship to date has 1,900,000 JPY (Japanese Yen), and that’s a fortune. Thus you should cover your living expenses, such as transport tickets, meals, clothes, electronic gadgets, various hobbies, travel … . This money is distributed throughout the year at installments of different intervals of time.

No doubt, Vulcanus is one of the biggest jewels in the crown of the scholarships and programs (together with CERN and some more), regardless of the destination. Each year, nearly 1,000 students apply from across all Europe, resulting fortunate among those about 10~50 students, depending on the year. It is open to college education and postgraduate, but as a requirement is to be in the last year.

Perhaps some dear reader will ask himself, [DRAMATIZATION ON] “Why Japan?, there are earthquakes, radiation, typhoons, volcanoes, giant godzilla sized cockroaches … Isn’t better to stay here? And without mentioning the Japanese language, with many strange symbols that no one understands them. Is it worth it? Is not enough to just play Pokemon here?”.[DRAMATIZATION OFF] And I will always answer with an absolute, “Yes.” And not only because of Japan being the destination country, is it more because this is a “one in life” opportunity offered by the program, one of those opportunities that do not show up again.

In Japan, despite the harshness of the land on which the Japanese live, it is generally considered that they have the most gregarious and civic values ​​that can asked from society, which is an example in many aspects, and less in others. Japan is a technologically advanced country, so, for an engineer/tech lover/geek, it is a paradise. Not to mention a culture, and entertainment industry, which are distinctive features that are not found elsewhere in the world.

The opportunity to study and work there is unique, and the “Vulcanus” program will provide it to all those who meet the requirements and have a great deal of luck. As a living example I can assure you that they are not just looking for spotless academy records (my average grade in engineering is 7.0/10.0 points), or an abroad experience (I did an internship in a company in my city) … many participants agree that your motivation and ability to reflect it in the motivation letter to the centre and the company decides everything. Although I must say that everything counts, the presentation/appearance of the documents, language certificates, academic record, experience abroad or work, activities to highlight, and properly exposing yourself and your qualities, values ​​and desires in the motivation letter. All this goes through two filters;

  1. Shortlisting by the EUJapan Centre (“Center” from now on): Of the thousands of applications that arrive each year, the Centre is responsible for selecting an undetermined number of candidates for each available position. Open positions vary each year, so one year there may be many positions for chemical or telecommunications engineers, and none for aeronautical or architects for example, so if you are unlucky a year, try again for better luck. The documentation to provide is a form in excel format and one in word (available on the website of the program to be filled in), a medical certificate, transcript of records, a letter of recommendation from a teacher or employer, resume, a University certificate showing the types of numerical and written scores used in the university system (ie: “Passed 5.0 – Approved,” etc.), and finally a motivation letter addressed to the selection committee from the center (on the latter I’ll talk more in depth in another post). Shortly before the deadline for submitting the documents, a file is uploaded on the Vulcanus website with a list of positions/companies who have given permission to be released to the public, so you can select a position as a suggestion for the committee (As they will consider your application for a certain number of positions that they select taking into account your profile, so you can suggest a position that may not be considered by them)
  2. Selection by the company: In mid-February, the outcome of the shortlisting is reported. Being shortlisted means you’re one between 100~150 lucky ones who can apply for the scholarship. The centre usually recommended to the shortlisted person a position of the existing ones. You can accept the position that recommends the centre or choose another, chossing it form a file with the actual list of participating companies with all the positions.  One position for your first choice and a secondary in case the first option was covered by another person. Once you have chosen your positions, within one week should be sent to the center the motivation letter that will be given to the selection committee of the company. Being the company the one doing the last selection. The responses from the companies for the first round selection are usually received during the month of April, if after the first round remain unfilled positions (Whether that no one applied to them, or that the company rejected all candidates), a second selection round will be carried out.

So I recommend you that it if you apply, do not leave the paperwork for the last days!

I recommend you to visit the unofficial Vulcanus program forum, where all necessary information is, and where you can formulate any questions regarding the program.