Literatures, Languages & Cultures

Meet our graduates: Zoë Vincent

Based in Fukushima City, Japan, Zoë graduated in 2015 with an MA Hons degree in Japanese Studies. She is Overseas Promotion Specialist at Fukushima Prefecture Tourism Association.

Having worked in various sectors in Japan, Zoë Vincent has taken on what The Telegraph posits as the ‘world’s toughest job’, promoting Fukushima Prefecture to tourists and international media.

Photo of Zoe Vincent
Zoë Vincent in Japan

She first experienced working in Japan on her undergraduate Year Abroad, when she completed an internship in Tokyo with the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan, and has since built up a range of experience across a variety of sectors, including working as an Assistant Language Teacher on the JET Programme, which connects English teachers with Japanese schools.

In her current role, as Overseas Promotion Specialist at Fukushima Prefecture Tourism Association, she works to redress the impact, on tourism, of the tsunami and subsequent nuclear disasters that placed Fukushima in the international spotlight in 2011, describing her responsibilities as “sharing accurate information about Fukushima Prefecture using social media channels (including her blog, Rediscover Fukushima), representing the prefecture at domestic and international events, supporting local accommodation facilities to enable them to feel confident in receiving tourists from abroad, and working with international media to get Fukushima in the news, among many others."

"It's motivating knowing that, no matter how small the steps I take, bit by bit, I am having a positive impact on the international image of Fukushima Prefecture. There is still so much to do, and it is challenging, but also exciting and endlessly rewarding. I have never felt unmotivated about my work."

Drawn to Edinburgh by the friendly atmosphere and variety of classes

Originally from Milton Keynes in England, Zoë was drawn to Edinburgh by “the unpressured, friendly atmosphere, which was quite different from what I had experienced at other universities.”

"When I came to visit the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) at Open Day, I really liked the fact that there was lots of choice of subjects as optional modules. It meant there was a lot of variety in the classes I had every week [and] many teachers with a range of expertise and teaching styles. Being able to get individualized teaching and advice, and hearing the experience and opinions of people with such a diverse range of academic passions made me realise the possibilities for my own future paths. I never would have got a chance to study Art History or Norwegian at University level if I hadn’t studied at LLC."

"I [also] wouldn’t have been able to get my current job if it wasn’t for the level of Japanese I managed to reach thanks to my studies and the support I received whilst writing my dissertation. In fact, apparently one of the things that most stood out in my job interview was when I spoke about my aspiration of writing research papers about Fukushima and becoming a lecturer in the future."

"Because my Japanese class was so small, it was really easy to get to know everyone in your department in every year, including postgraduate students. I had a lot of fun hanging out with this community of people at Japanese Society and other events."

'Be proactive and be passionate'

Reflecting on the advice she would give to those interested in studying Japanese, Zoë is a strong believer in making the most of opportunities.

"For those wanting to study Japanese, I would advise you to try and find fun ways to study, get a language partner who you get on with, and don’t beat yourself up about not feeling like you’re improving quickly. Most important of all, don’t compare your language levels to that of others! Just do the best you can, at your own pace, so you don’t get burnt out and lose your passion."

"It is difficult to find a job in Japan that isn’t English teaching, but there are options out there - you just have to search a bit to find them! I attended two job fairs, had seven interviews for different companies, and spent hours browsing sites like GaijinPot Jobs for potential jobs before being interviewed and receiving an offer to work in my organisation."

"Specifically, for those interested in tourism at a local government level in Japan, my advice is to travel as much as possible, get some experience working in a Japanese office, try to brush up your Japanese language, and be proactive about looking for opportunities and connecting with people in the industry, via sites like LinkedIn and networking events."

Are you interested in Japanese Studies at LLC?

We offer a comprehensive and rigorous Japanese language programme, coupled with diverse Japanese studies options taught by international experts. Our courses and staff are recognised for their innovative, high-quality teaching, with second year Japanese courses previously winning Best Course in the Edinburgh University Students' Association Teaching Awards. 

Find out more about studying undergraduate Japanese at LLC

Edinburgh is a good size of city, and has everything you could need. It’s easy to live in, with so many university clubs to join. I loved living close to the annual festivals such as Hogmanay and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – it made it feel like a really exciting place to live.

Zoë Vincent, Japanese Studies graduate

Related links

Follow Zoë's travels on her blog, Rediscover Fukushima

Read an interview with Zoë on The Telegraph website