Thursday, May 30, 2013

履歴書 Challenge #1: 学歴 American Undergraduate Information

One of the first challenges I am facing now is writing a Japanese 履歴書. From what I gather, this matters a great deal. Unlike the free-flowing format of American CVs, the 履歴書 has a strict formula from which deviation is unwise. In fact, it has its own JIS standard template (meaning it has an ISO-like rigidity in the format). Thus, there are thousands of copies of similar files online. Many of the first few I tried did funking things with kerning and what not. Document formatting is broadly a lost art for the Japanese. Here's one:

But the challenge I want to write about is entering American academic information in your 履歴書. Here, the problem is that American universities and Japanese universities are structured quite differently. A Japanese undergraduate student has a 大学, a 学部, a 専攻, and a 学科 all of which have a particular meaning. While my Japanese friends translate these as their university, faculty, major, and specialization, it may be better to think of the 学部 as a college in the sense of the "college of arts and sciences" in American-style university. Alas, those of you who can count will recognize there are four things there.

In writing a U.S. CV, we generally specify only two university and major, i.e. just two things. Perhaps in rare cases, people will state the name of their college within the university, but this is broadly not done and comes across strangely. Further complicated things, I did a dual major as an undergraduate student. This is not possible in a normally structured Japanese university. The reason is that you join a faculty (学部) as a 二年生 or upon entry into university. You then pick a 専攻 within that faculty. And as a third year student you join a lab (研究室) or [professor's] seminar (ゼミ) and the research focus of that will be your 学科. Consequently, it makes no sense in a Japanese university to have two majors since your central work will be from one professor in a particular specialization of a particular major.

Thus, I face two problems: (1) I have only two things to write in four spaces and (2) I need to write two things in one space all at once. I have an undergraduate degree in Chemistry and Philosophy -- not a hybridization but two legitimate full majors as these are understood in American university. I spoke with a friend earlier today who suggested that I do the following to explain this:

平成11 9 ○○○ 文学部哲学学科 入学 
平成15 5 ○○○ 文学部哲学学科 卒業
平成15 5 同上 科学部化学学科 卒業

I will update if that is not correct. But the solution he suggested worded simply is this, write each major on a separate line for graduation. And this is accurate. In my case, I first selected philosophy and then added chemistry (even though that was my plan all along).

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