Jingjing Lin, Assistant Professor, Toyohashi University of Technology
16 August 2021
In order to help current students and recent graduates to find their way in the working world, many of our alumni shared their career story. Here the story of Jingjing Lin, Assistant Professor at the Toyohashi University of Technology in Toyohashi (Japan). USI Degree: PhD in Communication, 2018.
How did you start your career?
After my graduation, I ran my own startup inside CP-Startup incubator in Lugano. It failed to lead me where I thought I was heading to. However, it inspired my research interest in entrepreneurship education as a topic. From an informal conversation with another PHD student from Informatics in Mensa, I knew that SNSF publishes funding calls to support new doctoral graduates. I browsed the website and there I found JSPS international postdoctoral fellowship application call. I decided to give it a try.
With years' first-hand experience of being an entrepreneur, I knew what troubled me and wanted to explore solutions. It took me one month to prepare the research proposal, found a host professor at Kyoto Univeristy, and submitted the application to SNSF. After two-month waiting, I received the grant approval letter. I arrived at Kyoto Univeristy and had experienced very supportive, friendly, and inspiring environment enabled by my host professor and fellow colleagues. The fellowship was two years' duration. I decided to prolong my life in Japan with a longer term contract as a full-time faculty. I started applying for faculty job half year into the fellowship. I landed on this job offer after two job applications.
Why did you choose a career at Toyohashi University of Technology?
It was quite aligned with my background in eLearning and doesn't require a high level of Japanese at work. I was pretty lucky really to find this job vacancy at a national university in Japan. In fact without a good level of Japanese language, job options are very limited. So to be honest, I was merely trying my luck like with JSPS fellowship. Eventually they made the decision to choose me.
What is your current role/duties?
I am a assistant professor without teaching duties and my main role is to conduct research on open education, entrepreneurship education, and eLearning. I also provide support to teachers regarding their using technologies to teach online and offline.
In your opinion, what are the qualities necessary for a successful career at the Toyohashi University of Technology?
There are a plenty. Speaking Japanese will definitely be helpful. Being creative is also a must have quality. Willingness to take on the leadership role in project and understand how to manage and finish a project. Ability to establish international infrastructure and initiate conversations. Ability to pick up new topics to research as long as they fit the urgent needs of the university.
What positive aspects and qualities meant most to you during the study programme you attended?
I had to work on a 80% contract when doing PHD at USI. The job was very demanding and I couldn't have enough time to give full attention to my full professional development as a young researcher. But the fact that I had to juggle balls between work, research, startup planning, and my personal life trained me well for time management, project management, and ability to push forward when things get tough.
What competences and/or skills acquired in your USI Study Program have been useful/are useful to your professional career?
The foremost skill is project management. I was put in charge of pushing forward the pilot MOOC project at USI that involves different collaborators and stakeholders. It was literally my first in-university project manager role. Now I am fully managing different research projects and campus-based practice project. And I am still learning more at work to improve my project management skills.
What is your advice to USI students entering the job market?
You do not have to restrict yourself to one city, one province, or one nation. Besides shooting CV around, you should go around to attend events, sit in Mensa, update your social networking accounts to indicate that you are available to be hired. In short, you need to find your ways to reach your weak link contacts. It has been tested and verified over and over by many people including myself: your next step starts with conversation with weak link contacts.