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Life after B.A.

Having completed their undergraduate level education at Stanford University, our undergrads are equipped with the necessary skills to tackle various interests: some students choose to continue academia and pursue a masters or doctoral program at other universities, while others prefer to travel and work abroad in East Asia. Below are some anecdotes from students whom we have heard from after graduation. If you are an alum who majored or minored in one of our undergraduate programs, we would love to hear from you! Please email Cyril Millendez, Student Services Manager, or complete our alumni survey to update us.

See the careers of our alumni

Student in front of flags

Photo courtesy of David Jaffe

David Jaffe, B.A. in East Asian Studies, (Honors) '21

"The East Asian Studies degree is a fantastic way to dive in-depth into the challenges facing the Asia-Pacific. It offers the opportunities that degrees in IR offer but the sense of community and individualized attention of a small department. I now feel prepared to do anything in the international policy space."

— David Jaffe, '21

Post-graduation plans: Stanford Law School

Katrin Larsen, B.A. in East Asian Studies, Japan Subplan (Honors) '11

When I came to Stanford I was passionately interested in learning more about Japan - the language, culture, and history, and I was able to explore all of these areas through East Asian Studies. In addition to the variety of courses available, I also had the opportunity to study abroad in Kyoto. Additionally, I was able to intern with two different Japanese companies in Tokyo to learn more about the Japanese working environment and develop my business Japanese language skills. These incredible opportunities later lead to my taking a full time position at one of the companies and being able to work in Tokyo immediately after graduation. While I had aimed to go live and work in Japan as an adult from when I was in middle school, it was incredible to finally realize that dream. Not only did I learn a great deal about Japanese working culture and communication methods from my job, I also got to eat delicious food and travel all over Japan and other parts of Asia while doing so. After building up that experience, I moved back to the Bay Area and was able to utilize my Japanese communication skills and cultural knowledge to help that same company with cross-cultural communication in their San Francisco office. Now I am pursuing an MA in Translation and Interpretation in Japanese at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. My hope is to further develop both my Japanese and my cross-cultural communication skills to continue to be a bridge of understanding between Japan and the United States.

Lindsay M. Gibbon, B.A. in Japanese (Honors) '06

As a Stanford freshman, I adored my Japanese class. It was fun to stretch myself intellectually, deciphering kanji and finding creative ways to express myself in spite of my novice vocabulary. Most of all, it was a joy to come to class and spend time with dedicated teachers and inspiring classmates. By the end of the year, I knew I wanted to major in Japanese, but I had some doubts. What if I couldn't get a job with a humanities degree? Fortunately, my Stanford experience helped me find my path in a way that I couldn't have predicted. After graduation, I got a job at the Ehime University School of Medicine, where I spent the next few years teaching English language classes for physicians and medical students. During this time, not only was I able to polish my Japanese skills, but I had the precious chance to become a part of a community on the other side of the world. I spent many evenings chatting with friends around the dinner table -- doctors, secretaries, school teachers, sake brewers, architects, preschool kids, musicians, and housewives. I even joined the local Shitsukawa softball team. It was a fantastic opportunity to connect with all sorts of different people and learn what makes them tick. I didn't realize how valuable this experience would be until I started my internal medicine residency several years later. As a physician, it doesn't matter how much you know if you aren't able to assess where your patient is coming from and explain their condition in a way that they can understand. My experiences in the Stanford Japanese department helped me to develop the communication skills and adaptability that I needed to grow as a physician.

Nate Shockey, B.A. in Japanese '04

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that studying Japanese at Stanford has determined the course of my life. I'm currently an Assistant Professor of Japanese at Bard College in upstate New York, where I teach courses on Japanese literature, language, and culture. At Stanford, I decided that I liked my professors in the department so much that I wanted to try and see if I could get a job like theirs! Lots of grad school later, I've achieved that goal.

Although I had studied some Japanese in high school and participated in a summer exchange program, I started out in First Year Japanese Language, Culture and Communication. I kept going through the sequence while taking literature and culture classes with Profs. Matsumoto, Reichert, and Carter, and spent a year abroad in Kyoto through the KCJS program. At the time, I never thought that ten years later I might be back in Kyoto running a study abroad program myself.

After graduating and working for a little while, I began a PhD program in Modern Japanese Literature at Columbia. Grad school was intense and challenging, but exhilarating, and after finishing my dissertation on 20th century print media and urban space, I was lucky enough to get a position at a small liberal arts college. I teach students their first words in Japanese, give classes on all my favorite works of Japanese literature and art, work with seniors on translation projects, and lots more. Maybe some of you will become our colleagues someday!

Chieze Okoye, B.A.S in Computer Science & Japanese '03, M.A. in East Asian Studies '06

My name is Chieze Okoye and I currently work as a Game Producer at DeNA West, the western subsidiary of DeNA, one of the biggest mobile game makers in Japan. Immediately out of Stanford, I took a job at the US Market Access Center, a business incubator in San Jose for foreign corporations looking to expand into the United States. A major focus of my work at that time was in helping Japanese businesses specifically, leveraging my language and cultural experience as a tool to bridge the gap for those companies looking to enter the US. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to try for something else, and I came across an opportunity at DeNA Global, DeNA’s then headquarters of its western business. I entered as a Customer Acquisition Specialist (buying and managing ads for our games and social network), but as the team was very small at the time, I had to wear many hats, including product-managing games that DeNA was producing -- both original games and ones imported from DeNA in Japan. In that role I was able to use my Japanese experience quite frequently, since there were always meetings with our colleagues in Japan. Eventually DeNA bought the American smartphone game company ngmoco:) and unified all of their “outside of Japan” businesses as DeNA West, which is where I work now. Looking back, it is very clear that my Japanese major played an integral role in my career path up to now -- a path that I am very happy to be working along -- and I am confident that it will continue to play a major part going forward.

Leslie Yeh, B.A. in East Asian Studies '03

I graduated with a degree in East Asian Studies in 2003, with a focus on Japanese language, literature and history, and I spent a year abroad in Kyoto. I continued on to law school with hopes of working on cross-border transactions with Japanese companies and spent a portion of my second year summer internship in Tokyo, where I worked on M&A and capital markets matters. That sort of work was not in the cards for me, however, and I ended up working on commercial and structured finance transactions at a large law firm in New York for five years. I then moved back to the Bay Area, where I joined the debt finance group at another law firm for two more years before finally taking a break to raise my daughter.

Even though I did not end up doing the type of work that I thought I would do when I was an undergraduate student, my background in Japanese studies has still been useful. I found that it gave me access to a community of people in the business world with similar backgrounds who were all very excited to talk about our collective experiences. It was also a detail that my interviewers seemed to want to discuss the most and that made my resume stand out more than if I had chosen a more conventional pre-law major. Finally, on a different note, if it is true that law school and legal practice have and will teach me everything I need to know about being a lawyer (and so far that has been the case for me), I am happy that I pursued a course of study at Stanford that I was truly passionate about.