Student Blog

Internship at a Venture Builder in Japan as a First-year Student

5min read

About me

I am Zoey from Vietnam, currently a second-year student intending to major in Accounting and Finance.
In this bog post, I'll share my internship experience.

How did I land this internship and what are the requirements?

I was in the summer break before my third semester when I received a recruitment notice from APU Startup Program about Venture Life Challenge. APU is a cooperating university for Kyushu University's Next Generation Entrepreneur Development Program, so APU students are eligible to participate and apply for this program.

This annual 2-week program by QREC Office at Kyushu University matches students with emerging startups in the Kyushu area to provide hands-on experience working in Japan. I applied for Reapra Japan, a venture builder in Southeast Asia and Japan, working mainly with 3 other fellow students from linguistics and engineering majors, Mr. Yasuhiko Watanabe – an HR expert from Tokyo, and Ms. Priscilla Han – our Head of Investment from Singapore.

This program is entirely in English, and you only need to submit a resume and fill in the simple recruitment form. You can always apply regardless of your major or year of study.

How is the reality of the experience compared to initial expectations?

Hollywood paints interns as stressed-out and belittled college students getting coffee and running errands all day. Not only was I not treated with trivial tasks, but I had a skyful of freedom and autonomy to research my assignments and come up with my own output at the end of each day. I felt included in my learning process as everyone streamlined our meetings with care so that all of us could keep up and encouraged us to ask questions anytime outside of the sessions.

We spent half a week to familiarize ourselves with the concept of venture builder and Reapra philosophy through trainings and sharing sessions from Ms. Priscilla Han. Afterwards, due to the short timeframe, my scope of work primarily focused on PR and sourcing strategies for Reapra to potential founders and early startups. Basically, it is to understand our target audience and entrepreneurship trends in SEA and Japan and brainstorm specific campaigns or ideas to increase media presence and attract and collect a database of entrepreneurs with or even without a product.

What did I learn from Reapra philosophy and operations?

Reapra is far from my first internship, yet it is undoubtedly one of the most unique experiences. My background is Vietnamese, where we are very money-driven when it comes to doing business. With that mindset, I was very skeptical at Reapra. Reapra is a venture builder, meaning it values the human side of a founder or startup rather than mere quantitative performance on the financials. The lunch chat with Ms. Priscilla was eye-opening and changed my perspective a lot. She asked us many strange “why” questions about our behaviors then explained that this was to understand our intrinsic personality and motivations, which are mostly developed through our childhood and past experiences. The selection process at Reapra is also the same. What do you think is the problem with capitalism nowadays? Does it increase the disparity between rich and poor? Reapra approaches the question with an intriguing perspective: companies in decades ago were built to last, not startups now only focus on instant growth to solve current problems and burn out fast. Reapra believes that this is not the sustainable way to do business. Therefore, it goes through 5-7 rounds of interviews to make sure it understands deeply the founders' intrinsic values and motivations through their past, present, and future, then stick with the startups for a long period of 6-10 years to co-create lasting industries.

More than just business comprehension, this internship showed me the blind spots in my thinking and behaviors. On the last day, I confessed my guilt for taking too much of their time training me while I could not generate any considerable results within 2 weeks. Ms. Priscilla told me, "The founders always asked us: why did we give so much, why did we spend 6 months with them without gaining any money? Maybe that is just who we are." I came to this internship with the mindset that I must be the one to contribute more by putting hard labor on the table. This “ego” is not bad, but it narrows my way of thinking. In fact, by me getting confused about what exactly Reapra is doing, I helped the team reflect on whether they should be clearer in communications to external parties. Moreover, my cultural perspective as a Vietnamese gave them valuable insights to the market.


This program sparked my passion for the startup ecosystem in Japan. I realized that I love to work in a dynamic and constantly evolving environment while leveraging my numerical skills and knowledge as a Finance major.

* Please note that the program content may vary depending on the recruitment year.

Do Ngoc Minh Thu
Do Ngoc Minh Thu

Hi! This is Zoey from Viet Nam. I’m an Accounting & Finance student from APM, and am very passionate about numbers but also writing and talking to many different people. I have been writing blogs for 4 years and I am so excited to continue writing more insightful and personal content at APU. Please look forward to my work!

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