Either through hard work, sheer luck or perhaps lack of it, depending on your point of view, I find myself the Chairman of a 650 member strong network called the Young Chamber Network.
An interview was done for the homepage of The Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Tokyo (www.sccj.org) and it can be viewed in full here.
Just in case they ever decide to remove it here is the text in full.
Founded in 1995 as the SCCJ’s youth organization, the Young Chamber Network (YCN) gives young people with a Swedish connection free-of-charge opportunities to socialize in Japan while also connecting talent with the Swedish business community. On Facebook, its main mode of communication besides Twitter, it has well over 600 members – and counting. We asked Kristoffer Kullengren, YCN’s 6th Chairman, why it is the place to get linked.
1. Suppose I am Swedish, young and talented, and has just arrived in Japan. If I come to the YCN, can you help me find a job and a partner?
People come to Japan for many reasons, of course. Take students, for example. For them our monthly Little Saturday at Legato in Shibuya is a great place to make friends to enjoy the city with, get in contact with headhunters and, if lucky, find a partner. However, our Facebook page, where jobs are posted, might be a better place to look for a job than an actual event.
2. Would it be correct to describe the YCN as an integrated job and dating network?
In Japan, you will find many international “make-friends-parties” that are mostly about dating. There are also lots of professional career networking events. I don’t see us as any of those. We are a community about Sweden that also adds value in those areas. When you meet new people, there is always that nice boy/girl that you keep an eye out for. Maybe you run into someone here who wants to start a company with you. If such results come out of the socializing and networking, we are very happy.
3. Can you give an example of how a YCN member found a job through you?
Take our friend Anton. He found an internship at one of the Swedish companies in Japan. At an event he talked to YCN members who had been here for 5 or 6 years, and heard about an internship offered via the Embassy website. We don’t have all the answers, but we do have a lot of people with a lot of experience that can point you in the right direction.
4. What kind of events has the YCN done so far?
Well, I mentioned our monthly event at Legato earlier. That event is young and professional. People come straight after work. They’re classy and fun people; not the average drinking crowd, but still not too strict. We have a Swedish language cafe where you can learn Swedish. We also celebrate Christmas and Midsummer, a Swedish holiday. 120 people came this year to our Midsummer’s party – our biggest event so far. We danced around a big maypole in Yoyogi Park and played a Viking game called kubb.
5. As the chairman of the YCN, what are your long-term plans for the community?
Our motto is to be useful and fun. Doing fun socializing events is easy, but in the future I would like the useful events to be more Sweden-related. Networking events can easily become a group of professionals that gather and drink without having any Swedish relation. This is why we set up the Swedish language cafe. It’s the useful part that I believe in and would like to work on. The next step is to keep the Midsummer and Christmas events growing. Overall, I would like a broader range of events that at the same time stay Swedish, while being careful to not scare people away with too much Swedish culture. It’s important to find the right balance.
6. What do you think makes the YCN network special?
The YCN network is special in the way it is connected to the Swedish Embassy and the Swedish business community in Japan. If you want to use it to your advantage, to find work or perhaps learn about Sweden, there is a clear path available. If you do not, and you only want to have some fun, that’s fine too.
For more information on the YCN, please see www.ycn.net or search for YCN on Facebook.