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SFU Alumni

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Ly Viet Vu recently completed his undergraduate degree in the field of Computing Science.  Ly shares how his term with Co-op Japan altered his career path and provided him the confidence to establish his own business in Vietnam. 

Initially I applied for Co-op Japan to experience life in a different culture and environment.  Living in Vancouver my whole life, I felt as if I was trapped in a box and I feared being stuck in Vancouver without ever exploring the world -- I just wanted to get out, like that movie, The Truman Show, starring Jim Carrey.  I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to go to Japan, which was the exciting part: the ability to let myself take a step into an entirely different world than the one I live in.

With Co-op Japan, I worked for J.Morita MFG Co., which designs and manufactures Dental and Medical Equipment.  My responsibilities were to develop custom software and firmware for external devices to communicate with a windows operating system.  Yes, with Co-op Japan, you are mainly there to work and gain work experience, but I took in much more from this adventure.  The most important thing that I got out of Co-op Japan was the life experience and lessons from living alone and having no security from family and friends.

Living in such an environment has helped me grow as a person and taught me how to be completely independent. Living in a country where their culture is different and the language is alien, can be overwhelming. It is inevitable to experience new emotions.  Feelings I would not have experienced, had I not stepped out on my own.  These emotions have helped me figure out what kind of person I really am and what I want in life. It has also made me a stronger person, mentally.

Prior to Co-op Japan I teamed up with long time friend, Justin Cohen, who is an extremely talented web designer working in the industry for the last seven years. He worked for two years at Blast Radius while instructing at BCIT for five years as a Motions Graphics and New Media Instructor. Together, we started a part-time web design & development company called Sofresh Inc., a strategic creative agency.  Our company, with a small-specialized team of talented and creative individuals, provides innovative ‘fresh’ solutions for our clients wishing to be uniquely marketed. From websites, to 3D visual effects and animations, we deliver customer experiences that turn our client’s investment into profit.  Upon arrival back in Vancouver after returning from Japan, we began to take our business much more seriously.  Our dedication to Sofresh Inc. gradually evolved into a full time opportunity.

I highly doubt that I would have had the courage to start a business with my partner Justin if I never had gone to Japan.  I probably would be working for some company building software.  The experience of picking up and leaving Vancouver to live in Japan was similar to taking the risk of starting your own company rather than working in a secure job.  In a way, I stepped into an entirely new world.

My experience with Co-op Japan has helped me to have the ability to pick up and go anywhere.  I was able to pack up and move to Vietnam to setup a development team for our company.  The experiences from Co-op Japan helped me muster enough faith and motivation to meet IT people in Vietnam, find my own office in Vietnam and manage my own personal affairs in Vietnam.  Luckily, I did not have the same language barrier as in Japan but the culture shock, feelings and emotions were there.  However, this time I was prepared and knew what to expect of myself.  It was much easier to take that giant step to move forward with my life.

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