Echoes - Empowerment for the future

Rakuten always conducts social contribution activities with diverse participants such as employees, local governments and NPOs. The "Echoes" series focuses on those participants' stories that resonate in their heart.

vol. 02 - "Rakuten IT School National Championship" x Tanabe Ayumi, Domestic Sales Department of Rakuten Travel

The charm of IT business revealed by the evolution of students

Rakuten IT School National Championship: to name the best school of Japan among 67

The eyes of about 500 people are staring at the main screen. There are only 12 tickets to the finals. And the name of the school which made it through the preliminary rounds and will get the last ticket is about to be announced. The shouts of joy of female high school students are suddenly resonating in the big event hall. Ayumi nods slightly while looking at the name of the school on the screen.

On the 13th of January 2017, 64 out of the 67 schools which joined the “Rakuten IT School” that year gathered in Hall A, Tokyo Midtown East. For the 9th year, merchants, hoteliers, schools and Rakuten are collaborating to conduct this program, which teaches the possibilities of the Internet to high school students. During one year and 8 lectures, the students learn about online retail and finally gather in Tokyo to give a presentation at the "Rakuten IT School National Championship".

The rules of the "Rakuten IT School National Championship" are simple. One team from each school gets to make a presentation about their accomodation or product retail plan, as studied in class, and about their e-commerce webpage, in front of a panel of professionals - merchants and hoteliers. The 12 teams which receive the highest evaluation during the preliminary rounds give one more time their presentation on the main stage, in order to name the best team of the country. The last school which was called to access the final round this time was the school that Ayumi was in charge of.

What it means to be a lecturer of "Rakuten IT School"

Ayumi Tanabe. She joined Rakuten Travel in April 2008. After working for the same department for about 6 years, she left the company to become a real estate agent in the travel industry, a field that she was already interested in as a student. She has a unique career trajectory as, after realizing once again the importance of customer attraction over the Internet, she decided to re-enter Rakuten. She is currently an Internet Travel Consultant (ITC) in charge of helping hoteliers of the Niigata area increase their customer attraction and boost their sales.

Being a lecturer was a first for Ayumi. But it was also a first for the school that she was in charge of, to be part of Rakuten IT School, and a first for the hotelier with whom they created accomodation plans. When the three partners started their journey together, they felt nervous and awkward. "During the first class, my voice and legs were shaking", she remembers. But over time, the questions of the students became more frequent. And during the summer holidays of the school, the hotelier invited the students to visit places that they would normally not see, such as the suite rooms for example. Seeing the students changing and becoming progressively more serious about the program made Ayumi feel happy.

The results of the finals are now revealed. The 7 special prizes, 3rd and 2nd positions have already been announced, only the winning school is to be named. The tension in the hall has reached its maximum. Ayumi must have her students in the back of her mind and remember the moment of the preliminary round result announcement. But the name of that school that was finally called was not hers.

"When I look back at my experience as a lecturer", Ayumi said, "I think I was able to convey the difficulty of attracting customers online and the joy of having a lot of people looking at the plans we create ourselves." She is considering being a lecturer again next year. In order to show the challenges and pleasure that make the charm of her job she is passionate about.

About "Rakuten IT School"

"Rakuten IT School" which is held every year since 2008, is an e-commerce program carried out by three parties : "Rakuten Ichiba merchants / Rakuten Travel hoteliers" × "schools" × "Rakuten". The "Rakuten IT School National Championship" is the peak of that program, where representative teams of each school from all over Japan meet and compete for the best presentation about their retail pages. The 2016 edition of "Rakuten IT School" was the 9th one and gathered the participation of 67 high schools, or 1,937 students total.

On the 13th of January 2017, high school students who participated in the National Championship gathered in Tokyo Midtown. The preliminary rounds were held early morning, divided into 5 groups.

Preliminary rounds. Representative teams of each school practiced hard for their presentations which include creative performances and PowerPoint. Rakuten Ichiba merchants and Rakuten Travel hoteliers were asked to be the judges.

Preliminary round result announcement. Only 12 teams from the 64 will reach the finals. The annoucement of each school name was punctuated by shouts of joy.

The winning team of the National Championship 2016 was "Kirishima-shi Kokubu Central High School x Diaper cake & baby celebration Coco Laga". 2nd prize: "Shinsengakuin High School × Scalp & Skin Care YOU". 3rd prize: "Ishikawa Prefectural Kanazawa Commercial High School x dental clinic monopoly".

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