25 Sep Discovering South Korean Culture: Internship Journey
Stepping into the working world can be a daunting move for students as they begin to transition from the familiarity of school and a classroom. This step, though not necessary, can prove to be extremely beneficial in the long run of a career, and can allow future professionals an extreme step up from their peers as they already have experience. Why not maximize benefits? Pairing a transformative internship, with international travel, can maximize the learning potential of the intern, allowing them to grow as a person and a professional all in one experience. Deep dive with us on what you might expect to uncover, culturally, during your internship in South Korea.
Why South Korea?
First off, why should one even choose to intern in South Korea to begin with? South Korea has long been thought of as an epicenter for business, as well as a global tech hub. They are also known for advancements in electronics, robotics, and telecommunications. Interns in fields such as engineering, IT, and digital marketing will gain hands-on experience with all of the latest methodologies here. But these advancements aren’t the only reason for an internship in South Korea. The combination of both old and new, modern and historic are huge elements to South Korea’s heritage and make it the beauty that it is today. From traditional hanbok attire to historical palaces and temples, the country offers a blend of old world and modern charm. Folded into the traditional hanok homes, are Seoul’s skyscraper lined skies, allowing eager interns to truly see the contrast, and witness just how far this country has grown. South Korea allows for an adventure in culture while also growing interns background in business in one of the globe’s major centers for economic development.
First off, it is important when preparing to live in another country, to learn about what is normal and considered common socially. South Korea is an extremely hospitable and friendly country. Visitors can expect to be greeted warmly here. Locals are often very eager to share their traditions and culture with newcomers, so no worries at all about making friends! Similar to the workplace, there is a focus on group friendships and group oriented activities, as well as a healthy appreciation for nightlife. The nightlife in South Korea, especially in cities like Seoul, is extremely popular and vibrant. If you’re old enough and interested, consider taking part in this scene and utilizing it to meet more locals!
Pro-tip: Gift giving is a huge part of social culture in South Korea and is a common way of showing gratitude and maintaining social bonds. Before you leave your summer internship in South Korea, make sure to give something small to those who had a great impact on you. Not only will they love it, but they will also deeply appreciate your adherence to their social cues and culture.
Your internship in South Korea will be a masterclass on really involving yourself in South Korean culture. You’ll notice that they hold hierarchy and collaboration in a higher regard than we do in the West. Seniority is given a high value, as well as showing respect for seniority. Junior employees are expected to show their superiors that they hold their utmost regard. Both the way you speak and act as an intern can greatly convey this level of respect. Your ability to mind your manners in the workplace will greatly impact your performance and how you are viewed by leadership. No cursing or swearing here! While the workplace culture in the West has relaxed in past years, for your internship in South Korea it is imperative that you act as professionally as possible. Make sure to dress professionally as well, since South Koreans generally are quite formal in the workplace.
It’s also important to note that unity is a central belief among South Korea workplaces. As an intern you are not just a cog in the wheel. Instead, you’re going to be on a team that values shared efforts and pulling your own weight for the good of all. Unlike the West, South Koreans don’t try to stand out as an individual as much as they try to homogenize with the overall group. Additionally, with all of the teamwork mentality, you are likely to spend some time outside of work with your colleagues. Work related social events and gatherings are common. This can be a great excuse to learn more about South Korean culture during your internship, by getting the locals to show you what they do for fun!
Overall Country Culture
South Korea is a hodgepodge of both modern and traditional beauty, with its bustling cities like Seoul, and its traditional architecture in places like Bukchon Hanok Village. This dynamic will prove to be extremely inspiring as you witness the mashup of the two. A deeply creative country, South Korea has all sorts of murals, exhibits and even community based events such as festivals. Cherry Blossoms arrive in Spring and with them, they bring many celebrations thanking the planet for another winter passed. The Lotus Lantern Festival is another crowd favorite that really displays the essence of South Korean life. As an intern, you must take part in and witness these festivities as you’ll forge connections with those around you, as well as deepen your own cultural understanding.
The personal journey you are sure to embark on during your internship in South Korea will have a lifelong impact on both your career, and your person. By choosing South Korea as your playground for growth, you’ll be immersed in a beautiful mixture of tradition, innovation, cuisine, art, and connection to those around you. With its blend of new and old, you’ll be an active participant in the clashing together of times, allowing you to gain cross-cultural understanding. Relax, explore, and allow yourself to truly immerse into the vibrant and exciting culture unfolding around you both in the office and out on the street. You are certain to love every moment.