03 Jan What To Know Before Your Seoul Internship in 2023
Wondering what the Korean internship hype is all about?
With a new year about to begin, it’s a great time to pursue new opportunities. If you’re reading this, then it’s likely that you’ve considered taking on an internship in the year to come – and you’re in luck, because you’ve definitely come to the right place!
(Did you know that in the U.S., there are about 300,000 students who take on internships each year?)
There’s a reason why that number is large, too: internships are a great chance for students to learn more about the industry they want to work in. From paperwork to hands-on training, as well as soft skills like communication and teamwork, a lot can be learned from internships. In these recent years, there have even been an influx of students who have been wanting to level it up!
A growing number of interns have taken up foreign internships, which allow them to learn more about other cultures, as well. Korean internships in particular are growing more and more popular among students, and with good reason!
Why take a Korean internship
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, South Korea was recognized as one of the most innovative economies in the world. This means that it’s grown to become a hub of business in Asia – and presents a LOT of opportunities for those who are seeking them! Both Korean locals and foreign nationals have made the most of this by flocking to cities like Seoul to take their chances.
Not only have work opportunities grown for adults, but Korean internships have also been on the rise. Students from all around the world have flown to Seoul to gain experience and soak up the culture! A lot of students take up Seoul internships because of the chance to connect with talented, experienced mentors from the different thriving industries in the country. Additionally, the colorful city life helps them learn more about other cultures and their history, too! And companies are always on the lookout for talented, English-speaking students who are excited to learn and contribute.
Korean internships have grown more popular because of the unique experiences that can be gained through them – and if you’re planning to fly out yourself this 2023, here’s everything you’re going to need to know:
When packing for your Korean internship, one of the most important considerations should be the weather. Seoul also experiences four seasons much like other Western countries, so be mindful of the time of year that you’re going to travel. Spring is April to June, a rainy summer is July to August, a crisp autumn in September to November, and white winters in December to March – make sure to pack accordingly!
Additionally, living in Seoul means getting to explore the different neighborhoods. Much like the famed New York City, each of these Korean neighborhoods have their own life and personality. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect:
- Myeongdong: prime shopping district, especially for tourists
- Itaewon: multicultural city feel (bars, street art, cafes, etc)
- Dongdaemun: architecture, late-night shopping, and museums
- Insadong: souvenir destination for locally made traditional Korean goods
- Gangnam: high-end lifestyle
- Hongdae: university area
- Jamsil: home to the city’s two baseball teams – and an amusement park!
- Namdaemun: the city’s oldest traditional market, with great street food
- Buam-dong: mostly residential, but a good place to enjoy mountain views and museums
- Samcheong-dong: traditional Korean houses and experiences; art galleries
Remember: traveling to Seoul doesn’t mean just going there to complete your Korean internship. Take the time to explore the sights and sounds of the city and immerse yourself in the culture! Work skills aren’t the only thing you’re going to learn – it’s great to learn about what it’s like to live in another part of the world.
How to interact with your Korean friends
When you embark on your Seoul internship, one more thing you’re going to want to learn is how to interact with the people around you. Just like any other place, Koreans have common etiquette and communication habits, so it’s important to learn these things in order to adapt well!
Firstly, as your Korean internship is being held in Seoul, you can expect that people will prefer to communicate in the Korean language. While you don’t need to be an expert on the language, it would be helpful to know even just the basics of Korean that are sure to help you get by. Practice is key!
Another one of the biggest things you’ll want to take into consideration is the high respect for age hierarchies: in Korean culture, how young or old you are will determine how you’re treated and spoken to. Expect to be asked your age – and expect it to affect your interactions with others, too! Respect for older people is a must, and caring for younger people is also normal as per custom.
Here’s an easy guide:
- If you’re male and speaking to an older man, you call him hyung. Speaking to an older woman, she would be your noona.
- If you’re female and speaking to an older man, he is oppa. An older woman would be eonni.
Take note that foreigners aren’t always expected to adjust to these customs – but it makes a good impression when you do!
What Korean internships are like
Now that you’ve learned more about societal norms, you’re probably wondering: but what are Korean internships like? Living in the city is one thing, but navigating a Korean work environment can seem pretty intimidating, especially for foreigners. Don’t fret, we’ve got you!
Just like what happens outside of the workplace, age hierarchies are still important inside the workplace. One could even say that they’re even more important when you’re in the workplace! A lot of Korean workplaces operate on the importance of age and status. As an intern, you can expect to be given a lot of tasks, checked in with on a regular basis, and even assigned a few things here and there.
A few industries also consider it the norm to ask their employees to either stay late or come in early. And while you aren’t required to do this, again, it makes a good impression – hustle culture is prevalent in the country, and going the extra mile can be treated as a sign of loyalty and good work ethic.
Aside from this, Korean employees also have the habit of going out after work for dinner and drinks! The team members socialize, and these gatherings can last late into the night. Your Korean internship experience definitely won’t be complete without joining at least one of these.
Korean internships are a great opportunity to learn work-related skills and immerse yourself in a new culture. While it can take a fair amount of adjustment, pursuing an internship in Seoul can be a very rewarding, learning-filled experience for the students who take their chances!
Who knows? You might even be able to turn your internship into a long-term opportunity if you play your cards right 😉