Preparing for Your Internship in Korea: 9 Things You Need to Know

Korean internship

Preparing for Your Internship in Korea: 9 Things You Need to Know

Dreaming of an internship in the heart of Seoul or perhaps the historic city of Gyeongju? South Korea is a vibrant country bustling with tech innovation, cultural heritage, and of course…the beloved K-pop. 

But the prospect of living and  working in a new country, especially one with cultural nuances as distinct as Korea, can be daunting if you’re not quite prepared.

Don’t worry. We’re here to make your transition into a Korean internship as smooth as possible. 

What Are the Benefits of an Internship in Korea?

Before we jump into the logistics, it’s important to address the why. What might draw you to Korea in the first place? 

The nation has a robust economy, particularly in sectors like electronics, finance, and automotive manufacturing. By interning in Korea, you gain exposure to cutting-edge technology and business models, which can thrust your career growth into high gear.

Not to mention, Korean companies have an international presence, and experience within them can open doors globally. 

Furthermore, the unique blend of tradition and modernity in Korea offers a diversity of experiences that can expand your cultural horizon, providing you with a different lens to view the world and your field of study.

9 Things You Need to Know Before Your Internship in Korea

Here are the top nine things you need to think about before you pursue an internship in Korea. 

1. Think Carefully About Your Internship Focus

Your experience in Korea should align with your career aspirations. Consider companies that operate within your field of interest. Research the best Korean firms for interns, such as Samsung, LG, or Hyundai, and learn about the roles they are best known for cultivating.

Given Korea’s strong presence in the tech, manufacturing, and engineering sectors, students in areas like computer science, mechanical engineering, and business administration might find particularly fertile ground to cultivate their interests. 

However, the healthcare industry and its ties to research and development are also growing. 

2. Choose Your Destination

Don’t pick your Korean internship destination at random – resist the temptation to just throw a pin at a map and call it a day. Each city has its own unique ambiance and professional opportunities to take into consideration:

  • Seoul: The bustling capital is a must-consider for its modern business environment and  cultural attractions.
  • Busan: A major port city, Busan is ideal for students interested in international trade, shipping, and manufacturing, not to mention its beautiful coastline.
  • Gyeongju: If history fascinates you, look no further than Gyeongju, the ancient capital of Silla, a kingdom that ruled for almost a thousand years.

internship nin Korea

3. Get Your Documentation in Order

Any good journey starts, unfortunately, with a whole lot of paperwork.

This includes securing your visa (including whether you need a working holiday visa), booking your flights, and checking that your passport is valid for the entire duration of your stay .

You may also want to look into travel insurance, medical insurance, and possibly liability insurance, depending on your intern arrangement. This is your safety net in case of any unexpected bumps in the road during your time in Korea.

4. Plan to Work Hard…

The Korean work culture is renowned for its rigor and discipline. Long working hours and a strong emphasis on hierarchy are the norm. 

Prepare for hard work. But also, understand the social dynamics within the workplace, including the importance of age and title in relation to your colleagues and superiors.

Even in an intern capacity, you are expected to contribute and respect these cultural nuances. But with hard work comes great opportunities to learn and network. Korean companies place a high value on diligence and dedication, so your efforts will not go unnoticed.

5. …And Play Hard, Too

All work and no play make for a dull intern! Take advantage of the rich culture and vibrant life that Korea offers. From tasting authentic Korean cuisine to exploring its ancient temples and glittering modern landmarks, there’s always something to do.

Participate in local activities, join language exchange meetups, and explore the pulsating nightlife. 

6. Brush Up On Your Korean

 While many professionals in Korea speak English, having a grip on the local language is a show of respect and will prove to be a significant asset in everyday life. 

Greetings, conversational phrases, and work-related vocabulary should be your top priorities here. The ability to communicate effectively, even at a basic level, will make your interactions much more meaningful – and your integration into the local community much smoother.

7. Demonstrate Cultural Sensitivity

Korean society places a high value on social harmony and respect. Before your internship, familiarize yourself with Korean customs and etiquette. 

Small gestures such as bowing during greetings and using two hands to present or receive items can have a big impact on your perception and acceptance among your Korean colleagues.

Take some time as well to understand more of the broader social customs, such as the importance of age and seniority, which could influence your interactions in the workplace. 

Cultural sensitivity is not only about avoiding unintended offense, but also about opening up communication avenues and building genuine relationships with your Korean peers.

8. Go to a Doctor

When was the last time you saw a doctor? 

If it’s been a while – or even, really, if it hasn’t –  you’ll want to schedule a visit. You might need vaccinations or prescribed medication for the trip. In case you have a pre-existing medical condition, consult with your doctor on managing it while abroad.

Also, speak with your doctor about your prescription medications, whether you’re allowed to bring them with you into Korea, and if not, how to obtain them once you arrive. 

9. Prepare Your Finances

Consider how you will handle your banking and get a sense of the best methods for managing your finances while in Korea.  Inform your bank about your travel plans to prevent any unexpected issues with your accounts. 

It might also be a good idea to research opportunities for part-time work or stipend options to supplement your income while interning.

Have the Best Experience Possible With Absolute Internship

Now that you’re armed with these nine critical points, start the planning process with confidence. Your Korean internship is not just an entry in your professional portfolio. It’s about entering the workforce with confidence.

Absolute Internship wants to help you make this grand entrance. Get in touch to learn more about the many internship opportunities we can connect you with in Korea – and beyond. 

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