My life as an intern: Rachel's Story
My story is a little different from others, but I hope that it gives those wanting to come to Korea that little extra push of inspiration they need to take the first step in their journey. Being here has truly been a blessing for me and I am so thankful that I decided to leave my comfort zone and be a part of a world that is completely different from my own.
# Why did you choose Korea?
Okay, this is going to sound really cliche, but I first became interested in South Korea because my friend introduced me to K-Pop and Kdramas. Now don't get me wrong I do love them but I am not a huge K-Pop person and I also don't go around romanticizing life in Korea as if it were a K-Drama.
Of course, I learned about BTS as my first K-Pop group and started to branch out from there, and I know what you're thinking, but no I am not a part of the huge BTS fan base “ARMY” but their music did inspire me to leave my comfort zone and to explore more of the world.
In addition to this, my friend that I mentioned earlier, had spent a lot of time in Asian countries and actually lived in Japan for a couple years. So she really got me thinking about “what if” I could do something like that, whether it be for a short or long amount of time. Growing up with a very conservative family I learned early on that they weren't always going to support my dreams especially if they were outside the box. Therefore, having a support system such as a friend that cheers you on to achieve your dreams really does make all the difference. If you're reading this, thanks Esmeralda.
Korea is much more than you will ever know until you actually experience it for yourself. The wonderful food, culture, beautiful scenery, public transportation system, historical places, the traditions, and so much more.
# How did you find out about Enkor?
So unlike many interns I am actually in graduate school, I go to Texas State University in Texas, so when I wanted to apply for an internship abroad I couldn't simply go through my university. I actually signed up through a program called ISA or TEAN as they are now called. They offer study abroad programs, internships, and service learning activities, they can go through your university for school credit or you can simply sign up for the internship program and not receive credit like I did. You will still need to have a few forms signed by your university whether you decide to receive credit or not, so keep that in mind.
You have the choice to decide which country you would like to study or intern in and you can browse through their different options. Once you apply for the country you would like to intern in your application will be accepted and you will have an interview scheduled with your program manager. She/he will be assisting you with the process to getting to your country, or in my case Korea. They will ask you what your interests are and what type of internship you are looking for and will then taylor the company based upon what you are looking for. You will submit a resume and cover letter and then will adjust it with your program manager before sending it in. It takes about 10weeks to hear back about your company placement. From there, you will interview with the company and they will decide whether or not to move forward.
Once you are accepted your supervisor will reach out to you from you internship company and let you know the expectations for your internship such as wardrobe, work tasks, etc.
What was your overall experience at Enkor?
My overall experience with Enkor was very positive! I was extremely lucky because as you probably know, Enkor focuses on helping foreigners find housing in Seoul while they are studying or just staying abroad for awhile. Therefore they have all of their content in English and it is important that they communicate their information in English and that is where I come into help! As a native English speaker it was really interesting to be able to assist with making sure that the communication was correct. Additionally, my main job was posting on our social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook), assisting with English editing, along with writing blogs for our website about current events or about things that would assist foreigners. Such as how to take public transit, getting a bank account, and so much more. Check them out!
I also had the wonderful opportunity to intern with a couple of other interns. The intern that I worked with the most, Tom, he was so fun and we worked really well together so I was grateful to have him as a coworker. In addition to him, all of my other coworkers were very charming and sweet, and always did there best to make me feel included when it was important.
# Work/Life Balance - How is it different from your own culture?
Work/Life balance is very similar but also different from my work back home. So, a little back story, I am an event planner for a caterer back home and during busy season I have been known to stay at my desk late into the night, especially when I mix my workload with my school work and my inability to cope with mornings. So my home life isn't always separate from my work life. Whereas while working as an intern my workload was much less so I had more time to enjoy my freetime and was able to better separate my work and home life. However, everyone in the company takes their position very seriously so even if they keep their work and home life separate, they were always willing to stay late or come in on the weekends to accomodate for the work that needed to be done. Overall I would say the dedication and professionalism that everyone has for the company was very different and refreshing.
Would you recommend interning abroad for anyone who is thinking about it?
100% Yes! I would say the scariest thing out of everything is making the choice to apply. I'm not kidding. It is a huge step just to put your foot in the door, and once you do you will be motivated to see it through. Yes, things will be different and new but also exciting and eye opening.
This is actually my second time coming abroad. I studied abroad for a month in Barcelona, Spain back in 2017 when I was an undergraduate. That experience was the scariest thing I had ever done for myself but completely changed my life and made me realize that there is more to life than staying inside the lines.
So when I made the choice to come to Seoul, I was nervous to apply, but when I arrived I didn't experience as large of a culture shock because I was ready for such a large change, and was open minded about what I was going to experience. So the most important thing is to make sure that you keep an open mind and are willing to learn and grow as much as you can.
# Other experiences you want to share?
Keep in mind that when you are an intern it is not going to be all rainbows and butterflies all of the time, sometimes it may be slow or sometimes you may feel overwhelmed, but don't worry, everyone in your company knows that you are new to this culture and will be patient with you. So don't feel afraid to speak with someone in your environment about what you are feeling.
Additionally, public transportation here is something I actually really love and wish I had back in my hometown of Austin, TX. You can go anywhere in Seoul either on a train or bus and everyone takes public transportation so it isn't weird at all to not have a car. It is also really safe to go out at night, so you don't have to be too worried about coming home after you have been drinking.