My life as an intern: Tom Signing Off

Updated on Aug 29, 2023 · By Tom

Hi everyone, today is our last day at Enkor so Rachel and I thought it would be a good idea to share our experience working here as interns.

Why did you choose Korea?

Source: StudioBinder - Korean movies, the biggest reason why I'm there today

Like many, I first heard about Korea through movies and music. That's what lead me to send a request and get accepted for an exchange program as an undergraduate. Fast forward two years, I needed to find an internship to graduate my Master's! Naturally I turned to Korea with the hopes to finally become fluent (spoiler: I didn't). And I love it here!

How did you find out about Enkor?

I had the chance to meet Jay Oh, Enkor's CEO back in 2019. I was an exchange student and he was my landlord! We discussed a lot and he explained his project to create a company whose purpose would be to provide foreigners coming to Korea with housing, a community, and many other services. A few months later this company was born and known as Enkor. Back then he also told me that he would be here for me if I needed anything. Two years later he owned up to his promise!

This Tom has nothing on me

See, finding an internship in Korea was almost Mission Impossible for me. Not only do I graduate in the most basic field ever (International Business) so I have to face a lot of competition, but I also do not talk Korean well enough to work in a basic Korean company. Just when I started to lose hope I thought about Jay so I reached out to him. And he proposed me to apply for an internship at Enkor! I passed interviews successfully and a few months of VISA struggles later I arrived in Korea.

What was your overall experience at Enkor like?

It was great, I am extremely grateful to Jay Oh for giving me a chance. When I first arrived I was intimidated because everything was new for me, I never worked in Korea, nor in a startup. However I quickly became more comfortable as everybody was nice and helped me to feel good. All my colleagues were pretty good at English as well and I had the chance to work with Rachel (that you may know from other posts) on social media and this blog, but also to do interviews with Niko and Benjamin.

Work/Life Balance - How is it different from your own culture?

As I hold a Working Holiday Visa I can not work regular Korean hours so my work/life balance was pretty good. Just a minus point to the transportation, Seoul is very big and even tho the transportation system is well-rounded and complete it still can be a bit slow and over crowded on rush hours: I took me from 1h30 to 2 hours to to go work. On a normal schedule the work/life balance is quite bad here compared to my home country, France. But in startups the rules are less strict, for example you do not need to wait for your manager to go before you leave the office, nights out with your team are not mandatory, etc. This freedom gives a better team ambient and people are more productive. If you end up in a traditional workplace in Korea chances are that the mood will be more gloomy and even turn sad when you work overtime.

Would you recommend interning abroad for anyone who is thinking about it?

If you want to try going abroad then do not hesitate! I think this is a great way to experience “real life” in a country, let me explain. When you go somewhere as a student you experience the student life of this place minus the bad parts. When I came here for my exchange year my classes were few and easy so I spent more time going out and making friends than studying. Now, when you are here as a trainee/ intern you have a daily job and less friends to go out with, it becomes an overview of what your life could look like in this country / city. 

If you are interested by Korea in particular there are a few things you should know:

Get a language certification.

Most jobs description asked for a native level in Korean so you should consider learning Korean, and getting a proof of your level will give you a chance to get the attention of the recruiters. The must-have certification is the TOPIK, a level 4 would show that you are ready to work in Korean.

Get contacts, a lot of them.

This is the most important and efficient way to find your internship. You can make contacts online, with friends of friends, with former exchange students from your school, etc. Having contacts works like a charm when trying to work abroad, they can help you preparing for job interviews, finding an apartment, etc. I am the living proof that it works!

Any last word?

With this I come to say my goodbyes, it was a pleasure writing these articles for you, I hope you liked reading them as much as I liked writing them! Best of luck with your projects and I hope seeing you in Seoul! 

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