As the era of selfie-sticks turns over into a new leaf of self-discovery, what better way to do a bit of Seoul searching than to intern abroad in the heart of South Korea? Come along and enter an ever-growing tech and education empire! Gain insight into the unique culture that makes up Seoul while unleashing your inner K-Pop fantasies at any of the dozen Karaoke bars there. Don’t binge-watch Korean dramas just to see the fascinating things Seoul has to offer. Be there! Roam the countless markets in Myeong-dong, taste the Korean delicacies, and gain an unforgettable internship experience!
Types of internships in Seoul
In just four decades, Seoul was able to transform from an impoverished city decimated by the Korean War into one of the most prosperous and high-tech metropolitans that continues to serve as a model to countries across the globe. An explosion in international interest thanks to tech, K-pop, and edgy dramas have allowed Seoul’s economy to diversify and boom into a billion dollar industry. Interns will have countless options in various fields when it comes to finding placement.
Short-term vs. Long-term internships. Placements for Seoul are available on both a short-term or long-term basis. Looking for a quick one to three month journey? Short-term internships will be more cost-effective (AKA more Korean BBQ money) and will still let you fill up any blank spaces on that pesky resume. Still aiming for that degree? No worries, summer internships are available and popular among students. Academic credit AND career experience have never sounded sexier.
Do you prefer an extra challenge (#savage) and have some extra time in your plans to spare? Long-term internships will definitely push you to glow and grow out of your comfort zone. Employers will see length (six months to a year) as a strong level of commitment, which can give your resume the push it needs to head straight to the top of the pile. Even more importantly, you will get an even better feel for Korean culture and who knows, maybe you’ll get discovered as the next big K-Drama star while you’re there? (Don’t forget us when you do!) Heads up, long-term internships for english speakers are more competitive and some may require Korean language skills.
Popular fields of work. Seoul is the largest contributor to South Korea’s economy and one of Asia’s major centers of entertainment, research, media and tourism. As a leading and rising global city, Seoul’s main economic focus revolves around manufacturing, commerce and finance. Large companies in Seoul include Samsung, LG, Hyundai and Kia, which allow for many engineering, business, and government internship opportunities. For those looking into different fields, hospitality and education have availabilities that are open year round for individuals!
Paid vs. unpaid internships in Seoul. In a perfect world, everyone would get paid for their labor. However, in the real world—we got to give a little in order to gain a lot! Think of it as an investment in your future and yourself. As the job market becomes more competitive, paid internships in Korea are hard to come by. While many internships in Seoul are unpaid, occasionally airfare, accommodation or insurance will be covered (especially in the education or hospitality sector). Some companies may even pay a monthly stipend depending on the time commitment or required duties. If your internship is unpaid, fear not! Costs in Seoul are on par with those of the U.S. (If not less). Plus, the new skills you learned, the network you built, and the Tteokbokki you ate will all be worth it in the end.
Life in Seoul
Love your eight hours of beauty sleep? Well good luck because sleep is for the weak in the eyes of Seoulites. As a city in motion that never sleeps, it’s common to go out drinking with your co-workers until 3AM and still have to be at the office by 7AM (#SpartanTraining). Koreans are the definition of work hard, play harder as they often commit to a 55-hour workweek. So when it comes to enjoying their free time, you best be sure you can find them singing karaoke in the luxurious streets of Gangnam, partying it up in the youthful Hongdae area, or even shopping in the Myeong-dong streets until 4AM.
For those who refuse to give up their ZzZz’s, but still want to enjoy the beauty of Seoul, the city consists of many museums and palaces from the Goryeo and Joseon dynasty. The Changdeokgung Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site and serves as a perfect representation of Korea: an innovative vision of the future paired with a profound respect for the past. Whatever may be your calling, you’ll be able to find it within the luminous streets of Seoul. Reliable transportation will even allow you to visit more rural and natural areas in Korea.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
As the wise Birdman once said, put some “RESPEK” on their name! Respect and humility are valued in the workplace, so it is vital to remember some key business etiquettes such as punctuality, politeness, and formalities with those who are older. You’ll get asked for your age numerous times so that others will know how to properly address you. Just a heads up though, Koreans consider babies to be one year old at the time of their birth and everyone turns another year older every January 1st. This means that your age and your Korean age are different!
Lastly, our most important word of advice: Eat everything! Avoid ordering too many dishes at a restaurant since most places serve banchan (small complimentary dishes ranging from the beloved kimchi to candied lotus root). Wash it down with a soju dropped in beer and you’ll be a local in no time.
Learn how these fascinating Seoulites keep their cool during the day and maximize their free time at night. You can gain so much by being an intern abroad in Seoul. Don’t be that lost soul that doesn’t know where to go, shake your worries away, take that step, and know that interning abroad in Seoul will be the extra spice (along with kimchi) needed in your life.
Once you k-pop, the fun don’t stop! Read our comprehensive guide on interning abroad in South Korea.