HUBS Internship Program: A Brief Report (Kurt)

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Kurt Pintscher Intern at Dong-Wha Pharmaceuticals

One main reason why I chose to study in Korea was a previous visit in 2012 and the few but interesting insights into the Korean way of life I had during those four days. Back then I did an internship with a German manufacturing company in Shanghai, China. These six months gave me a basic understanding of the Chinese culture and way of thinking. Because of that, I planned to work in Korea as well after finishing my exchange semester.

After I was accepted by Hanyang University in the beginning of this year, I contacted some companies in Korea and applied for an internship from December on. However none of them were interested as having a foreign intern was concidered to be too much work. Luckily one day in October my Professor Renee Kim Boyoung offered the unique opportunity to her graduate students to apply for an internship at the leading Korean pharmaceutical manufacturer, Dong Wha Pharm Co. Ltd. As you can imagine I immediately handed in my application papers. Some days later about ten applicants were invited to the first out of two applications phases. Everyone was asked to give a short presentation to Professor Kim and a representative of the Office of International Relations & Accreditation  about his or her intentions to apply for the internship program.

Around two weeks later the remaining five applicants entered the second application phase. This time we were invited to the headquater located near Seoul Station. Compared to a the job interviews I had so far in Germany, a Korean one is likely to be on a more personal level as interpersonal relations at work are, from my point of view, in general valued higher in Asia than in Europe. Another two weeks later, I started working in the Global Business Team. So how is working in Korea like?

There are things that are very similar to working in Europe and other aspects that are significantly different. Like with my previous jobs in Germany and China a certain task was assigned to me in the beginning and I was free to find my own way of coping with it. Whenever I had any questions all team members were happy to answer them. At the end of each week, I had to present my results and the whole team discussed about my tasks for the following week. Suggestions I made were appreciated and feedback was more than welcome. To summerize it: When it comes to working as fulfilling a given task, there are, from my point of view, no great differences to my previous work experiences.

However, when talking about work as the better part of your week that you spend with a limited amount of people and the social interaction taking place within this time, there are some differences. Whether these differences are perceived as something positive or negative depends on the person you talk to. In general in Korea it is common to spend much more of your private time with your colleagues. You not only spend your lunch break together but also sometimes have a dinner together after work (called Hoeshik) or have a trip to the countryside on the weekend. During the month I was working for the pharmaceutical company I took part in each of these happenings as I think it is an effective way of team building and a great way to get to know the Korean culture better. We for example went to an opera on Friday night, visited a winery on Saturday or another team dinner on my final day the following Friday. As you see these activities can affect your weekend plans. Especially among younger Koreans there is a growing number of people, that claim their weekend as a work-free time. In contrast to that, having a dinner and drinks on the company you are working for is unique.

Another aspect worth mentioning is the frequency and intensity of these kind of events, which simultaneously are the main reasons for the aversion of parts of the younger work force. When having a team dinner you are very likely to come home around 12 P.M. but are expected to be at your desk the following morning at 9 A.M. You can imagine, that when there are more than one of these occasions in one week, this might cause some stress to employees. Luckily my team members were happy to spend their private time with me. From my point of view, the Korean corporate culture can be a big fun, when you are, as in my case, fortunate to work with people you can call friends after some weeks. I actually planned to leave Korea before Christmas but thanks to this internship I will come back in February in order to attend the wedding of one of my team members. As you see, an internship at a domestic company will offer you more insights into the Korean culture than you might have during studying as an exchange student. That is why I can only recommend you to take this opportunity.

Finally I would like to thank my professor Professor Kim, the team of the Office of International Relations and Accreditation at HUBS and the management of the pharmaceutical company to offer this unique chance to exchange students of Hanyang University. However the people that made this last month in Korea a very special one, are my team members. Thank you for being the best colleagues one can imagine.

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Company Trip to the Countryside

 

PS: To further encourage you to take this step, you should know that 4 out of 10 applicants from the first application phase finally got the chance to do an internship. Keep in mind, the next intern could be you.

 

Article by Kurt from Germany

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