Internships, which used to be primarily for medical students, have quickly become ubiquitous in the corporate, nonprofit and government institution worldwide. The University of Seoul (UOS) has also joined this global phenomenon by providing students with an internship program called ‘Global Internship Program.’ Through the Global Internship Program, the UOS students are trained to have a cosmopolitan mindset and receive practical business skills through hands-on experience working in organizations abroad. The UOS Times interviewed Bong Dae-gun (School of Korean history, 04) for further information about the Global Internship Program.
Dae-gun chose the Wyndham Hotel in Chicago as the place for his internship in his second last semester. The Wyndham Hotel, where he worked for five months, is one of the world’s largest hotel chains with approximately 7,200 hotels worldwide. Besides Chicago, students can choose other cities - in New York or Missouri - as a place for their internships. He said, “Students get to choose a place where they want to intern. I chose the Wyndham Hotel in Chicago because this experience would become a major stepping stone to the field that I want to work in later on.” He also added that the internship program in each city has its advantages and disadvantages so it is important to be aware of these differences. For example, while the internship program in Chicago focuses mainly on training in practical business skills, the internships of New York and Missouri additionally offer language courses.
Then, The UOS Times asked how his life in Chicago was. He said, “Overall it was good.” He liked the peaceful and cozy atmosphere of his workplace, which is located a quiet suburb area of Chicago. He also commented that his hotel was kind enough to provide a free hotel room when he had trouble commuting due to heavy snow. His co-workers were also friendly and kind so that it was easier for him to adjust into his new workplace. During the five months of his internship, he was in charge of sales, public relations (PR), and marketing mainly dealing with Koreans in Chicago. During his internship, he actually arranged several big contracts with Korean groups such as holding holiday parties, conferences and seminars at his hotel. He said, “Although it was stressful and nervous to be evaluated based on business performance, so far it was a good experience since I learned practical business skills; how to deal with different people and present my ideas or opinions in an effective way.”After working hard, he also enjoyed his free time during the weekend by hanging out with friends and shopping in downtown Chicago.
Those who would like to have a work experience in overseas organization like Dae-gun need to go through several steps. First in the documentation stage, students have to submit a completed application form, transcripts, and a language certificate such as TOEIC or TOFEL to the Institute of International Cooperation and Education (IICE) just as other global programs in IICE require. However, according to Dae-Gun, applicants additionally have to submit a resume and cover letter in both Korean and English. Those who pass both the documentation and interview stage in IICE will then have telephone interviews with local host organizations that are assigned by the sponsor. He said he had an interview with the personnel manager from the Wyndham Hotel through Skype using a webcam. “Applying to the internship program is not as hard as many people might think. Though you have to pass several interviews, there is nothing to worry if you are well-prepared.”
Wrapping up an hour interview with Dae-gun, The UOS Times asked him for advice for those who want to participate in the program. He said, “It is reckless to have an internship without a realistic and pre-determined goal. Some interns are not satisfied with their programs because they end up doing menial and routine tasks like stuffing envelopes for five months. So, choose the best city and organization which are related to your field or at least to your interests and goals.” If you wish to learn real work in an overseas office and practice English, consider the Global Internship Program.