The Washington Center (TWC) Internship Program
An opportunity for an enriching experience
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As the school's nickname “Engine of Korea” suggests, Hanyang University (HYU) offers many programs for outgoing students to build sophisticated skills for independent thinking and to foster knowledge and wisdom through extensive experiences. The Washington Center (TWC) Internship Program is one of the school's programs which provides students with the opportunity to work as interns at desired organizations all located in Washington D.C. The center itself was created in 1975 for the purpose of connecting students and helping them to translate college majors into career paths. It is a unique program in the sense that it is available not only to Korean students but also to those from all around the world, allowing students the chance to work in a real international environment. Lim Gi-hwan (Department of Financial Management, 4th year) and Shin Jae-ah (Division of International Studies, 3rd year) are two students who took part in the TWC program in January 2017 and January 2018.
“I actually didn't know about TWC until I got a message from the school. Being able to work in the capital seemed really attractive and that's what got me to apply for the program," said Lim. Shin on the other hand, was well aware of the program since her freshman year, and applied as soon as she became a junior. "It seemed like a great opportunity to build some practical experience in the States, which I'd never been to before.”
The whole process was harder than they had first anticipated. After successfully applying to the TWC program, it is entirely up to the students to apply for the final internship interview. Fortunately, the center guides them through each step and tries to match them with organizations that best matches their major, goals, skills, and most important of all, field of interest. There is also no limitation on the number of organizations one can apply for. Lim was able to work at the Department of Small and Local Development, which is a governmental organization that deals with small and medium-sized enterprises. Shin also worked at a governmental organization called the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), dealing with SNS analysis, annual reports on civic engagement, and content creation.
When asked about some of the hardships faced while working in the States, Lim said “I wasn't really fluent in English, so in the beginning I had some difficulties at work. So I would bring a recorder with me to work and record everything my boss or my colleagues would say, so I could replay it afterwards and practice my English.” Shin reflected on some of the moments of culture shock she had, ranging from different ways of housekeeping to living in relatively "unsafe" residential area due to recent shootings. However, Lim and Shin both emphasized how their lives in the States were enriching thanks to highly accessible and abundant museums, galleries, and academic seminars. “I used to live a very work-oriented life in Korea. After living in the States, I've learned to relax and really enjoy every moment of my life," said Shin.
“After completing the program and having lived with roommates from different countries for a few months, I was able to get rid of some of the cultural prejudices I had held before working in the States," said Lim. Shin agreed that despite having lived overseas during her childhood, she realized that she was still culturally biased and was able to learn how to become more understanding of others. "It's not worth judging others. I learned to use my time on other things that are more valuable to me," said Shin.
Lim, graduating this semester, will be working at Hyundai Motors, while Shin will continue to complete her junior year. Both strongly recommended the program as it has helped them gain not only the experience of working overseas, but also other valuable life lessons. "I strongly encourage students to just give it a try as there's nothing to lose. It may not be the ideal work experience you've envisioned but it's important to keep in mind the possibility of finding value outside of work as well," said Lim. Shin added, "There are many students who want to work as interns overseas just because it sounds cool, but don't get too caught up in that and focus on what kind of work you really want to do. That will truly allow you to develop yourself as a person and help you grasp a clearer idea of your future path.”
Park Joo-hyun email@example.com
Photos by Park Geun-hyung
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