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What makes the fellowship so rewarding is not only the skills I'm gaining but also the people I'm meeting.

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An illustration on a key difference between workplaces in the West and the East (Yang Liu)

Upon receiving the news that I will be working in Korea for a month, my aunt, who is well-versed with anything Korean, warned about its notorious workplace culture, which is influenced by Confucianism. The social hierarchy is rigid and younger members are expected to respect the elders. Applying this structure to the workplace, new young interns are to strictly obey the orders of their superiors. This dynamic has been well-documented as contributing to stressful working conditions.

This dynamic couldn't be more different in Australia. Knowing that I am used to a more egalitarian and relaxed work environment, my aunt pointed out all the little things that would ensure a smooth transition into a Korean office: never be late to work or meeting (well, this should be practiced universally), don’t be the first person of your rank to leave the office, always greet the boss and supervisor with a little bow or head nod, and don’t assume you are on a first-name basis with any older colleagues after a short time.

Luckily, the workplace culture at the Korea Herald is a fusion of East and West, where people display the famous Korean work efficiency while being chill and welcoming. During work, the office is dominated by the sound of people typing furiously on keyboards. Everyone exhibits amazing endurance and concentration. Amidst their workload, my superiors would still patiently point out the writing style errors in my draft articles (remember that 150-page style guide that I mentioned two weeks ago? I am still trying to master it; the learning curve is steep). I am very indebted to their attention, patience, and guidance.

Beyond finding leads and writing drafts, a highlight of every workday is the socializing which occurs during breaks and lunch. I didn’t know this before my visit, but in Korea, seniors (in school and at work) see it as a duty to look after the juniors. And one way to display care is paying for the junior’s meals. As a result, I have been a grateful recipient of numerous free coffees and lunch – like Bibimbap, pork bone soup, and Naengmyeon, a cold buckwheat noodle which is perfect in the humid summer heat. The expectation is that when the junior one day becomes the senior, they would then reciprocate the care and good will onto their juniors.

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Korea Herald's staff canteen, where many conversations and acquaintances are made (Aaron Yip)

I am also getting acquainted with the other foreign interns at the Herald. While relationships with senior colleagues remain professional in nature, it is easier to relate to the other interns since they are also studying at universities. There are three foreign interns, all from the United States. Two of them are from Stanford while the other Harvard (slight tangent, he is also called Aaron, with family from China/Hong Kong. What is the chance!?). Working alongside people from such illustrious institutions shows the prestige of the Herald’s internship programme.

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The other interns and I testing out the games at Sports Monster before producing an article on them (Aaron Yip)


About the Blog

Parallax records the experiences of final year students of the B.A. (Media & Communications) degree who have won competitive overseas internships to work in Asian, Indian and Latin American media organisations.
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