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Daniel - Thanks for mentioning Robert. Yes, he's pretty much the example to follow..... Was teaching English out in the boondocks of Korea... Contributed actively on KBC and, if I recall, the English newspapers... Leveraged that with some networking into a finance job in... Shanghai! Here's his story - http://www.koreabusinesscentral.com/xn/detail/3463326:Comment:64179. He's even stayed engaged on KBC after that...
So, as many KBC members (including myself) can attest, the transition is possible. But it's not easy and it takes time and uncommon effort.... and a little luck... But luck comes to those who spend the time and effort to find the opportunities.
Cory, I think you exactly summed up how I'm thinking. I know full well that getting a banking job here for 2 or 3 years would be a better and more sensible start to my career. However, the UK financial services industry is in pretty bad shape at the moment. Even if I did manage to land a role at Goldman Sachs, for example, I still think I would feel quite miserable and unfulfilled because of the fact I'd be stuck in the UK rather than Korea.
Ondrej, I've been looking at some MBA programmes in Korea, I'm definitely thinking about doing one eventually, especially as they seem to offer generous scholarships to foreigners. However, isn't it a little pointless to study for an MBA without any real business experience? I think that's something for me to do 4-5 years down the line, but we'll see.
Steven - thanks for the link/inspiration, I'll take a look. I realise it will take effort and luck, but I'm ready for it.
Thanks all, I think I'll go for it.
Jonathan, (real name?)
As a Cass Exec MBA (The crest that you've used) graduate of this year, I have just landed in Korea with my family for more entrepreneurial reasons... however you are right about one thing...an MBA is definitely about giving and taking (much as Korea is). If you turn up on one and your classmates quickly work out who has any real experience in Corporate or other worlds and quickly those without the ability to bring something to the table are left without a table. You'll also find you get much more out of it as well.
As one Alumni to another, certainly an interesting proposition!
Hi Campbell! Yes it's my real name. I'm studying MSc Investment Management. How was the Cass experience for you? What are your business plans in Korea? I'd love to keep in touch.
My recommendation is to come over and enroll in a Korean course at one of the universities. While hear, network like crazy, learn more about the culture and language. Then follow that up with search for employment.
Best of luck!
This comments in this discussion have been really useful.
I am also an English male, reaching my mid 20's and have spent the last four years in Korea since graduating with a degree in Psychology in the UK. Unlike Johnathan I already posses advanced Korean skills that are enough to allow me to make Korean friends and network with non-English speakers.
I'm seeking an internship in something marketing, sales or PR related. My dream would be helping UK companies adopt marketing and sales strategies that fit the Korean market. The problem I have at the moment is a lack of experience.
Officially advertised Internships are few and far between. I would ideally like to find any Korean company in Daejeon (where I live) to let me intern with them in the marketing or sales department. I am aware that this would probably mean operating in 100% Korean, which would definitely take extra study and would still definitely be a challenge.
Judging from everyone's experience on here, what do you think are my realistic chances of being taken on as a marketing or sales intern in Daejeon, given that I am a foreigner and they probably haven't ever taken on foreign interns?
Thanks for any comments in advance.
Did you apply for the LG internship I posted here? Or the CJ internship? As a psych major, it might be difficult. Have you thought of getting a Korean language MBA here maybe from Hanyang, Steve Bammel alma mater? That would be a real interesting edge in your favor...
Hi Daniel, I haven't applied for either of those and anything I do apply for would have to be part-time until I finish my current contract in July of next year. After that I'm planning on moving to Seoul and doing everything I can to land an internship.
Did Steve get a Korean Language MBA? Steve, if you are there, did you find this to be useful and did you find that companies were impressed with this? Also, was it taught in 100% Korean and how did you find that?
I would consider doing an MBA for a year or two, but I feel that an internship followed by a job working in a Western company looking to move into the Korean market would be much quicker. Also I've read Josh Kaufman's 'the personal MBA' and am dubious of the value of MBA programs as a result.
James - I didn't actually get an MBA; it's a full MS in Management Strategy, complete with thesis. All classes were in Korean and I attended as a Korean student and I was the only non-Korean in the department. That's what makes it different than the various global MBAs out there, which I think can make an excellent conduit for English teachers to transition into business in Korea. But I also highly recommend that Korean-speakers skip the global MBA program and dive right into a full Korean program, not just in business, but in any field of interest (and qualification).
Thanks for the advice, Steve. Can you recommend a school and do you know if there are scholarships available at all? Also I presume that the lectures were in Korean but that you had easy access to the material in English. While my Korean is fluent, I think it would take considerable amounts of time to do all the reading in Korean. Also were you allowed to submit assignments in English?
I can recommend Hanyang... As for cost, that's the best part.... grad school at a regular Korean university is FAR cheaper than the various global MBAs... I was paying full price at about W8 mil per year and I'm pretty sure I could have negotiated that down if I would have been willing to do some English classes (I wasn't). About half the materials were in English and I was encouraged to submit assignments and take tests in English (though I was stubborn and stuck with Korean).
That's amazing that you decided to go for submitting tests and taking assignments in Korean. I remember you saying that you felt you know only about 10% of the language in one of your blog posts, did this not greatly hold you back in your ability to pass the tests and submit quality assignments? I can only assume that the Korean in the tests and assignments posed none or few problems for you.