Ishak Caner, '18, Summer Internship at CJ Entertainment & Media in Seoul, Korea, Summer 2016

August 26, 2016
Ishak Caner, '18, Summer Internship at CJ Entertainment & Media in Seoul, Korea, Summer 2016

I interned with the International Film Distribution and Sales team at CJ E&M this summer. I applied for the role because of the combination with my interest in business fields and my interest in Korea and potentially working in Korea in the future, as well as my particular interest in Korean entertainment.

Although I had been to Korea the summer before this one for Harvard Summer School in Seoul, I once again went to Korea this summer not knowing what to expect because I was going for work this time. Truth be told, all that I had heard about Korean corporate culture had made me somewhat anxious before the start of my internship. However, I would soon discover that there was no reason to be anxious at all.

While it is possible that I was treated differently because I was a foreigner or because I came from “Harvard,” I can definitely say that I was very well taken care of by my mentor and the rest of my coworkers alike. Although virtually everyone on the team has at least decent English ability, work is generally conducted in Korean. While I had a command of rudimentary Korean, my competency was nowhere near that required to function independently in a work setting; nevertheless, the entire team did very wonderfully to accommodate my level of Korean, giving me the chance to practice and improve while also using English as necessary to make sure that I never got lost.

My main projects for the summer involved researching the historical performance of Asian films in the United States and doing initial stage market research of the Turkish film and media markets (I was asked to tend to matters on Turkey because I am from Turkey and can speak Turkish). I ultimately presented my research findings to the team in a thirty minute presentation. While there were times during the summer when I felt I was slightly underwhelmed by the workload, I do think that the work I did was meaningful and valuable experience.

Aside from work, I also enjoyed some of the perks that can come with working for an entertainment giant. I attended a movie premier and met the actors, went to a sort of a private kickoff event for another film, and, best of all, had a chance to go to the K-pop show, Mnet Countdown. I am very thankful to my coworkers and other staff within the company who worked to make those extracurricular experiences possible.

Overall, I feel very fortunate for having had the chance to do this internship. My original goals were to find out what life might be like as an employee in corporate Korea, and not only did this internship help meet my goal, it also left me with an invaluable summer’s worth of precious memories and fun times with new contacts and old friends alike. I would like to extend special thanks to Catherine, Susan Laurence, and Professor Sun Joo Kim of the Korean Institute and the KI Internship donor respectively for arranging, funding, and generally making possible this experience.