On April 7th, I had my job interview with a major shipbuilding/raw material trading company. Of course it is Korean company. I thought let’s go and try it, because 1) the more interview you have, you get better and 2) the company works A LOT with foreign market. There office was one of the driest office building I’ve ever been to. On the top of that, the entire office space had carpet. My throat started to dry up really bad. Ever since I moved back to big Asian city, I started to have nasal obstruction and dry bronchi in Spring.
This isn’t my first interview with 40-50 years old Korean executives. But after this one, I have this weird feeling. I feel that the interviewers don’t quiet know how to deal with me. They feel uncomfortable with my presence around.
No, I’m not talking about how way too cool I am. Let me turn the table around and put it this way.
So you are typical middle-age Korean salarymen. Your position is about senior manager and you are 50 something. Of course you grew up in South Korea under Korean parents and Korean friends and classmates. You started your career in a Korean company, and you have been working for the same company about 20 years. Your subordinates are Koreans of 20 and 30. They obey you. Now, you are about to interview loads of candidates – of course someone who will be your subordinate and drink all that liquor as you command, and come to the office as soon as I say so, even though it’s 7 am Sunday. Here’s the next candidate. She looks Korean, speaks fluent Korean but feels a bit different. Foreign. But she is Korean. Um….alright, let’s check her resume. So she went high school and a good college…in States. It’s not California, New Jersey or New York, where there is bunch of Koreans. And, unlike other Koreans who got Western education, she literally grew up there. And she was in Japan, too. I’ve never quiet seen something like this…hmm. I called her because her resume looked interesting but oh, what should I do, what should I do? Think, think…well I’d rather have a good obedient Korean who covers my ass rather than an unidentified living creature, which I don’t know how to manage. It’s better to be safe than taking a risk. Alright, off you go…NEXT!
I feel this is what’s happening in their head.
I admit in the world like this, candidates with degree of more “practical,” specific field – like accounting, engineering, finance, etc – is preferrable to employers. I don’t have one, and I would not be surprised if that part plays a big role in their decision. But honestly, it is baffling when all these Korean employers are saying how globalized (or trying to be) they are, and how the candidates are so not globalized and incapable. Then some “global” candidate appears. The employers are then scared to hire him or her. Now about the capability – they can’t even write a clear job posting, or organize what kind of skillset they are looking for. My generation of candidates is probably the “smartest” candidates of Korean job market history. Yet the employers complain. Just stop all that bullcrap about how global and open-minded they are, and go right to the point on what kind of people you are looking for.
So why not scrap all of this and go off to grad school or travel?
Here’s my weakness. I am very reluctant to quit before I see the tangible result. Sometimes along the road, I start to feel – or realize – that it will probably fail. But I keep doing it anyway, saying you never know until the end. To be honest, I’m not really happy here. Sure there are some things I would like to keep – such as superb infrastructure, cheap public transportation, floor heating, cheap beauty products and service and medical insurance. Still, if I have a choice I’d rather live in States. Yes I know, US has not so impressive infrastructure, expensive insurance (subject to change, of course), lack of heating device other than radiator that dries heck out of your skin, immobility without a car, and so on. But I was happier there. People usually let me be. Here, everyone pushes me to be outsider and insider at the same time. I feel like the society here is pushing me to be something that I am not. Sorry folks, I can never be the nice, obedient Korean girl next door. While I do not deny my Korean self, I feel only about 20% of my self-consciousness is Korean, other 20% Japanese and 60% Midwestern American. And employers, please stop bragging how globalized you are, when your managers are narrow-minded Koreans.
Like I said before somewhere in this blog, if I am to go to grad school, I really want it to be my ticket out of this rat hole. But what’s the probability? About 10 years ago, the probability was high. After that , here I am, whose employer refused to sponsor my visa at the very last moment. Let’s say I get into one of those top law schools and graduate safely. Would I actually be able to settle down in States, or, at least, get to work with a group of people who are not solely made of Koreans and live in somewhere else? If that’s not possible, then what is the point? Obama, please do something about the immigration law. Damn my green South Korean passport. Maybe I should just buy off a man with American or European citizenship.
This is also my excuse of why there was no posting for a while on my blog.