In August, the Port of Portland welcomed two students from Inha University in South Korea, as part of the Port’s successful internship program with Korea.
Claire Kim, a senior at Inha and Sooyoun Lee, a junior, are studying logistics – while learning the fundamentals of the Port during their four month stay. Rotating through many different departments at the Port, Kim and Lee are learning how to conduct cargo market research, apply for building permits, process land acquisitions, and analyze project data, among other marine-related assignments.
Both interns are fascinated by the American culture. There is a sense of liberty and individuality that stems from creating your own destiny and following your dreams in life. From their perspective, success is close within reach. They also expressed how pleased they are to see so many successful women in the workplace. “I look up to women who are working toward achieving their dreams,” said Kim. Lee agreed, “It’s very inspirational to see, especially at the Port.”
Another cultural difference Lee points out is how easy it is for people in America to change careers, if it means following their dreams. In general, people seem happy in their personal lives, and at work,” said Lee. “There seems to be a healthy work-life balance here.”
When asked what they enjoy most about their visit, Lee explained, “the clean, crisp air, nice weather, having no sales tax, The Rack, and Portland’s authentic food cart scene.” After devouring her first American cheeseburger from a mobile food cart in downtown Portland, she expressed, “it was heavenly – pure heaven.” Sooyoun was also fascinated to see Port employee’s bringing food from their home to barbeque at work one sunny afternoon. “It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen – someone barbequing at work.”
Both interns came to the Port to learn and develop new skills, while spurring career opportunities that will serve them well into the future. “Although I didn’t have many goals when I first arrived,” says Lee, “now that I’m here, I know exactly what I want to do. I’ve discovered so much about myself in the short period of time I’ve been here.”
After graduation, they would like to work for the Korean Airport Authority or a government organization working in logistics. Kim admits that although she is still trying to learn who she is, she knows that she is on the right path. “When I meet people from different cultures, I’m able to see myself objectively, and I appreciate that. I like being able to view myself from a different lens – it helps me learn more about who I am.”
Kim and Lee go back to school in the fall. Both considered this year as their gap-year, which is a period of time many students take off to find themselves and learn what their passion is in life. They set out on a journey to define who they are, and trust in the opportunities that come their way.
In honor of the popular Korean motto: “Nam e sa,” or 남 이 사, which means have no worries in life, Kim and Lee strive to live without worry or regret, and take chances on their journey in life, trusting that their skills and abilities will lead them to success.