Korean Interns Thrive at New York Construction Company

King Rose Construction hosts international interns from a variety of academic backgrounds, but they all share one thing in common: they’re all Korean. In the past few years, the New York-based contracting company has been home to seven interns through Cultural Vistas’ Korea WEST program, which brings Korean university students to the United States to study English, intern in an American company, and travel.

King Rose has no formal ties to Korea, and the Korea WEST interns that they host rarely have experience specifically in construction. And yet, the company has found WESTies, as they are affectionately known, to be a perfect fit for their office. In the last year alone, the company has had four Korean interns.

“I just continue to get more interns from WEST, and they all meet my expectations and exceed it,” said Boyang Wang, internship supervisor and estimating coordinator at King Rose.

After months of English language training, the Korea WEST program places Koreans with American companies based on their academic background and interests. Over the past three years, almost 80 percent of these companies have been recurring hosts like King Rose.

Woohyun Nam poses with a King Rose sign. Nam has been interning at the company since May.

The idea is to help participants grow their resumes through international experience in a similar field.  This summer, King Rose hosted Woohyun Nam and Kipyo Kim, who are studying urban planning and international business, respectively.

“No matter what background they come from they can always get used to our environment and learn what we are doing,” said Wang. “They are always very passionate about their work.”

Nam and Kim both spent the majority of their internship in the estimating department with Wang as their mentor. They said the new skills they’ve picked up at King Rose, like project management and financial analysis, will be incredibly beneficial for their future careers.

Boyang Wang, King Rose’s estimating coordinator, has served as the internship supervisor for the office’s WESTies.

“It’s been my great chance to learn everything about American business,” said Kim. “And I want to work in a global company in the future so it will definitely help my future career.”

“Actually I want to work for a real estate company,” said Nam. “So [here] I can learn financial things and estimating things, so it will be very helpful for me.”

In addition to building their resume, WESTies are able to practice English outside of the classroom. Nam and Kim said improving their language fluency was a main goal when they applied Korea WEST. After months of living and interning in New York City, they both feel comfortable communicating in English.

The Korea WEST program is beneficial for host companies like King Rose, too. They said the global perspective, as well as the work ethic, of WESTies adds a lot to the office dynamic. “It broadens your horizons. It gives you a chance to grow and learn so many things from them, as well them from us. I think it’s a very beneficial program,” said Roseanne Luciano, King Rose’s logistics coordinator.

Boyang says he loves helping interns like Kipyo because it reminds him of when he first moved to the United States.

For Wang, mentoring Korea WEST interns is personal. He’s originally from China and settled down in the U.S. after attending graduate school here. However, he still remembers what it was like to adapt to a new culture and new language.

“[The interns] always remind me of how I felt when I first came to America,” said Wang. “So I’m always down to help them and I’m very excited to see them grow.”