Leave for somewhere unfamiliar…
Away from your old daily routines.
— extracts from a poem by Korean poet, Ko Un
Even for someone who works in one of the most dynamic industries in a very vibrant city, there comes a time when you have to leave all that is familiar. You can be busy and still be in a rut. You can be working with new things and still feel bored. The Daniel J. Edelman Global Fellows opportunity came at a time when the need for change was most dire, and I am glad that I can now move forward with my career in a completely different environment.
After jumping over the moon a couple of times, I am now back to earth transitioning off my work at home, applying for a visa and making futile attempts to predict the unpredictable as I prepare for a completely different year.
Here are a few things I hope to finalize in the coming weeks to be fully engage in my global fellowship:
One of the most refreshing pieces of advice I’ve heard from previous Fellows and global leaders is: discard your own agenda and just jump right into it. So I prepared the most basic guidelines and will be flexible to adjust as I move along:
1. Improve my own cultural intelligence and assist others in enhancing theirs
2. Develop an understanding of corporate affairs in the U.S.
3. Observe the U.S. presidential election in action
Thinking about the infinite possibilities is certainly exciting, and I am eager to find out where the path will lead.
I hope to empty myself as much as possible so that I may absorb all that is new. Along with unnecessary belongings, I plan to leave behind the following: ego, assumption that I know how things are done, fear of the unknown, overthinking and second-guessing and perhaps even some well-meant, but unhelpful, advice (“You are going to have such a hard time! Brace yourself!” — I am already quite nervous, thank you).
CHOOSING WHAT TO HOLD ON TO
Now with only a month before my departure, I find myself looking more deeply into Korea and the work we do in the Seoul office. What are the unique aspects of the Korean culture? What sets me apart? What are we doing in Seoul that could inspire the work I will do in the U.S.? What are some of the issues in Northeast Asia that could be of interest?
Initially, I imagined spending what time I have left in Korea learning about my new destination. I did this part of the time, which included watching House of Cards (a colleague in D.C. kindly assured me that there’s much less blackmail in Washington than in the show). However, I realized that as much as I would like to ‘fit in’ with my new environment, it would be more important to show up differently as a Fellow.
I am very lucky to be able to take this huge step in my career within the Edelman family — comforted by the support from my home office, empowered by the encouragement from the global committee and assured by the warm welcome of my host office. So many Edelman-ers around the network expressed excitement and have offered to lend me a helping hand. Now I finally have the courage to say annyeong (안녕; 安寧) Seoul, and hello, Washington D.C.!
Alicia Kim is a Daniel J. Edelman Fellow from Edelman’s Seoul office, who will be working in Washington D.C.