Never a Typical Case

Posted: 10th February 2012 by admin in Uncategorized

Sorry for the messy format!  Original posting with more clean format can be found on

Getting so many rejection letters, I think it’s time to rant sort out my thoughts once again.

The tough thing about being a TCK is that you are never a “typical case” in almost anything. Google up about going to American law school. There are myriad of articles about how law schools are scamming people, how it’s waste of money, and how it’s worthless. True. A lot of American law school graduates are suffering from unemployment, whether they went to Harvard or some unknown, out-of-ranking school (yes, the ranking itself isn’t very trustworthy, I know).

But does that apply to me? Am I an applicable case to this?

Not really, because I am not an American citizen, though I have American educational background.If I were an American citizen with family and settled life in the US, I would not have considered going to law school as a good option at this point. I would rather get a whatever job that comes first. But I’m not an American. But I can’t cope with Korean business culture. I’m in-betweener.

From experience, I know the so-called “common case” never applies to me.

At the end of my college senior year, I had a job interview. An alum – international like myself – was working there. I did well in the interview. I had a plenty of skills matching to their job description. So, according to the textbook, I should have gotten a job. That did not happen. The key was, I am not a citizen. I graduated from an American college with great reputation. So even if I did not get that job, I should have received several interview offers. That did not happen either, because of my vague status.

In States, I was still the “international” whom they had to sponsor visa, or unable to apply at all. How about in Korea? Koreans tend to think that if the school’s name is not familiar, it’s not a great school. In addition, the American schools are valued a bit differently from US; a school that is not very highly regarded in the States sometimes transforms itself a very good Ivy-League-ish school, just because they have a lot of Korean alums or people are familiar with the name. In Korea, many people haven’t even heard about my school’s name.

The different job interview styles were pretty traumatic for me. In college, I was trained in American job interview – where you are there to chat, and all is fine as long as you don’t make them think you are a psycho. But I had to face Korean style job interviews, where everything is very formal, interviewers are able to compare candidates in real time, and most cases where candidates are expected to get the “correct answer” to the questions. I attended whole lot of interview prep sessions, but certainly I was not prepared to be surprised by the different styles of interview. I didn’t even know there are different ways. So no wonder why I ended up shocking Japanese job opening promoter by asking “so, is your job interview more of western or Asian way?”

I know job market in America is horrible now. I totally agree when someone says “don’t bet too much on getting a job in America as a Korean international after law school,” because I was in a similar situation.

But again, my aim is slightly different. Many law school students/candidates aim to find a job within America first, and they are citizens. I’m not a citizen. Getting a job in America isn’t my priority. Actually I will be much happier if I get placed into somewhere else. Many Korean international law students aim to come back to Korea and work. That’s not high on my list either. And I just can’t seem to find a solid resource on case like myself.

I have received multiple rejection letters from schools I wanted to go. It’s irritating. But, like I mentioned before, being atypical case, maybe not getting into a school that is considered highly in US is better for me. Maybe I will end up going some school that is not considered very highly in US, but highly in Korea.

What’s most irritating is that there seem to be no resource for me, and I just have to keep on sailing, without knowing what’s ahead – tropical island or shortcut to hell.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Janneke,  wow, you have certainly jumped into your interest boots and all!  Your blog site is very very well put together.  I am taking my daughter out to lunch in a minute, so have only read a few little bits and pieces of the sorts of things you are writing about and interested in, but am looking forward to following up on alot of the links you provide.  I have just read through the 30 pages you posted on the new book – thank you so much for providing this.  From something you wrote in your blog, I see you are quite interested in keeping the definition of Third Culture Kid accurate:  you might be interested in reviewing a thesis length article I am writing on the use of this term:  I wrote a thesis on this subject in 1979, and last year came across all this TCK stuff on the web:  I have many ideas that are not really written about in the literature I have come across so far.  I got distracted by other projects, and am only half way through, but it sounds to me like you would be a fantastic reader/analyser of material, and maybe you would like to give me feedback when I get the piece more pulled together (another month or so……) – off to lunch.  Warmly, Genevieve