As we all know, Seoulbeats is currently recruiting for new staff, so what better time to hear from current staff on how their experience has been like so far. As prospective applicants are meticulously putting their applications together, I’m sure they would like to hear what the initiation process was like from those who have been through it. Go back to when you first applied for Seoulbeats, the excitement and/or dread you felt when you first saw the recruitment post.
What made you decide to go for it and apply? If you could travel back in time, what words of wisdom would you give to yourself?
Gaya: I didn’t come to through Seoulbeats via the traditional channels, but if I had my time over I would have definitely applied for and gone through training. I managed OK without formal training — mostly thanks to a patient SB team — but I still had a very steep learning curve. With that experience in mind, I can say that having that extra guidance when first starting out with Seoulbeats is extremely valuable, as it helps you get a grasp on things that much quicker. We’re also continually refining the process to make sure everyone is getting the most out of it; and for all the extra work involved in running it, the training process is still pretty exciting and fun!
Writers often joke about “the hell that is training,” but I honestly believe that, if you have the time and dedication, it is a very worthwhile and rewarding experience.
Leslie: I also didn’t come through traditional channels, though I did go through training. I submitted a guest post that was something we had talked about before so it wasn’t published, but I was asked if I was interested in training to join the staff as a writer.
At first, I was hesitant since I was in my last quarter of my degree at the time, but I figured, Why not? I love K-pop and always make time for it — even when I technically shouldn’t have that time and should be doing more productive things (i.e. school) — so writing about it felt like a natural choice.
If I could go back in time though, I would definitely give myself a specific word of advice: RELAX. I was so, so worried about making mistakes and took training a little too seriously. Of course, it’s definitely a time to put forth a lot of effort and hard work, but none of us are perfect. The training process is a great way to grow and improve as a writer and also as a consumer of K-pop. You learn a lot about the technical aspects of what you’re writing along with different ways to approach the music and shows that you consume, and I probably would have enjoyed that way more if I had been less nervous.
So if you’re worried about making mistakes or not being the best writer, relax. None of us bite, and we’re all very patient and willing to help out!
Lo: My story is a little darker, but here goes. I applied in the last round, and it was coming out of a dark time in my life. I was depressed and isolated, to the point that I could easily go a week without speaking to anyone outside class. I lived almost entirely through internet lurking, too depressed and anxious to comment most of the time. When I applied to Seoulbeats, I honestly didn’t think I’d make it past the first round, but I felt I had to try. For six months, Seoulbeats and Arrow were my only real ties to the world, and the applications being accepted just as I was getting to a place where I could apply felt… like a sign, I guess.
I think I would tell myself to try to stop feeling afraid. I applied with my self-worth in the toilet, and spent most of my time in training waiting for everyone already here to see how pathetic I was, and that fear held me back a lot. All in all, though, applying to Seoulbeats was one of the three best decisions I’ve ever made.
Willis: Like Lo, I didn’t think my application would make it past the first round either. During the last Seoulbeats application period, I was working a ton of overtime hours for my regular day job. I had a hectic schedule but wanted to feel engaged in some type of community outside of my monotonous routine life. I always enjoyed reading articles on Seoulbeats, so I thought the site would be a great outlet for improving my writing skills while discussing a topic I liked — K-pop.
If I could jump into a time traveling police box and go back to earlier this year, I would tell past me to put myself out there more in my writing. I was a worry wart during the first few months of writing for Seoulbeats. I spent so much time double guessing myself, worrying about what the other writers and editors may think, and about how the readers would feel. After a certain point, I realized this apprehension and doubt was hindering me from speaking my truest sentiments. Basically if I could go back, I would tell myself to relax. The words I write are an expression of my opinion, and not everyone will agree with it — and that’s fine!
Andy: I almost didn’t even apply during the last recruitment. I had no confidence in my writing, but my friend kept encouraging me to apply. I was surprised when I was informed that I would go into training. Training was not nearly as difficult and nerve-wracking as I expected it to be. Patricia was great to work with, and I could see myself evolving. I still do. Although I still think my writing is lacking, my confidence has grown. Like Willis, if I could go back and tell myself anything, it would be to relax. Also, not to be so afraid. The Seoulbeats staff isn’t as scary or intimidating as they appear.
K-pop has become a sort of escape for me from life, so I always did enjoy talking about it. Writing for Seoulbeats has allowed me to express myself more and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. It’s also helped with my terrible shyness. If anybody is still on the ropes about applying, they should have a little courage. No risk, no reward. Working with the SB team is definitely rewarding.
Leslie: That seems to be a common thing for all of us. I guess sometimes the staff as a whole might come across to other people as taking everything (but especially our K-pop) a little too seriously and thus might be intimidating.
But we’re all just dorks who spend way too much time obsessing over idols and dramas. We just happen to write about it, too.
Mark: I was still pretty new to K-pop when I first applied to Seoulbeats and I didn’t think I had enough knowledge to be part of the team. However, that changed really quickly. Being on the team not only challenged me in my writing, but also in my ability to parse and present facts and details. Our readers are very tumultuous about pointing out the smallest of errors in the comments and I allowed that sort of rigorous standard to push me in my writing. It’s the type of feedback you would never get writing essays for class that’s partially skimmed by a professor (if you’re lucky) or a TA.
Laverne: I’ve always enjoyed writing but being a science major didn’t allow for the more relaxed type of writing that I liked and I’m so lucky that Seoulbeats has allowed to me pursue that. In fact, writing for Seoulbeats helped me develop my writing skills further and although I was intimidated at the thought of applying, I’m really glad I did.
If I could go back, I’d definitely encourage the past me to be more confident in my writing. Although I was (and still am) growing as a writer, there really weren’t any reasons to be so intimidated. Good writing takes time and effort, no one is an award winning writer right from the get-go.
Camiele: For my part, I got my degree in English writing and started doing freelance my sophomore year so I’d been writing professionally for a little over seven years before I decided to give Seoulbeats a shot. I’m also an editor by trade, my biggest source of income being the editing and design work I do for a publishing house. Needless to say, the money and experience as far as that goes wasn’t something I even considered when I decided to answer the last open call Seoulbeats had. However, I was sort of in a K-pop rut. My favorite group was the group that got me into K-pop: DBSK. For the past four years I’ve been going through the madness that is JYJ and fandom.
This is an opportunity for you to learn more about a genre that continues to grow. To be a part of a group of writers who at least want to try to look deeper than the prettiness, the flash, the aegyo, and delve into the depths of K-pop, giving it the validity and scrutiny of genres that people tend to take more seriously. The site gets a lot of flack for forcing readers to push beyond what they want to or never thought to question. But the truth is I picked SB over any other K-pop website to write for because, whether people like it or not, SB forces you to consider those things that you may not want to because, “Hey, I just got into K-pop to have a good time, and I’m honestly feeling so attacked right now.”
If you want to join a website who’s sole purpose is to give you news and a few soundbites that will get readers on their side, you may want to explore your options. If you want to join a website that will make you step a bit outside of your box to contemplate things that you never would have and teach you to appreciate the genre for everything that it is, even when everything you say may be judged and ridiculed because it doesn’t jibe with popular conjecture, join Seoulbeats. In the end, it’ll validate your love of the genre and even give you a better appreciation of things you never imagined you would.
Remember, applications close at 11:59 PM (EST) on Sunday, October 19th; good luck to everyone applying!
(Images via: KBS, Woollim Entertainment, SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, MBC)