[Student Voices]Look beyond borders

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[Student Voices]Look beyond borders

It’s very tough to get a job in Korea, as most job applicants crowd into only a few popular career areas such as finance, business positions in well-known corporations or government service for the high salaries and better job security they offer. In fact, only a small number of applicants each year land their dream jobs.

For instance, there was a total of 9,764 college graduates who applied for 70 openings at Korea Exchange Bank this year. This means that the other 9,694 applicants were rejected. Are they hopeless losers who should give up competing in the job market? Are there alternatives?

If you are young and passionate, you can choose to look abroad instead of limiting your options to Korea ? you could expand your horizons.

There are many ways to become attractive in the international job market. Finding a job abroad could be easier than trying to get into the tiny circle of lucky applicants who made it into KEB. One good way is to obtain international credentials such as getting licensed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or as a chartered financial analyst. As more Korean companies enter the global market and more international companies enter Korea, international accounting regulations are also becoming standardized for an emerging global capital market. Therefore, there is a huge demand for professionals in related areas.

I am currently studying for an AICPA license while simultaneously working as a public servant in the city of Daegu. I believe obtaining this credential is the best way to become an internationally competitive person. I even attend a private CPA institute in Seoul, which is quite far from the city where I live.

At the institute I have met many students who are studying for the AICPA while working in jobs. Some of them work at well-known companies such as LG and GSK. It seems for these students, it’s not the salary nor job security that drives them to go on. It is their dream of becoming an international figure like Muhammad Yunus, the winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. He created an innovative banking program that makes small loans to poor people for launching businesses and lifting their families out of poverty.

It is hard to become another Muhammad Yunus, but there are countless ways to make your way to an international career. Participating as a staff member or interpreter at international events like meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or getting experience through international internships are good ways to build networks for future opportunities. Getting international certificates coupled with a high level of competence in languages will differentiate you from others in the international job market.

However, what would make you really distinctive is your way of thinking. Think of the 6 billion people in the world who are in need of your help. Think globally and positively; you could give much to the world.

Being Korean does not necessarily mean working and living in Korea. There are limitless opportunities awaiting us outside our borders.

Heesoo Yeo, one of my former classmates currently studying at the State University of New York-Buffalo, agrees with my ideas. He is also preparing to become a CPA in the U.S., and volunteers to help low-income people with tax returns, for free.

His effects might be not as big as Muhammad Yunus’ work, but he is already a global citizen.

It’s no use getting depressed about failing to get into the 70 openings at KEB or other similar companies. The time spent preparing for the government bar exam may also be not so meaningful if you are just hoping to go into law for job security.

If you are young, you should believe in your potential and get closer to your dreams. The world is waiting for more young people to build a better future.


*University of Delaware/Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

by Benjamin Minsuk Kim
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