Multinational executives offer career straight talk

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Multinational executives offer career straight talk

BUSAN - Despite the drizzle outside, the main conference hall, Pusan National University was crowded on Wednesday with more than 150 students whose eyes were blinking with mixed looks of curiosity, passion and concern. Many are in their final year at school, and the expressions on their faces looked a little grim at the prospect of their next step in life.

As part of efforts to provide job information to students who want to start their careers at foreign companies in Korea, the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (Amcham) put together its second “Innovation Camp” for PNU students after holding one at Chungbuk National University in April. The idea first came up late last year in the chamber’s Council on Innovation for the Future. While job market information is relatively accessible for university students in the capital and metropolitan areas, the council believed that wasn’t the case in other areas.

For its second event in Busan, Microsoft Korea Country Manager James Kim, Intel Korea President Lee Hee-sung, Amcham President Amy Jackson, Amway Korea Executive Director Cho Yang-hee and executives of other multinational corporations attended.

“It’s a very tough world out there,” said Kim, who kicked off the event with a 20-minute lecture about his background, the company, and what it takes to be a good worker and leader. Lee and Jackson were also featured speakers. “And it’s not just here in Busan or in Seoul, but even in the United States, Spain, Portugal and everywhere else.”

Kim told the students the fact they showed up at the Innovation Camp means they have “gained some competitive advantage” and “they are the ones who are going to be a lot more successful than people” who were not there.

Kim also offered some tips on preparing for their careers.

“If you’re interviewing at a company like Samsung or Hyundai, what you do in an interview is different,” he said. “When you have a meeting with an interviewer who can help you get a job, how many of you have sent a thank-you letter?

“In a Korean company, it may feel very unnatural to send a thank you e-mail to somebody, but in an American or non-Korean context it’s very common.”

Lee from Intel Korea advised the students to be prepared for a global mindset.

“James [Kim] and I are same age, 50, but the difference is that I was educated only in Korea,” Lee said. “I’m purely local but working for a multinational company, which shows there’s hope for you guys.”

He told students they shouldn’t stick to the idea they’ll only work in Korea.

Lee also shared the story of how he never had high grades when he was a university student studying engineering. Instead, he was a member of a drama club, spending time reading plays and doing performances for many audiences.

“Come to think of it, as a member of the drama club, I practiced business management,” he said. “When putting up a play, everything was about cooperation, person-to-person relationships and planning.”

The last lecture by Jackson was a message of hope to women students.

“Hang in there,” she said. “Having a family and full-time job is very difficult. Social structures available in the U.S. that assist women are only beginning in Korea.”

She added that American companies tend to be much more “gender-blind” than other companies.

Meanwhile, an official from Amcham said the third Innovation Camp will take place in Daegu in November. “Specific dates and the university haven’t been decided yet,” she said.

BY LEE EUN-JOO [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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