Interview with Jaesung Yoon (Korean Chamber of Commerce)

Interview with Jaesung Yoon (Korean Chamber of Commerce)

Please introduce yourself.

Hi, my name is Jaesung Yoon. I graduated from Hanyang University in August, 2017 with a bachelor’s in International Studies. I am currently working as an intern in the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KOCHAM) in the USA. Upon termination of my current contract, the performance review that I receive will determine whether I will stay on as a regular employee. In the meantime, I am in the process of exploring other options that will ensure a permanent stay in the United States.

What is your current position and how did you apply for it?

The Korean Chamber of Commerce is situated on Park Avenue in New York. I started working in August but had to arrive in the U.S. a few weeks earlier due to a separate program I did at the UN. My main duties include composing documents and press releases, organizing seminars and conferences, liaison duties, and pretty much any other administrative functions that may fall within the responsibilities of an intern.

I learned about the job opening from the Hanyang Office of International Affairs (a separate entity from the DIS administration office). I had participated in a government-sponsored internship program to the Korean embassy to the Philippines, and upon returning home I was interviewed by the school magazine ‘사랑한대’. Subsequently, the office of international affairs introduced me to a private agency that connects job openings located overseas with Korean students, and after a number of rejections from various organizations, I was able to land a position in the Korean Chamber of Commerce.

What did you learn most from the experience?

Aside from a 6-months internship that I did for the Korean embassy, this is the first time that I will be staying in a foreign country for a long period of time. So pretty much every day is filled with new experiences. Perhaps the biggest perk of being affiliated with KOCHAM is that due to the nature of my work, I get to meet high-ranking managers of Korean businesses, and the American counterparts from the private/governmental sectors that they interact with. KOCHAM has regional offices in Michigan, Georgia and Washington aside from the headquarters in New York, and its main function is to advance the trade and business relations between Korea and the U.S. by way of managing a complicated network involving corporations, financial institutions, non-profits, and the governments of both countries. So the work demands a lot of careful attention, and there is no compromise regarding even the slightest errors. But it’s very interesting and exciting.

What kinds of difficulty did you experience while engaging in this work?

The application process and requirements for working in an American company (or a Korean entity located in America) is very different from working for a company in Korea. If you desire to go abroad for employment, I suggest you consult with people and organizations that have had previous experience.

It may seem unclear where to start, but there are many people who are willing to help students if only they have the enthusiasm to dedicate themselves in these endeavors. There are of course, various contingencies involved, many of which are beyond your control.

It certainly is a risk to allocate your time and energy in trying to go abroad, and there is a considerable chance that you may not succeed, despite your best efforts. You also need to take into account the requirements for relocation, tasks such as obtaining a visa, long-term accommodations, a local bank account, which are just a small sample of the numerous things you have to prepare. So if and when you consider a career path such as mine, I would say the most important difficulty would be making sure you have a lot of options, to arrange a plan B and C in case your most preferred course does not work out. Consult with your professors, your fellow students, your department office, private agencies, and others. It’s important to avoid having all your eggs in one basket.

How did DIS major help attribute to your career?

The Division of International Studies is, in my opinion, vastly unappreciated compared to the considerable potential it can have to its students. For me personally, the DIS significantly improved my command of the English language, and provided me with the principle knowledge and insight required for an international career track.

One of the biggest advantages of the DIS is that its curriculum encompasses a wide range of different subjects, including politics, diplomacy, economics, management, marketing, law, and so many more. Though this broad spectrum brings with it the side effect that there is a limitation in the depth of education the school can provide to each subject, I believe the option itself, to be able to choose which field you feel more comfortable with after having the chance to explore them, is a privilege very few students have access to.

Of course, it should also go without saying that a background in International Studies gives a certain advantage in applying for positions and programs overseas. I have participated in short- and long-term programs for NGOs, diplomatic missions, the UN, and now the Korean Chamber of Commerce to the U.S., and these opportunities would have been much harder to seize had I not been a student of the DIS.

For those of you seeking tips on what kind of courses to take to advance your competencies in such a direction, I would recommend that you direct your attention to courses provided by Professor Ryoo, Professor Ahn, and Professor Saxer. Although all courses in the DIS are indispensable, I have found that the lectures from these professors have greatly enhanced my comprehension of management, economics, and political science respectively.

Any further recommendations for DIS students?

I would advise DIS students to never neglect the value of human networks and relationship management.

I am aware that networking is frowned upon by some people, and I myself belonged to that opinion for quite some time. I am not proud to admit this, but I alienated myself from fellow students and their community after finishing my military service. But all the experiences that I’ve garnered were made possible by what few people that I knew. Their opinions regarding my capabilities turned out to be very important. I cannot imagine what kind of accomplishments I could have achieved had I valued relationships at an earlier age.

I strongly recommend DIS students to make a constant effort to manage this intangible resource, to maintain a constructive link with the people you meet in your lives.

If there are any students who would like to consult with me, feel free to contact me at It will be my pleasure to help fellow DIS students in any way that I can.

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