Showing the Way to Korean Global Companies
BY SEIHOON LEE, SECRETARY
Minseong Kang, a sophomore majoring in management, recently finished his two-month internship at SK Innovation, a petroleum refining company. SK Innovation is part of the SK group, one of the biggest conglomerates in South Korea. Kang’s experience brings hope and inspiration to GMU Korea students, as Korean students, who make up the majority of the student body, one day hope to find themselves working for one of Korea’s globally renowned conglomerates.
Kang’s journey began in early June, after being discharged from 21 months of obligatory military service. Returning to school as a second semester sophomore, he was wondering what he could do in the meantime till classes started again in the fall. Just in time, the Career Development Center (CDC) was looking for two GMU Korea students to work for SK Incheon Petrochem, an affiliate of SK Innovation. Without hesitating, Kang applied, hoping to test and stretch his abilities in one of Korea’s biggest conglomerates.
Kang’s time at SK Innovation obviously came with hardships, as many male students would relate to their difficulties in returning to academic activities after their discharge. Especially, while working in the Finance team of the petrochemistry industry, Kang had to learn on the spot how to carry out tasks concerning financial management, fund usage, and foreign exchange exposure. Although Kang’s only education in finance had been the ACCT 200-level course, Kang praised the company’s level of expertise and professionalism as he was able to learn in an environment with several talented Korean employees. Though his education before the internship was not sufficient to take him to a higher level in financial knowledge, Kang notes that he learned many soft skills, such as communication and how to socialize in a Korean company.
Each year, thousands of talented candidates from the most prestigious universities in Korea compete to work for the largest companies in Korea. It is common knowledge that most of the employees are chosen from Korea’s SKY universities or from the Ivy League. What’s more is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for humanities students to win out over natural sciences or engineering students in the race to get a foot in the company door. Despite all of this discouraging news, there is still hope. Kang realized that those who do not have the objective advantages in their field are equipped with other skills, such as foreign languages. His fellow SK Innovation interns even advised lower classmen to attain certificates and licenses affiliated with the natural science or engineering sector. Whatever brings more skills to the table helps.
The lessons learned at SK Innovation from skilled employees taught him that while professional licenses and grades are most important, Kang advises, borrowing the words from his senior employees.
“What exceeds the physical qualifications is a serious thought about one’s career,” Kang said. “While what I desire to do is among the important criteria, examining to see if the career I hope to pursue is promising or sustainable is a significant factor to consider when looking into the future.”