A Beacon for YU Jobseekers
In the 304th issue, The Yeungnam Observer covered some issues concerning unemployment, irregular workers, and Youth Internship programs. The Korean youth employment rate is lower than the OECD average employment rate by 16%. This situation has been compounded by the global financial crisis. YU's graduate student employment rate is only 65% which is lower than Far East University (81.6%), Daegu University (67.5%), and Hankuk University of Foreign studies (71.9%). However, the Office of Students Development Services is making every effort to help YU students get good jobs. Oh-Sang Kwon is one of its staff members and is known on campus as "the godfather of employment".
How did you start to work here?
I graduated from university in 2002 and started work here on the 1st of July that same year. Actually, I had applied to about 60 companies before being hired here. I had no special reason for choosing to work in this department at the time, but I am quite satisfied with my job now.
Tell us about your work in more detail.
My task is kind of like building a bridge. I link companies and students. I communicate with companies and find out exactly what kind of students companies want to hire. It's more like being an information distributor than it is being a counselor. I also work on many programs that help YU students find employment, such as the Employment Frontier Press and the Employment Exposition.
Who was the most memorable student you have counseled?
That would have to be Dong-Il Kim (student number 95). He majored in Civil Engineering when he came to me for counseling. I helped him by conducting several practice interviews with him. As a result of all our practice, he got hired by a company, although now he is working at the Ulleung County Office as a public service officer. The reason I remember him is that I spent a lot of time with him when I first started here, and he achieved excellent results.
What are some of the difficulties you have when you counsel students?
Compared to last year's employment market, it is much more difficult to get a job. If a student still does not have a job 2 months after graduation they are counted as irregular workers. As you know, currently there are not many positions available for regular workers. However, many students are not willing to accept less than ideal jobs. They want the perfect job right away. I think that students themselves contribute to the problem sometimes.
What advice would you like to give students who will be looking for a job soon?
I think that English ability is the most important factor in finding employment. Although your grades in major classes are important, English is very important because many companies require good English skills in order to get hired. Therefore students should put a lot of effort into their English studies from the beginning of their university careers.
I also think that students need to be more confident because some of our students believe they are at a disadvantage because this is a local university. If you feel like you are being victimized by your education, you aren't going to be successful in an interview. Finally, when you apply to a company, you should try to find out as much about that company as you can and know what kind of employee they are looking for.
Many students would like to work at YU. What do you want to say to them?
I would first ask them what their motivations are for wanting to come on staff here. I would also tell them to really consider the university's plans for the future and how they see themselves fitting into that plan. YU has big plans for the future, and we will need enthusiastic people.
In 2009, what programs have you prepared?
In 2009, the College Competency Upgrade Program will provide more money for employment programs. So we have been able to start some free TOEIC speaking programs to help our students achieve better scores. Big companies like Samsung require good TOEIC speaking scores in order to be hired. I think these programs will be very helpful. We have also created a listing program in China. Our students will be able to post their resumes in cities all over China.
We usually see recruitment from large companies at the Job Section and Home Coming Day, but some students want to find careers in advertising or in the music industry. How can they prepare for those kinds of careers?
We would like to offer more support in these areas, but quite frankly there is very little demand. If there is more demand in the future we will certainly do our best to help those students.
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