For most international students at KDI School, life after graduation or completion means returning to their home countries and jumpstarting their career with their freshly minted degree. But some international alumni choose to remain in Korea after graduation to seek opportunities here.
South Korea is currently the hub for innovation and global leaders of the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It also hosts a number of international organizations, thus attracting some of the best and the brightest from all over the world.
THE GLOBE catches up with two of our most recent batch of alumni, who both joined a growing number of KDIS alumni based in different companies here in Korea.
Fatima Moussas (2017 MPP, Morocco) is currently an Intern at the Green Climate Fund in the Songdo International Business District in Incheon. Meanwhile, Sarfaraz Ahmad (2015 MDP, India) is working for a Seoul-based company.
They share with us some of their experiences from being international students to expats in South Korea.
THE GLOBE: What motivated you to stay in Korea after finishing studies at KDI School?
Fatima: I chose to stay in Korea because it offers real opportunities for learning that will allow me to quickly start my career. It has reputable international organizations that are attracting students and professionals and rewarding their talent. The high Income, quality of social services, and safety that the Country offers are also important factors that made me take the decision of staying in South Korea.
Sarfaraz: I chose to stay in Korea because I felt that there are much more to learn from Korea. As I spend more time in Korea, I get to understand many aspects of it in a better way, be it experiencing Korean culture well, learning more about its economic and social development or anything else. I believe after having a direct learning experience, implementation in our respective countries would be easier.
THE GLOBE: How would you describe working in Korea as a foreigner?
Fatima: I would say that working in Korea as a foreigner is a little bit challenging if you do not speak the Korean language. Also, Koreans are a little bit shy with foreigners so one of the major problems that I see as a foreigner is the interaction with the Korean society. However, the country as a whole provides several privileges to foreigners. Public transportation is clean, punctual and secure. Everything is convenient, the city is hyper-connected with the best network in the world and you have applications for all types of services.
Sarfaraz: Working in Korea so far as a foreigner has been quite challenging and interesting for me simultaneously. I’m getting used to Korean hardworking and fast-paced culture that we call “pali-pali (빨리 빨리)” in Korean.
THE GLOBE: How did KDIS prepare you for your current job?
Fatima: KDI School was my first interaction with the Development Sector. Lectures from KDI School Faculty, research papers, and interaction with colleagues were of a big help to forge my technical and personal skills by which I was able to successfully pass several interviews. Also, the diverse multicultural setting in KDI School prepared me very well to work in a multicultural setting, and deal with people from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds. I was also very honored by hearing that several hiring managers are familiar with KDI School and the high quality of its graduates.
Sarfaraz: KDI School, I would say have prepared me to work not only in South Korea but in any other part of the world as well. I have always appreciated the very highly qualified and well-experienced professors that we have had at the school. The courses I have been taught have to increase me in my knowledge tremendously.
THE GLOBE: Any tips you want to share with other international students who might be interested in working in Korea in the future?
Fatima: My advice for students who are trying to find a job in Korea is to make searches and apply very early, before graduation. I would also recommend attending the seminars as well as the Special lectures hosted by KDI. I would also highly recommend students to make frequent consultation with their Academic Advisors and be open to receive advice, guidance, and directions.
Sarfaraz: If I’m asked to give any piece of advice, I would suggest you get used to Korean culture. Try to make Korean friends and learn Korean language and most importantly, never stop believing that you are awesome and capable of doing anything you wish.
By Ranel Ram CHENG (MPP 2016, Philippines)