“Chance favors the prepared mind,” said the 19-century scientist Louis Pasteur. This means that the way to prepare for success is through deliberate training and effort. Today, we want to introduce a student here at KDI School who is being prepared for such an endeavor. We hope you’ll be inspired by his interesting story.
Can you briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Jang Yuji. I am currently doing my master’s degree in public policy in KDI school. I graduated from the university in February 2019 and studied policy science at an undergraduate level.
I have always been interested in social activities since high school, so I participated in many volunteer activities and kid supporter activities. The more I volunteered for social events, the more I wanted to be a person who could resolve social issues on the front line. This is why I chose policy science for my undergraduate major.
During my college years, I tried to figure out how I could contribute back to society. I joined the Association of Legal Societies in my university and researched on the current policy status to submit proposals for better policies. I also served as a representative among student ambassadors for Anyang-city’s youth policy and won first place in the policy proposal competition.
What were you busy with before joining KDI School?
Right before my graduation, I wanted to have work experience in the field of policy making. Fortunately, I was able to work in the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry as an intern for six months.
I was in charge of the Tomorrow Mutual Aid for Young Employees program (청년내일채움공제). This welfare system promotes the inflow of unemployed young people into small and medium-sized enterprises and helps young workers work long-term to build their assets.
As an intern in charge of this youth program, I saw many problems with the system. Unlike today, there were not enough options for the youth, and it was difficult for young people to sign up again once they canceled the program. Although I was a six-month intern, I submitted a report on the problems I saw to help more young people.
I started my own business, a social enterprise to support firefighters when I got back to school. It expanded my knowledge of design and business management while doing design business that promoted firemen’s rights.
After graduation, I worked at the Yeouido Institute. Based on my experience, I observed the issues arising from political circles. I concisely designed the materials on the current situation regarding political matters for the politicians belonging to the party.
The most memorable thing I did was analyze the popularity of Pengsu, the Korean character famous among young generations, and reported strategies of Pengsu’s fame that the party might be able to apply. I remember my report appearing on TV news.
In the long run, it was hard for me to continue this work because I wanted to commit to my studies. So, during the first semester, I decided to quit this job.
Why did you choose KDI School?
I want to follow Professor Yoon, Hee-sook’s career. She is one of my idols. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I chose KDI school. I want to become a professional economist and give back to my country.
How do you find KDI school so far?
I feel great pride to be able to study at the government-funded Research Institute before embarking on my Ph.D. When I was in a political party, I studied according to the party line, but since I am in KDIS, I have learned new and more things from a neutral standpoint.
Besides, I was not confident in English, but I think it has improved a lot since I had classes in English and continued to speak it to the people around me. As a KDIS student, I want to say that I have broadened my perspectives more diversely. As I study with public officers from different countries, I can observe and understand world trends more deeply. KDIS has an excellent human infrastructure. With its network, I can study with current government officials, which have made me more focused on my vision. I hear stories from incumbent government officials and learn more about the country’s current situation and become more firm about the direction I want to pursue.
Currently, I am taking finance-related subjects at school. At Yeouido institute, I heard that there was just the problem of a looming national finance issue. Still, after studying, I realized that the national fund plays a significant role in making policies. I want to have financial expertise since it is essential to distribute the national fund effectively for better governance. Soon I will join the army as an Air Force officer, and would like to get an accounting certificate and work as a financial specialist there. I want to study policy more deeply after building practical skills and knowledge for three years in military service.
Do you have any words for new students coming in this fall semester?
To Korean students, “Do not cower and be confident!” I was intimidated and couldn’t speak well in class at first. It was because of my anxiety that I would be judged based on my English. But I soon realized that I shouldn’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to ask questions since there are no wrong ones. The more you ask, the more you will grow.
To international students, I hope you experience everything that Korea has to offer during your time here. There are many beautiful places and places rich in history even outside of Seoul. Korea has four distinct seasons and is a beautiful country of mountains and the sea.