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Kook-Hyun Lee

YoungLimWon Soft Lab

For everyone, life is an incessant sequence of challenges and continual transformations. My life at present, where I am balancing work, childcare, and graduate studies, is no different.

Last autumn, I stumbled upon an opportunity to apply for graduate school. At my company, if certain conditions are met, employees are eligible to apply for the MS in Technology Management program (MSTM) at the State University of New York (SUNY) Stony Brook after undergoing an internal evaluation process. Upon enrollment in graduate school, employees can benefit from an excellent welfare system that covers not only tuition fees for each semester but also the costs of overseas program fees and living expenses at the campus in New York.

Despite the availability of such an excellent welfare system, I had hesitated to apply all this time due to the weight of balancing work, parenting, and academics. However, with the growing realization that I needed to take on this challenge before it’s too late, I decided to apply, and luckily, I was accepted at Stony Brook. And so, my journey of juggling work, parenting, and academics has begun.

Graduate school life, which I entered through a great opportunity, felt refreshingly new to me in various aspects.

The MSTM program at SUNY Stony Brook is structured to allow students to balance it with their jobs in South korea, comprising three domestic semesters and three weeks of classes at the campus in New York.

With the exception of the overseas program in New York, all of the courses were conducted through a combination of online and offline methods in South Korea. During the first semester, I took subjects covering cutting-edge technology, ethics in management, finance, statistics, international trends, leadership and intellectual property rights. Because of my strong interest in ethical management, leadership and artificial intelligence, the curriculum proved to be highly beneficial. In particular, the inclusion of diverse case studies in each class allowed me to gain a broader perspective and a deeper understanding of various aspects of business management by examining real-life examples from different companies. It was a valuable experience that greatly expanded my knowledge and outlook.

Beyond classes, there is other aspect that have a positive impact on me. I have come to know many enthusiastic colleagues who are full of knowledge and passion through this program. Every class, I am exposed to various experiences and perspectives from my classmates, who are experts in their respective fields, which serves as a great source of inspiration for me. I feel that I am growing and evolving by sharing positive energy with my classmates.

After a particularly busy first semester with classes, assignments, and exams every weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a three-week overseas program in New York in July. I’d like to briefly share my experiences.

SUNY Stony Brook is located in the Long Island region of New York. This was my first visit to New York, and I had initially expected everything in New York to be glamorous. However, Long Island pleasantly surprised me with its tranquility and its close connection with nature.

During the overseas program, I took a total of four courses, including Leadership & Effective Team Communication and Marketing. One of the key observations I made while attending classes was that the United States places a stronger emphasis on active participation in class compared to Korea and utilizes a wide range of teaching methods.

Particularly, I found the teaching methods in the Leadership and Marketing courses to be quite distinctive. The Leadership class was conducted in a role-playing format where all students continuously asked and answered questions throughout the session. As someone more accustomed to lecture-style classes, this approach felt refreshingly new and engaging. In the Marketing course, I was given various case studies, and I had the opportunity to make marketing decisions, differentiate between right and wrong approaches within those scenarios, and ultimately research how to achieve successful marketing strategies. I believe that the knowledge gained through this case-based teaching style will stay with me for a long time.

During the overseas program, I had the opportunity to visit Canon USA. While at Canon USA, I received presentations on the company’s overview, recent major issues, and key product lines. Among the intriguing facts I learned during the visit was that Canon’s top revenue generator is calculators, which was quite unexpected for me. Until then, I had thought that Canon’s primary source of income came from cameras, copiers, projectors, and similar products.  I later discovered that Canon was the first company in the world to commercialize the digit calculator, and its impact continues to have a significant influence on their revenue.

Coming to New York, I couldn’t just stick to studying!

My classmates and I took advantage of the weekends during the program to explore Manhattan and nearby cities.

In Manhattan, there were so many things to do, see, and eat that we had to budget our time carefully. We ended up walking nearly 30,000 steps in a day, experiencing most of what a tourist could do. Here are some of the highlights of our adventures.

One day, as part of the schedule, I visited Boston, home to globally renowned universities like Harvard, and MIT. The moment I set foot on the campuses of these world-class institutions was truly exhilarating.  Especially when I visited Harvard, the sense of grandeur and the feeling of being at a place known for having the ‘best students in the world’ were palpable the moment I stepped onto the campus.

One peculiar aspect was that there were no visible ‘Harvard’ signs anywhere on or around the campus. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was overwhelming, and through this experience, I could deeply understand why the best in the world is truly the best.

As each day passed quickly, before I knew it, the overseas program was coming to an end. The final event was the graduation photo shoots, marking the conclusion of the three-week program at the campus in New York.

I spent a short yet seemingly long time in New York, during which I learned a lot and experienced significant personal growth. While I felt a sense of regret on my journey back to Korea, on the other hand, I was also delighted to return to my everyday life with work and family, carrying the energy I had gained from my time in New York.

Looking back, the past six months from enrolling in graduate school to visiting New York have passed by so quickly that it’s hard to believe. During this time, I have acquired knowledge from various fields, deepened my understanding of business as a whole, and drawn inspiration from my passionate classmates. Above all, one thing I’m certain of is that I am growing through these experiences, and I believe that the time ahead will continue to be also beneficial for both me and my organization.

I am deeply grateful to my company, which has provided me with the opportunity to contribute to my own growth as well as the growth of the organization through this excellent program. I also always appreciate the team members who consider my class schedule, support me, and share my challenges.

The challenge has already begun for me. I am sure that this challenge will bring me great growth beyond change. At the end of this process, I will try to go through the rest of the process well with the hope of becoming a more mature me.


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