South Korea: Final Thoughts from a Steel City Native

Studying abroad in South Korea was filled with beautiful sites and cultural experiences, but promoted my greatest growth as a young professional with hopes to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The accounting industry is increasing in complexity with regulations consistently emerging and high expectations set for employee performance, thus ethical issues may arise in the profession as a result of these conditions. An example of this may be pressure from a client or manager to complete a task in an expedited manner due to the fast-paced nature of the industry, allowing for a potential accounting error to occur. I observed this intense work environment to be common across most Korean industries, and found that asking for support in the workplace from those in higher ranking positions is not typical. As a young professional, I can practice business in an ethical manner by raising concerns to individuals in positions of authority as speaking up shows a display of caution, and can bring greater benefits to the firm. With the increase in globalization, promoting this culture of dialogue can reduce potential ethical issues the accounting industry may face. Furthermore, during the Plus3 Program I completed an engagement with a team of colleagues from unique academic backgrounds, being comprised of students from the College of Business Administration and the Swanson School of Engineering. Tasked with creating a presentation about the development of an innovative product to introduce to a market based on our observations of Korean society, our team was up for the challenge. However, we quickly encountered a communication barrier, stemming from the differences in our educational disciplines. Engineering students on the team were unfamiliar with the Porter’s 5 Forces Analysis, while business students lacked extensive knowledge in software development. Through utilizing our specific strengths, providing explanations of our knowledge, and treating one another with respect, our engagement was successful! This setting was reflective of factors that promote a healthy social environment in professional life. Socializing is an important aspect of successful teaming in the workplace, and is fueled by respect. In a professional setting there is frequently a need for teamwork, which also translates into personal relationship building in the workforce. The presence of respect for workplace engagements and the special talents of others is the key to fostering a positive social environment in professional life. Through these experiences in South Korea, I have recognized that I can continue my education with an approach to enhancing my professional development. While it is easy to seek connections to the exciting “real world” in lectures, I am now cognizant of the important foundation that I am building through my educational resources. Learning in all forms can be connected to life as a professional, which is something I will value as I continue my education. Nonetheless, learning is not just limited in application to life as a professional. While my study abroad experience in South Korea provided the greatest takeaways for my professional life, it sparked a new curiosity that will allow me to be a lifelong learner. As a result of my study abroad experience I am invested in cultural observation and interaction. I will never quit pursuing knowledge and a greater understanding of the world around me!

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