“When I stepped into the real world, I could feel the brand power of UST-KIST”
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- Registration Date : 2018-05-31
A Conversation with Alumni
“When I stepped into the real world,
I could feel the brand power of UST-KIST”
Jeongmi Kang (KIST Campus graduate), Head of Biomedical C&D team, SK Bioland
These are the first words of Jeongmi Kang, who is working for SK Bioland as head of the Biomedical C&D team. Recognized for her expertise in the field, Jeongmi is in charge of coordinating and planning new regenerative medicine business. It was on the UST-KIST Campus that she was able to build this expertise. Of course, if she did not take on the wider world, she would not be in this position. What was UST for Jeongmi? And what efforts did she make for her goals?
“Not everybody can have the experience of doing a national research project."”
Jeongmi has liked mathematics and science since childhood. It was natural that she decided her career path would be in science and engineering. This is not much different from other students whose strong interest and talent in mathematics and science led them to major in science and engineering. The turning point in her academic and research life was discovering UST. Jeongmi said that after she entered the UST-KIST Campus she dreamed of taking on the larger world as she met an academic advisor who was like a compass of her study and research.
"From my undergraduate days, I vaguely dreamed about and admired biotechnology research,” she said. UST and my advisor (Sangheon Kim, a PhD. in KIST) is the place and the person that helped me realize my dream as a lifetime vocation. When I think about the degree program my head becomes full of memories during the days on the UST-KIST Campus. I can remember vividly the times of discussions in the laboratory where there was no heating during the cold winter nights and the image of the professors in lab coats teaching us how to do experiments. As a UST alumna and young researcher, I always keep in mind that I will devote myself to be a researcher with the right philosophy and excellent ability so not to cause them any inconvenence."
Jeongmi said that when she stepped into the real world after finishing her degree program, she saw and felt firsthand the strong brand power of UST and KIST. “Wherever I went for a job interview, I could definitely feel people were very much impressed by my educational background: studying and performing research projects on my own on UST-KIST Campus,” she said. “I did not know back then. Participating in large-scale national research projects at government-funded research institutes was an opportunity that not everybody can easily obtain.
I think this is the biggest strength of UST. I did not know this while I was a student, but having had interviews, I realized that my research experience in government-funded research institutes was very important. Moreover, the recent job market wants practical talent that can be put into the field immediately. I think, therefore, that a more favorable environment for UST graduates will be created in the future."
"With the pride as a UST alumna, seeing like a tiger and walking like an ox."
“There is also something I desire from UST,” she said. “I hope UST will continue to maintain and expand the existing overseas training support program.” This is because Jeongmi was a beneficiary of the overseas training support program of UST and it was also a valuable opportunity to broaden her horizons.
With UST’s support, she worked as a visiting researcher at UC San Diego, USA, from December 2014 to June 2016. It was an invaluable experience to work with local researchers at the center of global biotechnology research, which turned out 16 Nobel Prizes in science. She thinks that if she had not had a relationship with UST-KIST she would not have had this opportunity.
Jeongmi also advises current students to be vigilant regarding both the vague optimism of “everything is going well,” and the easy pessimism of “I give up.” Employment opportunities continue to decrease and the inflation of education level is rising. Many companies and research institutes prefer so-called "immediately serviceable" talent that can be put into practice right away. She said that if it is difficult to get a full-time job at a large corporation or government-funded research institute immediately after graduating, it is worth considering taking a detour with a long-term perspective.
"If Plan A is practically not possible, you need to consider Plans B and C and take time building up your capacity first before giving another go at Plan 1 again. In any case, from a strategic point of view, it seems to be important to put your final goal at the center of your activities and build up careers and networks. Even if a few failures follow, you need to establish and implement your own strategy with the mindset of "seeing like a tiger and walking like an ox (虎視牛步).”
Jeongmi is currently playing an important role in establishing a baseline business model for the regenerative medicine field, which SK Bioland is newly investing in, and successfully placing finished products in the market by assessing and introducing necessary technologies. Indeed, she is demonstrating the ability that she garnered on the UST-KIST Campus. She said that current students will walk a better path than the one that she is on if they develop their own fields majestically with pride as USTians.
Finally, she said to current students. “I wish you all the best. Go! Go!”