Noonsong read several articles in the ALUMNAE section of The Sookmyung Times and learned that some alumni who had graduated from SMWU are making achievements in a wide variety of fields. She wanted to achieve something great just like them and shine a light on the name of Sookmyung. She became curious about what kind of efforts her seniors would have made to get where they were, but she didn't know where to look for the information.
Exploring the path that seniors walked
SMWU's Career Development Center runs various programs to help students get job information. Some of them help connect students and graduates so that students can get to know their seniors' paths. Typical programs include a regular monthly "Meeting with Seniors" and "SM-Bridge" that is in continuous operation. Meeting with Seniors is a program in which seniors give special lectures online through Zoom, and there is also a Q&A session. Students can freely apply for the special lecture through SNOWAY. This program is divided into two types: "Meeting with SYL Seniors" and the general "Meeting with Seniors." SYL is an alumni network created by young graduates in their third to fifth years of employment. In the former case, seniors who belong to SYL can participate, and seniors who do not belong to SYL participate in the latter. In May, a total of ten "Meeting with SYL Seniors" and two general "Meeting with Seniors" were held. It introduces a variety of fields, including graduates working for subsidiaries of newspapers' YouTube channels, for NGO organizations, and graduates in charge of marketing at food companies. If students learn about their seniors' experiences, they will be able to get a lot of help in exploring various jobs and in deciding their career paths.
SM-Bridge carries out incumbent alumni online mentoring for students, and students can send detailed questions to a mentor through the online form of SNOWAY. Students can choose their desired job from among various fields such as finance, design, marketing, and law. They can also choose areas in which they want to be coached such as resumes, interviews, and internships. As of the first week of May, 151 mentors are on the list, from those who work for certain companies to mentors who work as public officials or run their own one-man business. It will be useful for those who are planning for a specific future because they can get detailed answers to their questions. Son Yoo-bin, a student in the Division of Korean Language and Literature '21, said, "I want to be an entertainment producer, and I need advice from seniors who are active in this field. I wonder how they prepared a portfolio and how they got a job. I hope offline mentoring, including group meetings, will increase as well as simple lectures." However, since mentoring and special lecture programs conducted by graduates are currently held online, some students may feel limited in obtaining more practical information. She hopes the program will allow her to meet with seniors in person. In addition to "Meeting with Seniors" and "SM-Bridge," there are special lectures where graduates are invited back by their department. These are often conducted face-to-face, but there is a limitation in that they are held irregularly and at the discretion of each major.
Noonsong's thoughts ahead of career decisions
SMT conducted a survey to gather students' opinions on the alumni connection program. The survey covered two parts: Meeting with Seniors and SM-Bridge. 40 of the 85 respondents (47.1%) said that they had participated in the Meeting with Seniors organized by the Career Development center, and 45 of the 85 respondents (52.9%) said they had never participated.1) Of the 40 students who have participated, 20 (50%) said they were "very satisfied," and 20 (50%) said they were "generally satisfied." This showed that all the students who participated in the program were satisfied with it overall. Next, SMT asked students who were satisfied with the program why they were, and duplicate responses were allowed. 30 out of 40 (75%) responded, "It gives students detailed information about the job they are interested in." It was followed by 21 out of 40 (52.5%) who said, "It gives students practical information such as tips on writing a resume and preparing for an interview." 19 out of 40 (47.5%) said, "Opportunity to explore various career paths," and "Solving the students' serious concerns through question-and-answer sessions" as the last reasons. As a result, this suggests that the program has helped students explore their careers in various ways. When asked if they were willing to participate in the Meeting with Seniors in the future, 57 out of 69 (82.6%) said they were, 11 (15.9%) said they were not sure, and 1 (1.4%) said they were not. The students generally have a positive perception of this program, but more effort to encourage participation is needed.
SMT then asked about students' perceptions and satisfaction with SM-Bridge. When asked if they knew about the program, 50 out of 85 respondents (58.8%) said "I knew," and 35 out of 85 respondents (41.2%) said "I didn't know." Of the 50 respondents who know about the program, 8 (16%) said "I have participated," but 42 (84%) said "I have never participated." This suggests that participation is not high compared to awareness of SM-Bridge. SMT asked respondents who had participated in SM-Bridge about their satisfaction and the reasons, and duplicate responses were allowed as to why. 5 out of 8 (62.5%) said they were "generally satisfied," 1 out of 8 (12.5%) said they were "very satisfied" and 2 out of 8 (25.0%) said they were "generally dissatisfied." 4 out of 6 (66.7%) who responded that they were satisfied stated, "It allowed me to get realistic advice about my interests from mentors." Also, "It allowed me to get practical job information such as interview preparation tips" and "It helped solve my career concerns" were from 3 respondents each (50%), and "I could know the working environment or pros and cons of the job I was interested in" received 2 votes (33.3%). On the other hand, those who responded that they were dissatisfied cited, "It was difficult to find the right mentor for me because the mentors' areas are not diverse," "The advice of the mentor was not very helpful," and "The response to my question was not specific". SMT lastly asked respondents if they were willing to participate in SM-Bridge in the future. 66 out of 79 (83.5%) said they were willing to participate, 11 (12.9%) said they did not know, and 2 (2.5%) said they were not. As a result, although the participation of SM-Bridge is low, but the majority of respondents appear willing to participate in the future.
The present and future of this program
This SMT reporter visited the Career Design Center in charge of these programs to deliver students' opinions and check whether their suggestions would be considered. Also, SMT tried to solve students' curiosity by asking some questions about the program based on what students left in the free response section. First of all, there were some questions about how the graduates who participate in special lectures and mentoring had been discovered. Section Manager Ahn Sang-hee, who runs and manages Meeting with Seniors, said, "Graduates working as mentors for SM-Bridge often participate in Meeting with Seniors. To find the graduates for SM-Bridge, we contact those who have succeeded in getting a job first, and we also contact them through a professor. The mentor activities and special lectures are carried out through the voluntary participation of graduates." She signified her opinion that they are discovering mentors based on the employment data and the status of graduates. Subsequently, it was asked how the Meeting with Seniors is organized and what the graduates have been lecturing on. She replied, "We ask those who give special lectures to conduct lectures in two parts: explanation of the current job and paths for employment and experiences. They usually spend about 50 minutes on special lectures, and for about 30 minutes, they answer the questions that the students left in advance." It seems that they are trying to respond to the curiosity and concerns of their juniors. According to the survey, there was a hope for special lectures in uncommon areas that could not be easily experienced. In response to this, she said, "We try to recruit graduates who work in areas that many students prefer. For example, we focus on jobs with high potential for development and a promising future, such as platforms, management and IT. In addition, we are helping students broaden their sights and understand the occupational cluster itself deeply." She indirectly expressed her position that it is difficult to accept all the detailed needs of each student because it is a program for a large number of students. However, it seems that they are recruiting mentors in consideration of the future prospects of jobs and the students' needs properly.
Meanwhile, there were many students who hoped to participate in face-to-face mentoring. In response, Section Manager Ahn said, "It hasn't been implemented in the past few years due to COVID-19. It would be good if there were more face-to-face programs, but mentors don't have enough time because of their work. Nevertheless, we are currently devising a face-to-face program, and there is a possibility of piloting it in the next semester." Talking about why the face-to-face program has not been actively carried out in the past, she expressed her willingness to overcome this regret and pursue such programs in the future. If a face-to-face program is offered where mentors and mentees can actually meet, students will be able to get more practical and realistic help. Also, the survey showed that a considerable number of students were not familiar with SM-Bridge. SMT asked what efforts the school is currently making to promote SM-Bridge and if there are plans for more active promotion. Section Manager Lee Eun-sil, who runs and manages SM-Bridge, said, "A video of interviewing mentors participating in SM-Bridge was released to freshmen. A brochure from the Office of Admissions Management contains information about our program and we provide online brochures to students. We will try to make the program more familiar to students." They are working hard at promotion, but more active, alternative efforts may be needed. She added, "We introduce the program to graduates whenever we have the opportunity to meet them. There are many mentors who think carefully about students' concerns as if they were their own concerns and actively engage in mentoring to help students as much as possible." It turns out that the school is doing some promotion not only to students but also to graduates to recruit many good mentors. The school is working hard even in areas that we are not well recognized. However, as it is a program for students, it is necessary to pay more attention to the students' voices and demands.
Sookmyungians are connected
SMWU operates graduates' special lectures and a mentoring program to help the students explore and choose their careers. Students can reduce their concerns through their seniors' advice with these programs. Also, if students participate in it, they will be able to receive warm attention and advice from their seniors. There is also a hope that the job areas introduced will be expanded and that face-to-face programs will be offered. The school will try to revitalize the network among Sookmyungians by providing more useful information.
1) The total number of students enrolled is 12,249, with a survey participation rate of about 0.7%.