There are many reasons why aspiring university students wish to enroll into Yonsei University; such reasons include the chance to be taught by esteemed faculty members, the prestige of the Yonsei brand, and perhaps most importantly, the networking opportunities. Nevertheless, some find it doubtful that Yonsei University would aid in building connections if they left South Korea given its limited renown abroad. The events of this past summer will challenge that belief.
Thanks to the internship opportunity provided by the UIC exclusive 3 Campus East Asia exchange program, I had interned at a firm in Hong Kong for two months. Within the first week of the internship, an important-looking figure came to the area where the interns were working and asked for me. I stood up and the man immediately wrapped his arm around in a brotherly way and told me in Korean that he is a Yonsei alumnus.
This Yonsei alumnus had been living in Hong Kong for nearly a decade and explained that there is a prominent Yonsei alumni community in Hong Kong. This Yonsei alumni community had several events such as occasional picnics, the Hong Kong YONKO games against Hong Kong’s Korea University Alumni committee, and biannual “happy hour” gatherings in which senior alumni members would rent out a bar and provide drinks and food for younger alumni. These events were great networking opportunities to meet senior accomplished Yonsei alumni members and young alumni alike.
Despite not being a Yonsei alumni nor having immediate plans to stay in Hong Kong, I was invited by my Yonsei senior at the internship to attend one of the biannual “happy Hour” gatherings towards the end of the summer internship. The bar that was rented for the occasion was in the heart of Soho, one of the rich hip areas where affluent youth spent their evenings. Each guest was given two drink coupons and copious amounts of pizza and chicken. Everyone who arrived at the event first visited the table in which the senior alumni members were seated. Such alumni consisted of individuals holding senior management positions in firms such as Mirrae Asset Global Investments, JP Morgan Chase, BNP Paribas, Morgan Stanley, and more.
As the night went on, younger alumni exchanged greetings and discussed how long they were in Hong Kong and for what reason. One alumni member told me how another alumni member bought a product his company was selling which made for good business for a few months. Another alumnus told me that if I was interested in working in Hong Kong, I should contact him before graduation so that he could connect me with the right alumni. This alumnus said, while a bit inebriated, that “the Yonsei alumni community is tight! We help each other out in this place.” The inebriated Yonsei alumni then proceeded to further show the prominence of Yonsei’s foreign network community by loudly singing “I love you, Yonsei” in the streets of Soho for an hour on a Thursday evening.