Alumni Showcase | Jessica Kang
November 27, 2020
Earlier this year we had the opportunity to catch up with TIGS Alumna Jessica Kang (Class of 2018) to hear her journey since graduating from TIGS. Read all about her experiences working for JPMorgan Chase & Co, her insightful advice for TIGS students and her future career aspirations.
What have you been up to since you graduated from TIGS?
After graduating from TIGS in 2018, I started a Bachelor of Commerce (Co-op) at UNSW. My first year of university is full of memories of having fun since I lived on campus, was part of three university societies’ subcommittees, camps, balls, cruises and more. University is a great place to meet so many new people, make new friends and experience the bigger world.
At the start of this year, I was given more responsibilities at university, since I got the Directorship position and became a peer mentor for several societies to support the incoming first years. I was also part of the UNSW O-week Yellow Shirts volunteer, which is a program that is in most UNSW students’ must-try-before-graduation bucket list. It was such a fun experience, representing UNSW during the O-week!
I also had my very first corporate experience through an internship at JPMorgan Chase & Co. from January to July this year. It was a great learning experience, understanding a lot about the corporate environment, soft skills, and technical terms and skills, starting my professional career.
This year I also got to spend more time with my family, as I moved out of college and working from home arrangements due to COVID-19. I always missed spending time with my family in Wollongong last year, since tiredness from social and academic university work made me not visit home too often. However, after such an overcommitment and getting a bit overwhelmed at the start of this year, coming back home was a good resting opportunity for me to focus a bit more on myself, my family and what direction I want to go ahead with life.
What does a typical day look like for you?
All my classes for this trimester are still online, so my schedule is relatively flexible at the moment. I managed to fit all my classes on Tuesdays, so on Tuesdays, I wake up five minutes before class, get a cup of coffee and eat breakfast/lunch while listening in to the lecture/tutorial. I try to go for a walk or get snacks between classes but most of the times, just end up taking a nap. For other days, apart from doing assignments and homework, I usually hang out with friends during weekdays and attend university outings during weekends. Another routine that became part of my life this year are the virtual calls and events, which I guess is good and bad. I got to attend online events from my overseas social groups, which I couldn’t have imagined doing last year, but at the same time, 3-4 virtual university society meetings per week feels way more than the usual 1 in-person meeting.
What is your fondest memory from your time at TIGS?
While Year 12 can be a very stressful year to students, it is a year that you can make the most memories at school. Being in the common room making toasties and hot chocolate, studying under nice air conditioning, quickly doing the homework you forgot about during the study period right before class and just being able to see everyone together was definitely the highlights of my time at TIGS. I never thought I’d miss my 7:30am extension classes but sometimes, I do miss that early morning atmosphere and the smell of everyone’s coffee. It is still a mystery how I woke up at 6:30am every morning for extension 1 and 2 classes, especially because as a college student, I can’t even wake up at 9:50am for 10am classes.
What advice would you give to a current TIGS student?
Try as many things as you want and take the opportunities that TIGS offer you.
Meeting hundreds of people from different schools and states around Australia at UNSW, I recognised that TIGS provides and equip their students with a lot of opportunities that most students from other schools have to discover themselves. For example, even with UNSW Co-op Scholarships, which got me where I am today, my friends told me that students at top Sydney schools did not know that it is something you have to apply in high school, unless they find out about the program at UNSW Open Day or scholarship website. I’ve heard many students regret not knowing earlier, as the scholarship positions only become vacant once existing scholar drops out, if you try and join during university. However, TIGS invited speakers from UNSW during Year 12 and staff members were very supportive throughout the application process.
I heard many other students in my cohort, who were applying for foreign universities, scholarships or other programs received similar support during high school, as well as preparing for tertiary education. Therefore, I would like to advise the current students, grab the opportunity and discuss with your dean, careers manager or any staff members, and I am sure they will be more than willing to help.
What do you consider to be the three best skills a graduate needs?
For a newly joining graduate at a workforce, I believe communication, ability to adapt to changes flexibly, and basic technical skills such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook are the most important skills needed.
For interns and newly joining graduates, your team would not be expecting you to develop strategies or plans that adds significant value to your organisation. Rather, they expect you to bring fresh perspectives as a member of the young generation to business processes that are already functioning. Hence, being able to communicate effectively with people around the business is very important. Also, there are so many learning opportunities and unexpected situations that you have to adapt once you start working, highlighting flexibility as another important skill. Lastly, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook are some things that you would use daily. Therefore, preparing yourself to use them well before starting your role would be helpful to learn other more valuable things around the business and to express your ideas effectively when you have the opportunity to.
What is your favourite career/study highlight?
Rather than a specific memory or a group of people, I would like to choose February 2020 as my career/study highlight so far. During February this year, I unintentionally overcommitted myself with university study, full-time work, university society directorships, UNSW orientation week volunteering, and mentoring for three university societies. I was stressed at start, and felt tired from handling too many responsibilities. However, that month made me realise having things to do, completing it successfully and being appreciated by people makes me excited and energy-boosted. February 2020 highlighted directions for my life and which lifestyle makes me lively, being by far my favourite and meaningful time!
Where do you see yourself in five years (work, living etc.)
I see myself working in a foreign country, at a company that I admired to work at since I was young. I always admired my mum, who worked in an investment bank, in a nice office for more than 20 years, which inspired me to work in corporate. However, I also realised it will be hard to stay on a job if it is not something I thoroughly enjoy and am passionate about. Therefore, I am planning to try internships in several areas that I’m interested in during university, and hopefully in five years, I would have started my career in an area that I enjoy and feel accomplished from the work I’m doing. My aim for my 20s is to try anything I want, learn and focus more on myself, work hard to prepare for my 30s, but also travel and enjoy life with my overflowing energy!