From Borneo to Business
Christopher Kang '14 came to Pace from Borneo Island looking for a life changing experience. He found it.
Kyeong Hun (Christopher) Kang ’14 remembers when he decided to make his experience at Pace exceptional. It was sophomore year when Chairman of the Pace Board of Trustees Mark M. Besca ’81 told him, “Your professional experience as a student should set the tone and standard of what you want to achieve in your career.”
That’s when he shaped his career goals and set out to make the most out of his time at the University. Originally from a small town on Borneo Island, Kang had his sights set on business and was now living in the financial center of the world. “I knew that I wanted an experience that was not only extraordinary, but life changing,” says the public accounting and business economics double major.
Kang mixed his dedication to business with culture and joined various business-related student organizations like Ascend, the business professionals’ society for Pan-Asian leaders, and ALPFA, the business professionals’ society for Latinos. Proactive in the organizations, he quickly gained responsibilities and leadership, serving as treasurer of Ascend and as treasurer, adviser, and president of ALPFA.
It wasn’t long after that when Kang received the life changing opportunity he’d been working toward. In the summer of 2013, he was offered a position at Ernst & Young (EY) as a Financial Services Office tax intern. Kang was now interning at the same company as the man who inspired him sophomore year. Besca is a managing partner at EY in the New York office.
He spent the summer gaining valuable taxation skills and more. Kang also connected the dots between skills he learned through his involvement in student organizations and the skills he practiced at EY. “Being at the internship reminded me a lot of my experiences as President of ALPFA and Ascend. It reminded me of all the times I had worked on various events like the Practice Interview Day and the Dining Etiquette events,” he says.
However, skills were just one of the take-aways from Kang’s time at EY. “I realized the abilities that I learned only make up a small portion of my experience; I felt that the people played a bigger role,” he says. Inspired by his coworkers, superiors, and other interns, Kang pushed himself to sharpen his focus and “absorb knowledge like a sponge.”
And it paid off. Kang’s mentor Lubin Accounting Professor Ping Wang, PhD, says that it can sometimes take decades for people—especially in the accounting industry—to realize what they want to specialize in. “With his motivation and dedication, he was able to design a career so early on,” says Wang. His internship at EY contributed to winning a Career Services Award for personal achievements and growth, contribution to the organization, and leadership.
Kang is now helping other Pace students focus on their futures at the Center for Academic Excellence and Tutorial Services, where he works as an accounting and management tutor and academic coach. He helps students on academic probation develop long-term knowledge abilities and provides support and advice for students with personal obstacles affecting their education. Coming full-circle, Kang now encourages students to rise to the opportunities at Pace, just as Besca once encouraged him years ago.
“I always look back at my experiences and have wondered how a small-town student from Borneo Island could ever come so far,” he says. “After a while of thinking, I realize that it only takes one person—one moment—to change your life forever.”
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