Sewoo Park came to New York City to pursue his master’s in data science with a business administration degree, a passion for media, and relatives in Long Island (just in case he needed to see familiar faces). Within three years, the Adelphi University alum has elevated his English-speaking skills, found an apartment in the city, and started working in his chosen field, performing business and data analysis for NBC Universal. Now, if he can only find the fictional coffeehouse hangout from his favorite TV show, Friends.
“Living in New York, I know why Joey loves pizza so much and why they’re always talking about traffic,” Sewoo laughed. “Seriously, though, Friends was also a really great show for practicing English. One of my early bucket list items was watching Friends without subtitles.”
It was more than just a love for American TV shows that brought Sewoo to the United States from South Korea, where he earned a bachelor of science in business administration. “I always wanted to get my master’s while studying abroad in the United States,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to have a working experience in US, too, where I can also expand my English-language skills.”
After working for a sports marketing firm after graduation in South Korea, he began to see a career path in data and business analytics. With help from a Shorelight advisor, Sewoo started to research programs and universities in the United States.
“I was drawn to graduate school at Adelphi University,” said Sewoo. “It’s located in Garden City, a great location, which is really safe. I also really liked the campus, but most of all, I liked that Adelphi offers really small classes so that the students can easily communicate and interact with professors and classmates.”
Finding a Place in New York after the Pandemic
Sewoo’s first three months in New York City were everything he imagined they would be — his classes were interesting and held in person. The student success team at Adelphi International planned icebreaker activities and sightseeing trips for international students new to the city. But then the pandemic hit.
“Before, Adelphi International took us to a lot of museums and scheduled a lot of activities in the city,” said Sewoo. “After the pandemic happened, everything shut down, and classes changed from in person to virtual.”
That was during Sewoo’s first semester while he was still taking English language classes through the international program. He used the extra time to set goals for himself — which also helped him stay positive when he was stuck inside.
“There were many times that I felt like I was going to lose my motivation. When something happens to you while you live in a different country, it affects you a lot. So, it was really helpful for me to make plans. My first plan was to get good grades,” said Sewoo. “My second goal was to get a job working with other international students on campus.”
Sewoo found a role working with the student services team at Adelphi International. As the world returned to normal, he found his community and, once more, began to take advantage of all New York City has to offer. “It helped me meet people, and I like to organize events and activities, so I thought it would make sense to work there,” Sewoo said.
Adelphi International Is Committed to Student Success
Sewoo is the first to say that, when he first arrived in New York, his English-speaking skills were not as strong as he hoped. But thanks to the dedicated support he received from the Adelphi International team, he had all the resources he needed to quickly become a proficient speaker — and to even check off his bucket-list item of watching his favorite TV show without subtitles.
“My English professors arranged really good programs to develop our English speaking and writing skills,” said Sewoo. “I met with them after classes, [and] we hung out a lot of times so I could practice casual conversations. I was also assigned a lot of books. I started with kids’ books and eventually moved on to academic or professional books.”
Sewoo also met regularly with his professors and with career preparedness advisors before landing his job at NBC. He workshopped his resume and practiced his interview skills at the Adelphi Career Center. Professors from his data analytics master’s courses helped him convey complex subject matter in ways that made sense to prospective employers.
“I would meet with my professors and ask them to help me talk about and [describe] in a sentence what I was learning in their classes,” said Sewoo. “The most helpful thing was to be able to easily interact with professors, even if I was already finished with their course. I could get their phone number and [they helped me] in preparing for the interview, too.”
For Career Success, Be Persistent
Sewoo didn’t land his dream job at NBC the first time he applied, or the second. He applied for roles at NBC several times before finding the right position. During that time, Sewoo did everything he could to get his foot in the door.
“I really wanted to work at NBC Universal — it’s one of the biggest companies in the world for marketing, entertainment, and production. I looked for jobs on their website literally every day and sent out lots of applications, but I failed many times,” said Sewoo. “I even got to know some of the hiring team there and told them that I was really eager to use my new skills working at NBC Universal. I guess I finally gave them a good impression because they sent my resume around internally, and that’s how I got the job.”
NBC Universal employs Sewoo through the temporary Optional Practical Training (OPT) work permission agreement for international students and recent postgrads. Under OPT, Sewoo qualifies for a 24-month STEM extension as a student graduate from a technology-based degree program. That means Sewoo can stay in New York and work at NBC Universal for two more years compared to international students with non-STEM degrees.
Learn more about OPT and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) on an F-1 Visa in the United States >
“It took hard work, but now I’m working as a partnership analyst, and my team is digital strategy. I work with fast-growing companies — we do in-game advertising solutions,” said Sewoo. “And since I started working, I moved out of my aunt’s house and live in an apartment in Queens.”
Be Bold at Adelphi International
Sewoo came to New York without a firm grasp of the English language. He weathered pandemic protocol lockdowns and the numerous other challenges of international study. When he finally found his dream job, he didn’t let a few rejected applications stop him.
“My advice for international students is if you want to achieve something really desperately, like I did for NBC, then you have to take action. Don’t wait around!” said Sewoo, who became friendly with many NBC Universal recruiters by connecting with them on LinkedIn and via email. “It also takes time. Even before I started working on campus in international student services, I had to learn and practice my English, write my resume, and interview with people in the position already.”
Sewoo credits a lot of his success to setting goals and taking action. It’s essential, according to Sewoo, not to mind too much if — after arriving at your place of international study — you find the customs unfamiliar and your pronunciation imperfect.
“I think the most important thing is to deliver your message. Don’t be afraid to give it a shot — you can learn a lot of things by just talking to people and facing your fears,” said Sewoo. “Look at me, I feel like a New Yorker, I’m actually making some money and surviving in New York, one of the most competitive places in the world.”