A U.S. college degree was a great investment for this Mason Korea student


George Mason University accounting major Young Ho Ji grew up near Pyeongtaek, South Korea, not far from Camp Humphreys, the largest overseas U.S. military installation in the world. He attributes part of his desire for a U.S. college education to watching American officers walk by in the apartment complex every day.

Ji in Horizon Hall pictured in grad gown
Young Ho Ji. Photo provided

Even more, as a fervent researcher and investor of the stock market, Ji admired the investment bankers and traders in Hollywood movies. He also realized how much of the online information about investing, written in English, had a wider scope and depth. He recognized the value of reading and writing in English and dreamed of one day studying abroad.

While the financial hurdle to being able to study in the United States seemed too steep to climb, Ji never lost faith. After finishing his freshman year at a regional university in Korea, he worked at a construction site for seven months, six days a week, sleeping only five hours a day. This allowed him to save enough tuition money for at most five semesters.

“Every day when I wanted to give up, I asked myself if I could be satisfied with where I was as a normal Korean college student,” he said. “The hunger to work and study among the greatest in the [investing] field and industry was what kept me going.”

After spending two years of his military service studying for the English proficiency test, Ji found himself at attending George Mason in his home country. As he was eager to begin to work toward his long-waited goals and found a sense of belonging within the Mason family, Ji took advantage of all the opportunities that Mason Korea had to offer.

“Being a transfer student from a non-Seoul metropolitan area institution, I knew it was a privilege to confidently apply for internships in Seoul,” Ji said. “Internship opportunities from where I come from were nonexistent, even if you had the skills and knowledge to successfully do the job.”

Ji also engaged in every available networking opportunity, starting with connecting with Mason alumni in Korea. To help others enjoy the same sense of community he found, he encouraged other students to attend networking events and founded a student organization called the Mason Korea Investment Club (MKIC).

Not only did his initiative help him land an internship at one of the top accounting firms in Korea, but numerous students from MKIC later secured internships and jobs across different firms in the finance and accounting field as well.

After attending classes at Mason in the United States, Ji is eager to fulfill his childhood dreams as he soon returns to Korea following Spring Commencement in May with investment banking job opportunities lined up. He readily looks forward to mentoring Mason Korea students and plans to share with them the value of a U.S. college education.

“As a prospective investment banker, I can confidently state that the investment I made in my college education was beyond the worth that I expected it to be. It allowed me to see a bigger world, which is full of opportunities that are difficult to put a price tag on.”

Mason Korea opened its doors to in 2014. As part of Mason Korea’s 10th anniversary, Mason will host events in Korea and on the Fairfax Campus. This is the first in a series of stories highlighting Mason Korea students.
Learn more about Mason Korea's anniversary >>