My exchange year in Korea at Yonsei University was such an experience for a country boy like me

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Patrick Ellen
Global Channel Development Manager at Unilever
Korean Studies BA graduate
Patrick picked up skills during his degree which he still uses every day in his work at Unilever.

What is your current job and what does it involve?

I work in global marketing and am working in the rollout project of a Korean brand acquired by the company in 2017.

Can you tell me about your journey from graduation to where you are now?

After graduation from Sheffield I returned to Korea on a scholarship with the Korean Language Translations Institute to study literature translation.

After that I returned to the UK and moved to London to work for KOTRA, the Korean Trade and Investment Promotion Agency for a few years which led me into a commercial career in retail and consumer goods, working for Boots as a buyer and brand manager in a Nottingham before making the jump to a Unilever four years ago.

Do you use the knowledge and skills you gained from your studies in your job?

Every single day now! I have the unlikely combination of experience of working in beauty marketing, retail development and experience of a Korean culture and business practices (plus some rusty Korean language skills), which was essentially the candidate profile for this job! Now I work with Korean colleagues based in Korea and London every single day.

Every time I’ve drifted away from Korea, eventually I come back to it.

How did your time at Sheffield help to prepare you for your chosen career?

It’s rounded experience that Sheffield gave me that set me up for success.

There are still very few other places to do Korean studies in this country, but Sheffield still stands out for its holistic approach and I loved the fact you could have a “normal” university experience whilst studying something extraordinary.

What are your favourite memories of studying at Sheffield?

Far too many to nail it down to a few favourites, but my first year was great, getting to know the city, meet so many new people from across the world. Most of my closest friends today are still those I lived or studied with in first year.

My exchange year in Korea at Yonsei University was such an experience for a country boy like me. I will also be forever fond of the Arts Tower, it’s views and the paternoster lift. And far too many sandwiches from John’s Van by the IC.

Do you have any tips and advice for students wishing to go down a similar career path to you?

It’s scary but start thinking about careers from first year. I was very naive and a little bit clueless about what I wanted to do until some years after graduation. Studying East Asian studies is incredible and makes you very unique, but there’s less linear career paths compared to other subjects so try to get work experience early on to earn what you really want to do.

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