Shane Kwak, DMSB’19, is taking over our Instagram account on Monday, April 22! Kwak was asked to reflect on his time at D’Amore-McKim including global experiences, club involvement, and what led him to choose his future career in accounting.
Q: What is your major and what year are you graduating?
I am a BSBA major with concentrations in accounting and management information systems and I am graduating this May! I chose this combination because I think it’s really important to be knowledgeable about information systems and technology in order to better understand companies. My long-term goal is to become a certified public accountant.
I also worked with the U.S. Army as an information system clerk for two years as part of the required military service in South Korea. I left school during my sophomore year of college to serve. In this role, I worked in the human resources department to create and file paperwork for U.S. army members, as well as helping the servicemen acclimate to a new country. The knowledge and skills I developed through this position helped me gain a foundational understanding of information systems which I was able to continue learning about at D’Amore-McKim.
Q: What are you involved with on campus?
I am involved with many different initiatives on campus. I am the President of the Korean International Student Association. This past January, I was invited to the Korean Consulate in Boston along with representatives from other universities to network and share ideas about the surrounding Korean community. We came together to bridge the gap between Korean communities and increase cultural awareness.
I hosted a successful job fair on campus with the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOREA) for 70 students in Boston. I arranged an information session for the summer Dialogue of Civilizations program in South Korea as a teaching assistant. I also helped Professor Marc Meyer set up his Korean yoga classes.
I am the Executive Vice President of Beta Alpha Psi, an honor society for accounting, finance, and management and information systems students. I organize weekly meetings, invite employers to campus for information sessions, and identify other networking opportunities for members.
As a career fellow and mentor at Employment Engagement and Career Design at Northeastern, I mentor and advise approximately eight students per week on resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. I give career advice to undergraduate and graduate students during my office hours. Additionally, I serve as a Northeastern ambassador and promote the career support programs we have to students.
I am also involved on campus as a member of the Senior Legacy Committee, an accounting teaching assistant, and a team leader of the Husky Volunteer Team. I truly love Northeastern and I am happy I gained so many experiences in different clubs and organizations before I graduated.
Q: Did you go abroad while studying at Northeastern? Where did you go and what was it like?
I went on the Dialogue of Civilizations program in Barcelona, Spain, last year. During this trip, I took an Accounting Information Systems and a Financial Analysis Reporting 2 course with Professor Peggy O’Kelly and Professor Robert O’Haver. They provided us with many valuable lessons that cannot be learned in the classroom.
Our mornings were structured so that we took two, four-hour classes, then went on tours around the city or had group activities during the afternoon. This program enabled me to explore the city and experience a different culture. We visited many historical places in Barcelona and had a chance to visit Tarragona for a one-day trip which was a highlight for me.
We also visited EY headquarters in Madrid to see how machine learning and big data are used in the accounting industry. We had the opportunity to meet with senior leadership at EY and hear about their experiences. Coupled with our classroom learning, this trip enabled me to see all sides of the accounting and management information systems industry.
This company visit, along with career advice from Professor O’Haver solidified my decision to choose my double concentration.
Barcelona is an amazing city to travel, explore, and learn about. I will never forget the memories and friendships I made. I wish I could study abroad again! I definitely recommend participation in at least one study abroad or Dialogue of Civilizations program.
Q: What are some moments that have defined your D’Amore-McKim experience?
Participating in the Research and Innovation Scholarship Expo (RISE) is one of the most valuable moments that defined my D’Amore-McKim experience.
My RISE project involved consulting with clinics in Long Island, NY and implementing new technology to speed up work processes and digitize medical filings. I was interested in the efficiency of electronic medical records over paper systems and studied this change in two small clinics. I did this research for two months with Professor Yang Lee. We discovered resistance to implementing new systems in these workplaces; the change was possible, but it led to dissatisfied employees and eventual turnover. It was challenging to do research while taking classes, but I was able to gain many skills, such as critical thinking and public speaking.
Q: Where did you go for spring break and why did you decide to go on this trip?
I spent a week in the Dominican Republic during spring break with the Northeastern Alternative Spring Break Team.120 students spent their spring break serving communities all over the world, and our team went to the Dominican Republic to support NGOs trying to make a difference in the water crisis. We worked with Wine to Water, an NGO that provides access to clean water all over the world. I decided to go to the Dominican Republic because I want to contribute myself to both Northeastern and communities in need before I graduated. I have been interested in the importance of access to clean water since the water crisis in Flint, Michigan came to light.
I stayed in the Dominican Republic for a week. For two days, I worked in a factory to create ceramic filters. I was involved in all processes such as sifting clays, and molding filters. On the third day, I went to the local community to teach the children about the importance of drinking clean water and hygiene. For the last two days, I visited local schools and houses to follow-up on whether they were able to use the filter properly. One of my teammates who speaks Spanish conducted an interview with them. I had a memorable time in the Dominican Republic learning about their culture and making memories with friends.
Where have you held co-op positions?
I completed a co-op at Fidelity Investments as a Corporate Tax Analyst in the fall of 2018. I really enjoyed working at Fidelity because I was able to learn a lot about tax and accounting. Most of the people working in the office are CPAs and have worked in the big 4 accounting firms. I was able to ask my peers questions and they gave me a lot of career advice. They did not treat me as an intern, instead, I felt like a colleague.
Q: How has D’Amore-McKim prepared you for the future of work?
D’Amore-McKim inspired my interest in entrepreneurship and innovation. Even though I am an accounting major, I had plenty of chances to be involved in entrepreneurship events and learn more about venture capitals. Additionally, IDEA, our student-led venture accelerator and, Mosaic are great ways to network with many entrepreneurs and work with venture capital firms. I’m a member of Compass an organization that collaborates with Northeastern University’s IDEA ventures lab to assist real start-up companies with the vast tax and accounting needs that arise when developing a new business.
The support of many kind, knowledgeable professors at Northeastern was key to preparing me for the future. This rings especially true for Professor Larry Ginsberg who helped me find my career path. He is the advisor of Beta Alpha Psi and co-advisor of Compass. While working with him in these clubs and taking his class he was always supportive of my personal and professional initiatives. He has always been ready to give advice to his students. His support helped me to become a Huntington 100 inductee.
Q: As a graduating senior, what advice would you give younger Huskies?
Northeastern and D’Amore-McKim offer so many opportunities. Don’t waste your time here and try as hard as you can to participate in many events. Just get involved!
Q: What are you doing after graduation?
After I graduate, I will pursue my master’s degree in accounting at the University of Michigan. After graduation, I am also traveling to South Korea as a teaching assistant to support the Dialogue of Civilizations program.