Business Risk Services, Ernst & Young, Chicago
“Having the opportunity to speak in front of a crowd every week gave me a lot of confidence, which really helped me succeed in interviews.”
If you think public speaking in your native language is scary, try speaking in a foreign language like Joon-Woo Song.
A native of South Korea, Song picked up some English while living in the United States as a toddler, and some more as a teenager in Indonesia. But for the next 10 years, he spoke only Korean. When he came to IU, “I was speaking English with the vocabulary of a middle schooler or worse,” he says.
“Public speaking was one of my greatest fears,” Song says, but he wanted to conquer it. In C104 Business Presentations, he analyzed his speaking behavior, which involved writing out speeches on note cards and memorizing them. “I came to the conclusion that I was pushing too hard for perfection and missing the true essence of public speaking: effectively getting my point across to the audience.”
So he adjusted. Instead of memorizing speeches, he started using different phrases and expressions each time he practiced. When he spoke to audiences, he made more mistakes and took longer pauses than before, but because he spoke genuinely rather than from memory, audiences paid more attention and he became more comfortable. “I was free from critiquing myself, and I was able to control my anxiety.”
“C104 changed my whole college career,” Song says. His success inspired him to join what he calls “the best club ever,” Kelley’s Toastmasters International speech club. “Having the opportunity to speak in front of a crowd every week gave me a lot of confidence, which really helped me succeed in interviews.”
Song’s speaking skills came in handy during his corporate audit internship with GMAC Financial Services. “I had a chance to do a presentation in front of executive-level managers. It was daunting at first, but I made it through by constantly reminding myself that I’ve had enough practice at school.”
After graduation, Song started his career with Ernst & Young’s Business Risk Services practice in Chicago. He knows his improved communication skills will play a big role in his career. “My job entails endless communication. I’ll be meeting with new clients, participating in phone conferences, and occasionally giving presentations,” says Song, who received a 2008 Senior Scholastic Award for being in the top 1 percent of his Kelley class.
“Business is all about working with people and establishing relationships with those people,” he says. “If you can’t properly communicate with them, you’re going to have a hard time.”
Favorite reference: Dictionary.com. “Every now and then I hear words or names that I need to look up.”
Room to breathe: “I grew up in big cities, and this is my first time ever living in a midsize town. I love the peace and quietness of Bloomington and the clean air. I also enjoy the abundance of musical performances in Bloomington and at IU. I see about three operas per semester, and the yearly Lotus Festival downtown is just awesome.”
His way is the highway: “I love traveling. I’ve been moving around most of my life and I love going to new places.”
On his resume: Vocalist, songwriter, and manager for a Korean band, The Ring; served two years in the Republic of Korea Army as a sergeant in human resources
Bugle boy: Played trumpet in the IU Marching Hundred