There is only one kind of success- to be able to spend your life in your own way, said American journalist Christopher Morley. The quote may draw only jeers in this day and age when a success is often defined as having good fortune and fame only. But Kang Young-hoon, a self-proclaimed “planner of college culture,” took Morley’s lesson to heart and has chosen to find satisfaction on a road less traveled.
Kang is currently the owner of the online college community Carpe Diem, where college students share their dreams and discuss how to achieve their goals. He periodically plans and implements offline activities that students all over the country can participate and share their dreams with each other.
Kang, who graduated from university with a degree in Business, once followed what he described as the “cookie-cutter life” of a typical college graduate, by getting an entry-level job at a franchising company. But in a short time, he realized the career he chose was probably not the path to fulfilling his dream.
“Many people work hard for their companies and their bosses all their lives to make more money and to gain more power,” said Kang. “But when they are out of the job, they have nothing left for themselves: no hobbies, no talents and no dreams.”
Kang, believing that a proper and successful college life could make the difference, first set out to hold small seminars in college campuses around the country, but the young students showed little interest in his speeches. “The students simply thought I was too young to be giving them advice. Who wants to hear advice from a person hardly older than s/he is talking about success?” he said.
But Kang soldiered on. At the age of 29, he tried to change his approach towards his audience, by creating the Internet club, whose name, Carpe Diem, means “seize the day.”
“The club provides a place for college students to interact with each other and share their thoughts. More importantly, it helps students meet people who are actually living their dreams in society,” said Kang. “These full-fledged members of society help students find their way and discover true meaning in their lives.”
The club started off with one supporter on August 7, 2007. Now it has 6,218 members nationwide. About 2,000 of them actively participate in various programs offline, which consist of special lectures, retreats, parties and meetings with successful members of the society.
Kang says another aspect of achieving one’s dream is creating a bond with many people in various fields. This connection is often called In-meck in Korean. In-meck is often perceived as simply taking advantage of personal connections to live an easy life, and thus has had a negative image to people. However, Kang says that there is a difference between relying on In-meck and creating a network. “In-meck is a word you use when you link people together by their background. Unlike In-meck, a network is about creating relationships through direct and continuous contact. One must lower him or herself and show the behavior of a learner in order to create a network with other individuals,” said Kang.
Having a strong network can help people achieve their dreams by providing new opportunities; however, Kang also emphasizes the importance of having a dream in the first place. “Students no longer have dreams purely relating to their interests. They first look at how much money and fame they can gain from a job and then they chase it, thinking it is their dream,” said Kang. “If a student first has a dream he or she wants to achieve in the future, then a network can help to accomplish it.”
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