A Letter to My Students


Dear Students,


Welcome back to Mokwon University. I hope you had a wonderful vacation and I hope you’re rested for the new semester but what I really hope is that you take the opportunity to do something cool in 2016.

It’s true that cool stuff is more fun but that’s not my biggest reason for recommending that you have an adventure or two this year. I recommend you do something cool because the economy is really tough for young people in Korea and, when you graduate, you are going to need all the help you can get.

So, what will you need to get hired? Of course, you will need good grades and strong test scores but, frankly speaking, lots of graduates have good grades and strong test scores. That won’t make you special. If you want to attract an employer you need to make yourself special. Let me explain why.


I have spent several weekends looking over job applications. The single thing I remember most from those job applications was how bored they made me.

“Hi, my name is ~, I made some mistakes in the past, but I promise I’ll do better. I am very hard working and I want an opportunity. My grades are ~ and my test score is ~. Please accept me. Fighting!”

I’ve read this application approximately 500 times. It is boring and it gives me no reason to pick you over the other 499 applicants. When I read it, I really just want to go to sleep.

However, every once in a while, I get an application that breaks the boredom. Maybe an applicant knows how to train monkeys. Maybe they play drums in a rock band. Maybe they traveled to Myanmar and built houses for the poor. When I read things like this, it makes me want to meet the applicant and hear their story.

Likewise, when I have applied for jobs, not a single employer has ever asked me about my grades. None of them have asked to look at my diploma. Every applicant they saw had grades and a diploma. Once they agreed to meet me, they no longer had a reason to care.

Instead of asking to see my academic record, they asked to see a copy of my novel, a video of my race car or a picture of my tadpole tank. This seems strange at first. After all, I’ve never applied to a job writing novels, building cars or raising baby frogs. Why then did my employers care?

I think the answer is that adventurous people who are also good students are a lot harder to find than boring people who are good students. Adventurous people simply more interesting, and organizing job applications is really boring. But I also think there are some practical reasons.

For example, if you have learned how to train monkeys that tells the employer than you are probably independent. It means that you probably aren’t afraid to try new things. It means you are probably pretty good at understanding behavior. Independent people who understand behavior and aren’t afraid to try new things are very, very valuable employees.

If you have written comic books, that tells the employer that you are able to focus on a single goal for a long time, which means you are probably mature. It also shows the employer that you are creative and patient. It proves that you are capable of organizing complicated ideas and explaining yourself to others. It indicates you will be a good employee.

So this semester, I strongly encourage you to get out and do something awesome. Climb a cliff, build a fighting robot or paint a house. It will make your life more fun, it will give you good stories to tell your friends and it very well might get you a job when you graduate.



Ben Garrido



  1. Nicely put. Unemployed, dispirited people are easy to find. Interesting people, much much harder. And a fighting robot? That would get my attention.

    1. Thanks Paula,

      Speaking of interesting, how is your eldercare project going?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: