HS Career Focus Week Examines “Grit”

By Bethany Dawson Apr 25, 2018
Career Assembly

The term “Guardian Grit” has been ringing throughout the YISS HS hallways. This year’s Career Focus Week theme “Guardian Grit: Passion and Perseverance” was the guide through a week of various activities for high school students to explore the possibilities for their future careers, including a high school-wide assembly and trips to 17 different companies and organizations for 11th and 12th grade students.

In the week leading up to Career Focus Week, students were first introduced to the idea of “grit” through YISS’ first “Guardian Grit Awards.” High school students were nominated by their teachers, and ten exceptional recipients were chosen. These Guardian Grit Award recipients were selected for their exemplary perseverance, resilience, self-advocacy, positive attitude, and desire to learn. Each of these students was recognized at the Career Focus Week Kick-off Assembly.

Jim Paek

During the assembly, high school teacher Mr. Andy Stager interviewed Mr. Jim Paek, former NHL Hockey player and Stanley Cup winner. Mr. Paek is the director of the Korea Ice Hockey Association and is also the head coach of the South Korea Men’s National Hockey Team, which competed during the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. During the interview, Mr. Paek shared his philosophy of how grit has made him the accomplished player and coach he is today. The students really latched on to Mr. Paek’s “3 P” philosophy – “passion, practice, and perseverance.” Eleventh grade student Allison R. explained, “ I think his 3 P's were really impactful because they gave me specific words to focus on.” Many YISS students were struck by Mr. Paek’s stories of training during his high school summer vacations. A senior expressed how “[Mr. Paek’s] stories about going out [of] his comfort zone to practice and train during summer vacation (e.g., pushing/pulling cars) helped me visualize what exactly having ‘grit’ means.”

Besides his stories about grit, Mr. Paek also enlightened the high school students with what it takes to have a successful career. Yehjee K. (11) explained, “The fact that he stuck with something that he loved to do and made it into a career was something that made a big impression on me. There are a lot of times when kids shoot for the safer career path by doing what their parents want or what makes a decent amount of money instead of continuing something they love.” Yunee P. (12) continued, “Mr. Paek mentioned that in order to become successful, you should believe in what you do and make others believe in you as well. This had the biggest impression on me because I realized the value in believing in [one]self in order to gain perseverance and motivation.” The YISS high school is grateful to Mr. Paek for his openness in sharing his life and allowing students to learn from his experience. Click here to view the full interview.

(ABL Bio)

For the rest of the week, 11th and 12th grade students traveled across Seoul to 17 different companies and organizations. Whether they were watching a battery being made at Solvay, experiencing virtual reality at HP, or taking portraits with MJ Kim, the students experienced first-hand what these jobs truly entailed. One junior who visited Adaptable Human Solutions, a counseling center, shared, “I learned more about this profession, and now I know for sure that I want to go into this career path.”


All of the students returned to school energized and excited about their futures. Some developed a budding interest in a field or company they had not explored, while others deepened the desire to pursue their true passions.

MJ Kim
(MJ Kim Pictures)

YISS is grateful to all of the generous hosts who gave their time to guide the next generation and start them on their career paths. Special thanks go to the HS Career Focus Committee Co-Chairs, Betty Chung and Ingrid Elizondo, for their time and efforts to plan such a valuable career event for YISS students.

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