Haein attributes her longstanding interest in international studies to her early exposure to different languages. Originally from Seoul, Haein spent two years in New Zealand learning English before returning to Korea to attend a Chinese/Korean elementary school. Her interest in Chinese Koreans remained with her throughout college and would eventually become the basis for her Huntsman senior thesis.
At the Korean Minjok Leadership Academy Haein was very active in model UN. Her focal point became African-Chinese relationships and how China was fueling economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. On a school sponsored college tour to the US Haein met Korean Minjok alumni from other Ivy League universities. One alumnus was enrolled in a unique dual-degree program at Penn and introduced the Huntsman Program to Haein, who found the idea of pairing international studies with a practical training in business very appealing.
Discovering Her Niche in Business
Although she had never really considered herself a business person, Haein was grateful for her Wharton education because “in the end it turned out to be really useful.” Prior to joining the Program, Haein had focused mainly on institutions like the IMF with broad constituencies, but at Wharton Haein learned how to utilize all sectors (private, public and non-profit) in order to access the emerging fourth sector and reach the best possible solution. “It’s been one of the most useful discoveries I’ve made through the Huntsman Program because I wasn’t really interested in business until I got a broader understanding of economic development. I realized that business has a wide range of applications and you can find creative solutions outside of finance and accounting.”
The urban setting of Penn’s campus also helped to shape Haein’s education. “Unlike other Ivy League universities, Penn offers a campus in an urban setting.” In her senior thesis Haein compared the effects of gentrification on Philadelphia’s Chinatown and the Chinatown in Incheon, Korea. “It was a really fun project because I didn’t really know much about Chinatowns, gentrification, or urban planning before this.” For her research, Haein interviewed a lot of non-profit leaders and politicians, and developed an even greater appreciation for the city. “I didn’t realize that it was possible to engage so locally with international studies through the topic of immigration.”
The Huntsman Experience
Haein chose concentrations in Finance and Operations and Information Management at Wharton and completed a minor in History from the School of Arts & Sciences. She found her Finance 101 class with Professor Jeremy Siegel to be particularly useful because of its practical focus on how the market works. In History 372, “History of Aid,” Haein studied the evolution of aid to developing countries, specifically aid to Africa. “It was a great class to understand how the aid industry really works and what the benefits and byproducts have been.”
On campus Haein worked as the Loan Director of the Student Federal Credit Union’s credit department. She was also introduced to academic research while assisting on a research project with her Operations and Information Management Professor who specializes in behavioral economics and decision making. Through Penn Microfinance, Haein spent a month during her freshman summer in Ghana working with a microfinance organization.
Following graduation, Haein led a team of 4 other students on a consulting project for a non-profit organization in Thailand through Penn International Business Volunteers.
Looking ahead, Haein will start work at Boston Consulting Group in New York as an associate consultant. She feels that learning to balance business and liberal arts in the Huntsman Program will be a major asset as she steps into the real world. Ultimately, Haein sees herself working in the fourth sector to provide creative solutions in economic development, possibly in the field of immigration.