After graduating from the MQM program in 2022, I began working as a business intelligence engineer at Meta. While I enthusiastically enjoyed my time there, the moment for me to leave Meta came. Not because I was moving to another company, but because I had to fulfill my mandatory military service obligation in my home country, South Korea. On December 30, 2023, I got on the plane heading back to Incheon—leaving behind what I had achieved in the U.S. over the last two and a half years.

Even before returning to South Korea, I carefully planned how I could continue my career even while serving in the military. Here are some of my future plans.

1. Work with a startup

Because I have a master’s degree in data analytics, I am able to fulfill my military service period while working at IT startups that are selected as military service exception companies. I’ve been in contact with one of the startups for over a year and will most likely work there in a position, such as analytics manager, data science manager, or even chief information officer. This way, not only I can minimize my career break, but I can grow even more in a position with far more responsibilities and open opportunities.

The welcome kit I received from the startup SMORE

2. Mentor other data analytics students and/or professionals

While working at Meta, several other MQM graduates and I launched the Business Analytics Korean Society, a network of Korean professionals and students aspiring to build a successful career in data. We want to help people who want to pursue a similar path by offering resources like career sessions, one-on-one meetings, and more. We are already operating the network on multiple platforms. Now that I will be in Korea for a couple of years, I plan to hold regular offline meetings to help those who want to pursue academic and career paths similar to mine.

3. Explore other interests

Lastly, I want to explore new opportunities and areas of study, starting with the possibility of obtaining an automobile maintenance license. While in the U.S., I discovered that I really love cars. The more I drive, the more I feel the urge to study, examine, and even design a car engine. After completing my military service, I’m considering applying to mechanical engineering school and specializing in automotive engineering in the future.

I’m not sure if I want to start an entirely new career or if I would instead be happy working in a data analysis position in the automotive industry. My time in South Korea will be a good moment to thoroughly think about my possible choices.