Statistics shared by Business Insider revealed that, “tuition fees at American colleges and universities are among the highest in the world, according to a report released… by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Of the 35 member countries in the OECD average, the US has the highest average tuition at both public and private colleges.“
High tuition fees often require large student loans with steep interest rates. It is likely that this is what pushes many North American students to work immediately after attending college or university.
In 2017, YouGov surveyed and found that 81% of students feel pressured to get a job within the first 6 months after graduating. 23% of them claiming to be pushed into work to cover student loan payments. However, what if there was a way to find the time to explore freedom, travel, get work experience, AND pay off your student loans? Most would say that it is impossible and overambitious. Regardless of how unlikely it seemed, John Lim found a way to make it happen.
I think many students struggle with finding what they are passionate about to begin with. Adding debt into the equation adds another layer of complexity to the situation. A common post-grad choice then becomes choosing a job that you know you’ll be unhappy at for the sake of paying off college debt or, on the other hand, accepting a job you’ll be happy at, but worrying about debt for the next couple decades. – John Lim
Lim completed a degree in Economics and Environmental Studies from Swarthmore College in 2016. After which, he began applying for jobs from banks in New York, to paralegal positions at law firms on the East coast. His lack of success with the job search led him to try a less-conventional path. Lim accepted a teaching job in South Korea, thus beginning his professional life abroad.
What was your experience working as a teacher in South Korea like? What were the biggest surprises that came along with it?
I didn’t expect that a major aspect of the job in South Korea would be to motivate my students to learn. This was the most difficult aspect of the job for me. It made me appreciate all the great teachers I had in the past that gifted me with a joy for learning (shout out to McDonogh School). The actual teaching part was sort of a given, but providing that emotional support and motivation was not something I had planned for.
Following his teaching experience, Lim created Ansel.
Ansel is a growth agency for brands, non-profits, or individuals who want to make a positive impact on this world. We focus on the intersection of data and creativity to help craft narratives that galvanize people to act in a way that benefits us all.
Ansel is proud to work with change-makers who are doing their best to impact our world positively. For example, one of our clients United by Blue, removes one pound of plastic from the oceans, for every purchase made. To date, they’ve removed 1.4 million pounds of plastic from our waterways. This is just one example of many companies, brands, and individuals who have entrusted us with guiding their vision – a privilege and responsibility we are honored to undertake.
Work Allowing Travel
The responsibility of owning a company did not put a stop to Lim’s wanderlust and curiosity to see the world. Ansel, being an online based company allowed him to take advantage of his virtual office-space and signed up for Remote Year.
What kind of person/lifestyle do you think is the best fit for a position within Remote Year?
Remote Year is not a job provider. You need to be able to have a job that is remote-capable. I’ve made some of my best friends through Remote Year. These are people who are open in the truest sense of the word. We’ve gone on adventures around the world that I’ll tell stories about for the rest of my life.
By combining Ansel and Remote Year, Lim was able to grow both personally and professionally.
How do you think that your extensive travel experience has affected your capabilities to run a business? How do you think they have helped you evolve personally?
The extensive travel has helped expand my capabilities as a business owner. I’ve found that above all, business is about understanding people – their core motivations, their visions for their lives, what makes them happy. From Europe to Africa to Asia to Latin America, I’ve been able to experience cultures vastly different to the bubbles that exist in the US. But perhaps more interestingly, I have been able to experience the similarities between humans regardless of location. Personally, traveling to so many countries has helped me learn what I need from a permanent home – a place that inspires and welcomes creativity.
Branding and Marketing Tips
Lim shared some perspectives based on his personal experience working to help brands appeal to their desired audiences.
How do you manage to decipher what will appeal to a specific business’s audience?
To grow social media for a client, it requires an attitude that you’ll leave no stone unturned because the information is out there for the taking – you just have to look in the right places. Luckily, Ansel knows where those are.
Are there trends that you have noticed to apply consistently for different brands?
Authenticity. It’s been proven through studies that social media often leaves people feeling empty or neutral. Those who can create with intention and engage with people meaningfully stand out from the rest.
What is the biggest mistake that you find companies are making when they come to you initially?
Branding – people hold on to a traditional idea of their brand without any sort of meaningful market validation. It’s often with a magnitude of granularity that they avoid using a certain word in an email, ad, landing page, etc. My advice is to test, test, test until you can find with meaningful statistical significance what compels to your core audience.
Lim shows us that it is indeed possible to successfully mix work with pleasure.
What is the most teaching experience that you have encountered during your professional life?
When I was 13, we had a school-wide assembly to watch Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” It instilled in me the urgency with which we need to act in order to guarantee the prosperity of our future generations.
Shortly thereafter, my father passed away unexpectedly. The combination of these two events allowed me to truly understand the gravity of mortality. Ever since, I have felt an existential obligation to leave the planet a better place than when I came to it.