Class of 2001 – Innis
Innis alumnus, David Kim, is a staple within UofT for his contributions to student life. His career path took him across the globe; but fortunately for us, he returned to the UofT community. Innis students were enthralled by his keynote address during the IN2U Leadership Event in May 2013. David shared his inspirational story and optimistic approach to prepare our student leaders for their future endeavours. He is currently the Dean of Residence at Chestnut Residence.
In a few words, please outline your career path.
I’ve gone from wearing a lab coat, to teaching abroad for a few years, and landing in the field of student life at the University of Toronto.
Do you feel that student life is as important as academics during a student’s undergraduate career? If so, why?
I think part of the question is: What does the student want to achieve during their undergraduate career? Ultimately, I believe that student life is as important as academics because a lot of the relationships, skills, and experiences that they have outside of the classroom will have long-term benefits for one’s career and personal growth.
What is the most important lesson you have learned during your career?
Know your values. Only you know what is important to you and what will be fulfilling in the career path you choose. Once you’ve got that down, you’ll be able to determine if what you’re doing (at the time, because it may change) is the right fit for you.
In your opinion, what makes Innis College stand out within the landscape of UofT?
To be honest, I can’t think of a time when I had to wait in a line or when someone in the office didn’t greet you with a friendly hello. Innis College is a place with great food, beautiful garden spaces, and incredible people who truly care about creating a positive student experience during your time at U of T (and even after!).
What was your career aspiration during your undergrad? How did your path differ?
During my time in undergrad, I worked in a cancer genetics lab and aspired to pursue a career in research. Although I really enjoyed it at the time, my interests began to pull me in other directions. Life came at me in so many directions and made me – wait for the cliché – think about what I wanted to do with my life. I decided to go to teacher’s college and from there, moved to Korea to travel and work with my current partner for a year. Three years later, we returned to Toronto and I knew that working with students is what I wanted to do. Luckily, I landed a job at U of T and it’s been an amazing ride ever since. Although, if I were to be completely truthful, I guess I should mention that I have always wanted to be a performer with Cirque du Soleil or run a café that specializes in brunch, baked goods, and great coffee.
What is your favourite memory from your time spent at Innis College?
I think my favourite memory is pulling together a rag-tag group of volleyball players who weren’t necessarily Innis College students and taking us to the Division I finals. That was a lot of fun and we brought some recognition to the athletics program at Innis College. Otherwise, it would definitely be hanging out with friends in residence despite not having lived in Innis Residence myself. My most recent favourite memory is taking my family to the Innis courtyard where my daughter took her first steps!
Do you have any advice you would like to share with current Innis students?
Your time in university can be such a ride. One thing I appreciate from all the challenges and low points is how they helped me to become familiar with my values and priorities – things that really lay the foundation for all my decision-making today. So, enjoy the successes, but even those low points have a spot in the big picture. Also, it’s one of the few times in your life that you’ll have access to so many opportunities, clubs, services, and others at no cost and/or little effort. Take advantage of that!