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Personal Statement for Interaction Science - KGSP / GKS 2020


ranagiani 1 / 2  
Jan 8, 2020   #1

applying to Interaction Science major for GKS



Dear All,

Currently, I am preparing myself for Global Korea Scholarship (GKS) 2020 for graduate study. As a little background, I got my undergraduate degree in urban planning 2 years ago. The, I swifted interest to user experience research, which is why I am planning to apply to Interaction Science major for GKS (University Track). At the moment, I work as a UX Researcher in a startup company.

I am very happy if you can read my essay and give some of your two cents. Any kind of feedback would be much appreciated!


Before you wonder why would an urban planning graduate learn about interaction science, I have one simple question: "How do you explain a ride-sharing app to a 60-year-old grandmother?". If you introduced it as "just hop into a stranger's car and they will take you to your destination", your grandmother might freak out.

Cities should be inclusive. Unlike apps, there is no such thing as a "target market" for cities. The technologies developed in the cities have to be accessible and comprehensible for all. Nowadays, many tech-innovators are finding ways to solve urban problems by creating apps, such as Lime in US or Whim in Finland. They fill in the gaps for urban planners, who seem to be solving problems merely based on the supply-demand analysis. However, innovators may not be reminded enough that their user-centered solution has yet to make collective impacts for the city as an environment. Someone must connect the dots between the individual and collective impacts and I aspire to be that someone. It may sound too ambitious, but I am not disheartened by it.

Ambitious has always been my middle name. I pursued my undergraduate study at XXX, the best tech-institute in the country, and majored in Urban and Regional Planning. During my study, I had the chance to participate in a 6 months exchange program at XXX University Japan, where I attended the College of Policy Science. Despite being away from my home university for half a year, I still managed to graduate on time with the predicate cum laude. I also had the chance to present my research paper in a conference held in Seoul which was organized by Indonesian students in South Korea. That conference remains as one of my best achievements in academic life because I got a taste of the Korean scholars' way of thinking: actionable and impactful. It strengthened my eagerness to pursue further study in South Korea.

Frankly speaking, South Korea is the only country that I have in mind for future studies. I have fallen in love with the country and its culture. I remember back in middle school, I learned hangul by listening to K-pop and watching K-dramas. It sticks to me so well that I am still able to read and write hangul to this very day. Furthermore, I am profoundly convinced to study in Korea because of XXX University. XXX is the only university that provides a comprehensive curriculum to support my research interest in user experience for urban apps. Another thing that fascinates me the most is the way XXX placed Interaction Science major in the Social Science division, unlike any other universities that place the major in the Department of Computer Science. This is highly ideal for me, a non-computer-science graduate who is passionate in user research.

I always know that research, in general, has a special place in my heart. After graduation, I decided to explore research methods in a more practical way. I worked as a researcher at XXX for almost two years. During my tenure, I performed well and gained an award as the "connected" team member, which was given to the person who communicates ideas well to others. Then, I proceed to pursue my interest in the human-computer interaction, which brought me to become a UX Researcher at XXX, a video-on-demand app owned by XXX, the giant company who operates the two biggest Free-to-Air channels in Indonesia. As their UX Researcher, I transform "conversations and gestures" into "design and features". I may have not gotten hands-on experience with an urban innovation app just yet, but I get the chance to explore a ton of user research methods, starting from the basic usability testing, online survey, and user interview, to the advanced home visit, ethnographic study, and mental model.

The goal to become a researcher that connects the dots has driven me to apply for GKS 2020. The field itself is still not well developed in Indonesia so I aspire to meet inspirational colleagues and lecturers in XXX. I also believe that accepting an urban planner graduate with experience in the UX field will open doors for urban studies and bring new colors in the research landscape of XXX's Interaction Science department.

jos3ph 1 / 3 2  
Jan 11, 2020   #2
I advise you not to mention K Pop, it sound like it's the only reason for your interest in studying in Korea.
I think you should find other topics that are related to UX and no K Pop. Also, it would be best if you mentioned the university in the Statement of Purpose.

The overall structure needs more work.
OP ranagiani 1 / 2  
Jan 12, 2020   #3

Hi Joseph, thank you very much for the feedback! Well noted, I will replace the K-Pop part with something more UX-related. I also still have difficulties with the structure, do you have any specific feedback on which paragraph should be moved or such?

Anyway, I also read your thread and I think it is impressive. I will leave some comments as well as an exchange :)

Thank you very much!
jos3ph 1 / 3 2  
Jan 12, 2020   #4
@ranagiani
I think the first paragraph you talk about your undergrad career, what made choose this field and tried to link it with Korea or why your field could be substantial.

The second paragraph, you could mention your work experience.
Third paragraph, you could talk about your experience in a foreign country and what values you gained from this experience, not only professionally but personally, too. You could mention your others interested but avoid K pop and K dramas.

Last paragraph, try to explain why Korea and not other countries. What Korea can offer you in terms of education and your professional life.

It's an idea of essay structure, and example; this would make a more comfortable read. The moment you start writing, you probably would eliminate or ad things.

Thank you for reading my thread, I as well need to do modifications. If you need any other help don't hesitate to ask.
Holt [Contributor] - / 7,892 2170  
Jan 13, 2020   #5
This is an overall essay that has not taken the prompt guide questions into consideration as the draft was being written. This is the kind of scholarship application that will be rejected in the first round of reviews. It does not clearly state how your previous course somehow relates to your new interests and what abilities and skills you have that actually relate, from the first course going into the second course. Sure you graduated with a cum laude. That type of graduate is considered a dime a dozen, it won't impress the reviewer. Remember, only the best of the best students across the world apply for this scholarship and all of them have some sort of stand out participation in their profession to base their application on. This application is not strong in theis sense. You must discuss your previous classes, scores, and accomplishments based on the KGS requirements for the course you have chosen. That is how you can try to highlight your academic abilities. Your research prowess leaves plenty to be desired. It is not impressive at all since you do not seem to have an actual research project of your own to successfully present. Neither does it present an aptitude or desire for higher learning. When you say you do not have any experience in developing an app, you have already lost. Instead, give an overview of a passion research project you hope to pursue and then develop the explanation for that passion project in your goal of study.
OP ranagiani 1 / 2  
Jan 21, 2020   #6
@Holt
Hi Holt, thank you very much for your feedback. Really, it helps a lot. I am now developing a new personal statement after reading more and more example of good essays in this forum and trying to understand the prompt better. I truly appreciate your feedback. Hopefully, I can come up with a more convincing personal statement soon.


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