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Check Out Ines Kim’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ines Kim.

Hi Ines, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
To start, I was born in Seoul – South Korea, but I was mostly raised and educated in the large and warm city of Sao Paulo – Brazil. When I was seventeen, my parents decided to immigrate to another large but much colder city of Toronto, Canada where I did more studies and even worked there for some time.

In my early thirties, I decided to go back to Brazil to work. I finally moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in the spring of 2017. I was a newlywed and accompanied my husband’s work relocation opportunity.

It was my first living experience here in the United States. Being an English literature graduate from the University of Sao Paulo and taking into consideration that I previously lived more than 10 years in Canada, language and foreign adaptation were not too difficult for me. Nonetheless, my career adaptation was still a big test for me.

Since my graduation, I had always worked in the retail and wholesale-related industry; specifically, the fashion manufacturing and services industry but I did not wish to subject myself to the same career path.

It was difficult to continue doing something that I knew how to do reasonably well and generate good income but did not love deep inside. After much reflection, I realized that I needed to re-start working with something I loved doing. I remembered how some close friends and relatives in Brazil and Canada had suggested I become a real estate agent because they thought I would be good at it. So, to begin a new life here in St. Louis, I first took a full sabbatical year to study and prepare myself to become a realtor in Missouri.

When I acquired my realtor license in 2018, I remember my excitement of calling all my dear Brazilian and Canadian friends, who had initially suggested I follow this career path. Most of them worked in real estate brokerages, and I also remember their first puzzled reaction was, “This is great! Congratulations, but when we suggested this to you, we meant you become a realtor here in Brazil/Canada, not in St. Louis – the USA!

Blush. Oh well… It is too late to change that now. Besides, I would not change my choice even if I could. It was not an easy change and I admit there is still a lot for me to learn and improve. But then, I hear this very same thing from ten, even twenty years’ experience realtor colleagues. Three years later, even with a few additional grey stress-infused hair strands, I still LOVE my work! For me, figuring out what truly moves me forward, makes me generate happiness in my life. Love, whether is personal or professional, is what fulfils me daily.

My favourite pet: cats (my apologies to dog lovers, nothing against it, I was always surrounded by cats in my childhood). My favourite personal hobby is writing, and I have a goal to finish a compilation of short stories by the end of 2021 and publish it in 2022. Being the extreme introvert that I am, I am openly stating it here, so that it escalates my guilt and responsibility to finish this personal project. Last but not least – Life eventually ends. When it ends, so will you.  Be and do your best while you can.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I firmly believe that both good and bad events in life happen for a valid reason – it is up to us to decide what to do with it. When you open your mind and you are willing to learn with a good dose of perseverance and humility, the road may not always be smooth, but you learn to adapt and flow with it! Work itself was never really a struggle or the most difficult part for me – people (including myself) are what makes my work and life more difficult.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am mystified as I answer these questions because I just realized how all of my past and current career choices involved constantly surrounding myself and dealing with people. Being the extreme introvert and reserved person that I am, I thought I would be naturally gravitating towards a profession where I could be as alone as possible!

Being an international and not being a locally raised professional, I first worried it would be extremely difficult to become a successful professional. During my first working year, I was laser-focused to learn and meet great local people like realtor Diana Fuld, who was and still is today, one rare mentor and friend to me.

What I am most proud of so far is that considering this is my first official career here in the United States, last year, I achieved one of the individual bronze awards at my work – Keller Williams Kirkwood office. As a realtor, I specialize in assisting a diversified group of people to buy and sell residential properties. My specialty may not be knowing each of the 79 neighborhood areas of St. Louis; however, what makes me a very successful professional today, is that I genuinely care to help and guide my clients. After all, anyone who experienced a real estate transaction understands how stressful it can become. I believe empathizing is what sets you apart from any profession.

What do you like and dislike about the city?
I love so many things about this city, but if I only must choose one thing here, it would be Forest Park. What I like the least, especially considering that I am a realtor and frequently drive around, is seeing how some parts of the city still look very neglected. Properties are not the only ones that need continuous care and maintenance. This amazing city also needs more TLC!

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Image Credits

Photographers: Ling Tin, Francisco Lim, Jeferson Kim

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