Ivan Korkes is a recent graduate of Illinois State University. He’s a go-getter with a vision to change the world for the better. He loves to help people and that’s what has been driving him his whole life. Ivan came from overseas in 2008 not knowing any English. In no time, he was fluent in English and ready to make a difference. Ivan’s story is incredibly inspiring!
Ben: Before we break into questions, can you give readers a brief introduction of yourself?
Ivan: My name is Ivan Korkes, I am a recent graduate from Illinois State University with a degree in International Business and Human Resource Management. I am currently a recruiter on the technology services team at LaSalle Network. I was born overseas and came to the U.S in 2008 at the age of 12.
Ben: When and how did you discover your passion for helping people?
Ivan: I feel like this is something that I always did, even as a kid. When I played soccer, I enjoyed assisting more than scoring. I guess I became aware of it when I first came to the U.S, I was 12 years old, I grew up out of a war and arrived as a refugee. I had a lot of mentors and teachers that set me up to become the person I am today, and when I saw that others were doing it just so I can reach my potential, I promised myself that I would do the same for others. Especially children that have experienced things beyond control, kid that aren’t fortunate enough to get an education or have an opportunity to become who they are meant to be. I believe everyone was born with a purpose, and my job is to help someone realize it and figure out what it takes to get there.
Ben: Your work with The Philos Project was amazing to hear about. Can you elaborate on what the project is and what you did for it?
Ivan: The Philos Project is a non for profit organization that focuses on empowering minority communities in the Middle East and building positive relationships. I was a PR/Communications intern, focusing on branding and web content. Being from the Middle East, they valued my input as someone that knew what would connect to the people and I also helped with implement new projects and initiatives. One of Philos’ initiatives is the Philos Leadership Institute (PLI) which is a month long trip for 20 young leaders from the U.S to go to the region and conduct research and attend seminars and events with politicians and leaders.
Ben: What was your favorite part about working with The Philos Project?
Ivan: Just being a part of a mission like that. You get to see how many lives you touch and it’s something that stays with you forever. It definitely changes your perspective on things.
Ben: You spent some time in New York while working on the project. What was one of the best experiences you had while staying there?
Ivan: The lifestyle and just living in New York. I think it’s something that every young professional wants to experience. I really enjoyed walking through Manhattan and seeing the tall buildings, it makes you feel unstoppable.
Ben: If you had the chance to make one of your dreams come true, what would it be?
Ivan: Definitely establish a nonprofit that helps kids who are less fortunate. I envision a big organization that puts on charity soccer games throughout the world, inviting world-class soccer players, just to raise money and open schools and hospitals for refugee kids or kids in underdeveloped communities.
Ben: Who have been the biggest influences in your journey chasing your passion?
Ivan: My dad, without a doubt, He was the most selfless person I had ever known. He passed away after battling with cancer for about a year, but his legacy lives on till this day. Everything that I do is in his name and to keep his vision alive.
Ben: You’ve already accomplished some amazing things in your time but it’s human to always want more. With that being said, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Ivan: I am currently in a great position for where I want to be in 5 years. I love my job, I am changing lives every day and helping people get the jobs of their dreams. In 5 years, I would love to be higher up within my company in a leadership role, but also have something on the side for my nonprofit. I want to have something started, even if it’s on a small scale, something as small as a fundraiser for kids in Chicago.
Ben: It’s so important to give back to others, especially the people chasing their dreams. What advice would you give to someone following their passion?
Ivan: Find your passion, what do you really care about? What videos on Facebook and Twitter usually have you thinking for the rest of the day? For me, it’s the refugee kids living in the middle of a war that they do not understand, kids who are stuck in the middle of a greedy political warfare. Then it’s animals. Everyone has a passion for something, research it and find out ways to get involved. Sometimes even going on social media and sharing things on your timeline is one of the best ways to help.
Ivan has been a mentor of mine for almost two years now. I've learned so much from him and I hope you had some takeaways from his story. He's inspired me more than I could have ever imagined, I hope he inspired you too!