Maiden Experience @ Samsung Electronics HQ

Last Thursday I started my Internship @ Samsung Electronics, Suwon, Korea. The work starts at 8 am and we were asked by the HR to be there at that time for the orientation. As I am the biggest sleeper anyone could ever see in this mortal world, I was really really not happy about the timings. Adding to this herculean task of waking up early, the distance from my home to Samsung (about 1 Hr 15 minutes) added to the “torture”. Essentially.. I had to wake up around 5:30 am, go to the bus stop in SNU by 6:20, meet other interns from SNU, take a bus to the Nakseongdae Subway Station, then a subway to Sadang and from Exit 1 of Sadang Subway Station, take the samsung shuttle bus to Suwon. In the evening, start from samsung around 6 pm after dinner. Reach SNU around 7, go to gym and come to room around 9 and sleep around 10:30. This is my daily schedule these days.

Anyhoo, post forewords, let me get into the my first day @ Samsung. We reached Suwon at about 7 30 am and got down in front of the main gate. From there we walked to Building R-3 where we were supposed to meet Ms. Lee Woo Jin (an SNU Business Administration Graduate herself). We met her and got our ID cards and were allotted into separate divisions. Since my boss was busy in the morning, I was requested to go to the Samsung Library for passing time. Without a word of opposition (Why would i? πŸ™‚ ..) i went to the library and whiled my time reading magazines. I remembered the time i spent in IIIT library, where i would go for supposedly studying, but in the end find me spending time either sleeping or reading misc. magazines. πŸ™‚

After a not-so-great-but-not-so-bad-either indian lunch, I was guided to meet my labmates and my mentor. I met my mentor, greeted him and started talking about my background. I guess my lab contained about 100 – 200 people divided into various teams. After a while, my mentor asked his friend to introduce me to all the team members (about 40). Post, he took me to my table. I was given a seat next to another Indian (from Orissa). Contrary to the “myths”, inspite of me being in the Engineering Division, i was able to find a fair proportion of males and females. All my team mates were friendly and I guess i was the youngest in the whole lab of 100-200 people. Hence I was given the youngest-student treatment. While i was making myself adjusted to the environment, my mentor came with a wet cloth and started cleaning my table. I objected to that and requested him to give it to me and i started cleaning my table myself. You know, i suck at cleaning.. πŸ™‚ Hence my mentor mocked me (with humor) and told “you dont know how to clean a desk.. give it to me.. I will do it.” and he took the wet towel and cleaned my desk.

The next thing i did was to go to my mentor’s table which is in the same room, just a few rows away. I saw that he had a very similar setting to what I or for that matter anyone else has. Similar chair and he was just another engineer among all of us (Atleast i thought so at first.)

Then came the lightning strike. I came to know that he was my boss. WOW! I was so surprised and flattered. Where i had expected a diabolical (metaphorically speaking) character, he was much much nicer. My boss, helped me clean my table. My boss sits among all the others, without a special cabin with all extra facilities (as i had seen in companies in India where we could know whose the boss by the air around him.. Please correct me if this is not the general case back home). I was really surprised at his humility. He was such a nice person and a wonderful individual. Never even once did he have the “i-am-the-boss” air around him and many times i saw him joking around with others. The division which i was working in is one of the most profitable divisions in the whole of Samsung Electronics. and now i know why! πŸ™‚

After giving me some work, he asked me if i had time in the evening to join them for a group dinner (outside Samsung, in a restaurant) and around 5:30 pm, we went to the restaurant which was followed by a social drinking party. In the meanwhile, i was introduced to my boss’s boss as well. I must say.. I was flattered by his simplicity as well. Even him, the boss’s boss sat among all us “lesser-mortals” and did not seem to demand those “extra-luxuries” like an own cabin, flamboyant amenities etc. which he actually, in all rights, could have had under his grasp. He was among us and wanted to be treated like us. This way he gains true respect, even from me who was just one day old in my job. Truly remarkable. I am continuously impressed by one character in people around me here, thats Humility.

People always think, that in such companies, people work from 7 am to midnight. I wont say that it is completely false but from what i see, here the bosses lead from the front and they lead by example and not load by example. This really motivates us to work like him and the harmonious family-like environment is the delicious topping. He comes early and he goes late. Not kidding, I am really happy and lucky to be here!

And yeah .. none of the websites are blocked here. All websites and chat clients are accessible at all times. πŸ™‚ They trust you and expect you to live up to their trust that you wont waste much time surfing. They don’t make you work by imposing restrictions on various aspects of your work-life, rather motivates you by leading you from the front. Am really looking forward to be a regular part of this team from September next year when I would be absorbed into Samsung Electronics Mainstream. I am sure that there are more companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo etc. who treats the employees similarly but i just wish how great it would have been, if ALL the companies followed suit. The productivity would then simply soar into the clouds exceeding predictable limits!

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28 Responses

  1. The korean culture keeps surprising me! Keep writing such posts.

  2. Am glad you agree! Seriously.. I too am.. It had indeed been a really surprising experience for me too so far. So little did i know about this country till I came here.. My main purpose of this blog even is to convey what i see through my eyes to my friends back home..

  3. Hi Kiran.. Best of luck for your internship..

  4. @ Sai ” Thanks a lot buddy .. πŸ™‚ See you soon .. πŸ™‚ Good luck to you as well .. πŸ™‚

  5. hi kiran…nice post man…i totally agree with u..samsung isn’t a bad place to work..i hope you have a good time during ur intern.!!!

  6. @ Nitin : Glad to know that you find it the same way .. I am more than satisfied here.. πŸ™‚ .. I would be in TN as well .. Hope we can meet up often here as well!

  7. Kiran,
    can u share the social life style in korea, and how secure that place is.

  8. iam joining samsung, iam basically a south indian, Pls share some of the bad things also

  9. @sudha: Hello.. Actually i have posted about these issues in my blog already .. do check out my archives..

  10. nice one…can you giv more insight on work culture on day today basis…i m thinkin of joining samsung next month..so it would be great if you can giv general info..or anything which u feel a new joinee should knw abt

  11. As I know from first hand experience about the work culture in Samsung (Korea), here are the salient points –

    1. Koreans don’t like to get personal, so never ever talk to them about their families and stuff.

    2. If a Korean boss invites you for a treat of somekind, consider it as an honour. Koreans are hard bunch of nuts and they seldom invite people for dinner or lunch and if they do that means you are heck of a dude and had done something dude-like for which they are grateful and as a token of appreciation are inviting you for a treat.

    3. If a Korean boss or colleague asks you “How much time are you gonna take to solve this bug or problem?”, think carefully and answer, if you say “Aww.. this thing is a piece of cake and won’t take more than 5 minutes”.. its not as easy as that.. after precisely 5 minutes you’ll see the Korean dude standing on top of you asking for the status.. excuses like “In India 5 minutes means half and hour” or “hell dude, by 5 minutes I meant to ignore you” won’t help. So, take a reasonable stock of the situation.. give yourself ample time to solve the frigging problem unless you like Koreans on your back.

    4. Don’t crib. You don’t like their culture or work.. come back to India and do whatever you like. Once your appraisal goes down, it stays down. So, work like a horse during weekdays because weekends are there to indulge in drinks and fun.

    5. Koreans normally sleep for an hour on their chairs after lunch, so don’t gape them in wonderment if you find Koreans doing that.

    6. Expect very little time given for your meals.. normally its 15-20 minutes. Have your lunch/dinner in that time slot.

    7. Reach before 8 AM in the morning, normally Koreans have relaxed that time to 8:30 AM for the Indians because they know Indians are lazy bums and love their sleep, but if you reach later than 8:30 AM expect a mail coming from your boss of the boos of the boss demanding reasons for turning up late.

    8. Korean TVs have 2 official permanent porn channels aired and thats approved by government because Korean growth rate is negative and government thinks watching porn can stimulate a person to make babies.. hmmm..

    9. Korea has a staggering 52% of divorce rate that means every 1 out of two couple are divorced. So don’t go asking Koreans about their married life because most probably he’ll be divorced. What else can you expect, these Koreans love to work and stay in office for straight 20 hours working.

    actually there’s lot more stuff about them which can be written.. but I am kinda running out of time since I have given my Korean boss a time of “1/2 hour” for the problem I am working on..

  12. @sudha –

    “iam joining samsung, iam basically a south indian, Pls share some of the bad things also”

    The bad things are..

    1. Never talk about their beleaguered neighbor North Korea, they had been through a bitter war in 1950 and since then the DMZ almost differentiates everything about them. NK is a rough and tough country and SK don’t like them and don’t like to talk about them. Period.

    2. Keep Japan also away from the conversations, apparently Japanese had once ruled over Korea and like China, Koreans have developed this colonial hatred towards Japan.

    3. Apart from above two, also try not to talk about politics and governance with Koreans, they like their government and they leave the politics to politicians.

    4. Memorize this. Never ever in the name of god mention two letters – “LG”. Boy, once you say those letters, you become a vegetable. Samsung and LG are enemies, they are like 2 states in a state, each state away from the other. LG might as well had been a North Korean company. Samsung stay in this island, LG stays in other. They are like warring families whose sons and daughters are not allowed to fall in love with each other.

    5. Otherwise, Korea is quiet safe. Walk anywhere, run anywhere and shop anywhere. Its as safe as a bank.

    Thats quiet enough for now… holy moly I have just 10 minutes left.

  13. @ iceborg: Thanks a lot for your extensive comments..

    While I am in total accordance with most of your comments, there was one point whose accuracy i am not so sure about. And again, the differences might be out of the different perspectives and social relations we have had :
    N.Korea Issue: Most of the S. Koreans I had met are like “they are like our brothers and we dont hate them”. They were pretty open about the feelings towards N.Koreans. Again, my conversations are limited to the general public and i intended to hint their opinions only.

  14. @Kiran,

    Yes that maybe true, since I normally don’t delve with SK’s about NK’s, hence I don’t really know about how SK’s feel about NK’s but I’ll take your observation as de facto.

    Anyways, I think opinions about North Koreans would really differ from one SK to other. Since it was North Korea which invaded on South Korea in 1950 and took it under its command within 3 days, and after a bloody battle ensued with the help of UN, US, Britain, Australia did South Korea regained its territory from North Korea and China (China colluded with NK in the Korean War). Hence, my analogy about SK’s not liking NK’s much.

  15. Hi,
    I am also interested in obtaining an internship position at Samsung this summer. Could you tell me how you were able to get your internship? TIA!

  16. Hi, my name is Tamia. This article is great. I have one questions is this company that you were talking about is Samsung Electronics in South Korea? Is this the work life in Samsung at South Korea? I really need you to reponse me as soon as possible. (Is there anyone that can answer my questions?) Thank You.

  17. Hello Kiran,

    I have received a job offer from Samsung Suwon and i would like to know few things about living conditions and the company. Can i email you my questions?

  18. Hello, could you tell me what you had to do to get into Samsung in Suwon? i’ve been trying to find internships in Korea and Samsung is one of my top places that I’m trying to get into. thank you in advance!

  19. μ•ˆλ…•ν•˜μ„Έμš” ^o^

    Currently, I am still a 2nd year student in the Philippines but as early as now I am already very much interested in applying for an internship in Samsung in Korea. Any tips and how was the interview? I am really scared since I heard the competition is really fierce..

    I hope you still see this. Gomawoyo.^o^

    • Hello Carolin. When is your interview? Just be your self and show them that you are open to coming into Korea. This is a great place with great people. Show your passion and you will be in. Good luck and see you in Samsung.

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