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‘Yaar, do mahine kaise niklege! (Dude, how will these two months pass!)’ were my parting words to my friends because none of them were coming to Samsung and South Korea isn’t a place frequently encountered on people’s bucket lists. So I was a little skeptical about the internship and what it would be like, leaving India in a morose mood. As the flight took off, however, hope took over. I didn’t know how South Korea would treat me, having absolutely no idea about the place. The only thing I knew, or rather people know, about Korea was the misanthropic North! But the less you speak about them here, the better it is. So Korea refers to South Korea hereon, unless stated otherwise.
After JEE results, if there is anything I have seen friends and relatives becoming curious about, then it’s the internship selections. After all, internships do hold that much gravity. No matter which branch you are from, which sector you are interested in, or what your future plans are, you will be investing a significant amount of time and energy for your preparations and during the selection process for interview(s). The only blessing CSE folks need during the internship season is ‘May the DSA be strong with you’, as coding tests are the key components for selection procedures of most companies. But sometimes not even the best of the Jedis are picked up by companies of the likes of Google/Facebook. So one needs to be prepared well.
I began my preparation with the onset of the 5th semester, which I later realized was quite late. I would strongly advise to start practising as soon as you can. There are no shortcuts and hacks for the coding rounds. I think the crux is you must be comfortable with coding common algorithms on the fly and be able to identify those in the given problem. Facebook, Google, Samsung, TRC are few of the most sought after companies for CSE guys. Unfortunately Facebook has closed its internship programme for undergrads and one has to apply externally to Google for which the final results come by February-March. Most of us didn’t want to gamble, so Samsung naturally became the hottest option for RnD guys.
Everland amusement park, with my teammates
Samsung had a well defined selection procedure. The JAF was open for both CSE and EE students. Roughly 45 people were shortlisted on the basis of resume (can be read as AIR cum CPI). Further, 14 people were selected for interviews after a coding round. All those who solved the question were selected for interviews. The problem given was quite simple but many people were out of touch hence could not make it. I wish to reiterate here, practice well for your coding rounds. No shortcut here, only practice! There were two interviews – HR and Technical. Both the interviews were quite straight-forward. Along with algorithmic questions, there were also some design questions in the technical interview. Finally, 7 of us were selected.
Phew! Looking back it seems so simple, but those were some stressful days!
How’s work like?
Samsung Digital City, the office campus, is spread out on nearly 390 acres of land. It boasts of sprawling scenery, that of tall buildings, greenery on road side and yeah, all those facilities you would have heard about at the big MNCs: free food, indoor and outdoor games, nap rooms, gyms, martial arts training, meditation, yoga classes and what not. We have been provided a decent accommodation, which is a 10 minute walk from the campus. Samsung has made this facility especially for foreign employees coming for short trips from India and Bangladesh. As a result, we get nice Indian food here. So food is not a problem, even if you are vegetarian. For non-veg junta, this place is a culinary heaven, according to one of my co-interns.
We have been allotted different divisions based on our interests. I am working in the Digital Appliances Division – Smart Home team. My job is to implement a module which collects data from smart home devices, refines it and then does some primary analysis. However, the intricacy lies in handling the huge dataset.This is not just a usual coding job, I also have to design the architecture for my module. I have done a couple of internships before, but this experience is quite different from those. The projects there were quite similar to the course projects we do in college. But here I am learning tools which I used to think only industry professionals could play with. I am sure I would be adding a lot of useful tools to my skillset with this internship.
Dorasan Station connecting Pyongyang and Seoul. The station is all set to start running trains if North and South reunite, someday.
First day at our intern, we had a fundae session by a IIIT Hyderabad alumnus. He has been here for over 7 years and has officially also become a Korean citizen. We couldn’t help but ask him what precisely in Korea had captivated him. He had a single word answer – people.
Yes, people here are amazing. They are extremely helpful, polite, humble and caring. I myself have encountered a number of incidents of people going way out of their way to help us. There are people in my team who take such good care of me that sometimes I feel like a child being pampered. Koreans have a strong sense of community bonding. All members of my team go for lunch together. We sit at the same table, start together and get up only when everyone is done. Another amazing thing about Korean people is their lifestyle. They have high standards of personal hygiene. Even cleaning and maintenance workers are seen well dressed, neat and tidy. Their food habits are also very healthy. Most Korean dishes consist of large quantities of vegetables. Their lifestyle goes a long way to speak about the meticulous care they take about their fitness, diet and physical appearance.
Breathtaking view of the capital from Seoul Tower
But that does not mean Koreans are an ‘Alok Nath sanskari’ tribe. People here know how to have fun as well. ‘Work hard, party harder’ holds best here. Korea is really a night owl’s paradise. After work, people like to get together and have dinner with a few drinks. I sometimes notice my teammates suffering from hangovers in meetings. People here also date a lot, blind dates are very common. I have met people here having counts running in double digits!
Since I came here, I have been efficiently using all my weekends to visit as many places as I can. One of the best attractions is, of course, the celebrity neighbour. The DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) tour was fascinating enough to make me imagine how exciting it would be to actually visit North Korea someday! In Korea, there are many palaces from Joseon dynasty, museums and traditional flea markets for art and history lovers. There are a couple of theme parks, which are favourite picnic destinations even for the local people here. Korea also has a vast coastline and a number of islands. Naturally it boasts of countless beaches, with beautiful people adorning them. Having mentioned earlier how much Korean people love drinking, there are a number of places populated with bars, clubs and pubs for party lovers as well.
You must have realized how much I love Korea by now! And that’s why I am sadly counting my days left. I still have so much to talk about Korea, but I am way beyond the word limit now. I will certainly miss this place once I am back home. The pleasant weather, awesome people, the healthy work culture and not to forget the amazing hospitality by Samsung; I will miss it all :’)
With fellow interns at Lotte World