Samsung Korea – Uday Kusupati

586 Views, Posted on: July 8, 2017

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Don’t trespass into North Korea!

This was more or less the same reaction from every friend of mine after knowing the news. Here is an account of my summer internship at Samsung Electronics, South Korea which actually involves getting a peek into North Korea.

The Selection:

As things roll out as every year, the onset of the 5th semester welcomed us with internship JAFs and the dilemma in signing them. Having my choices in research profiles, Samsung was one of the companies that came earliest. Candidates (from both CSE and EE) were shortlisted to an SW Certificate Test(as they call it) based on JEE AIR and CPI. Given the test duration, the test was actually pretty simple and straightforward. Shortlisted students had an interview round consisting of technical and HR interviews. The technical interview too was easy as the coding round, having not more than 2 algorithmic questions. I was asked about my previous Internships and projects. The HR round was more of a casual conversation about life at IITB and life at Samsung Korea. 7 candidates were finally shortlisted relieving them from the other JAFs.

*From now on Korea implies South Korea and SRK implies Samsung Research Korea

The Internship:

From the past few years, placements to SRK have been through the Samsung-IIT Internship programme (as they call it). So this intern is more of a job selection process than a research internship, though it is the both in most of the cases. Different Divisions spanning the Samsung Digital City, Suwon and the Seoul R&D Campus were allotted to the 14 interns from all the IITS(B,D,K to be precise) based mostly on our choices of projects. I am working in the DMC R&D Center at the Seoul Campus. Senior Engineers are allotted to the interns as mentors (given the hierarchical system at Samsung) so you know the one to go to.

The work can range from serious research focused on a publication or a made-up project just to see if you are capable for the job. Nevertheless, an outcome is expected from everyone. My current work is focused on Compression of Deep Neural Networks for Embedded AI. The work involves ideation more than implementation. Ideating with my mentor and a couple other teammates, taking ideas from recent papers and implementing them targeting a processing speed-up that doesn’t damage the accuracy more or less summarizes my work. Depending on how ambitious your mentor is and simultaneously the relevant work he has with him to assign to you, you may have to grind hours so that in a short intern, you can actually output a paper.

Having a research internship experience, I was inquisitive (read it apprehensive) about the R&D experience in the industry. Generalizations would be inappropriate, but my team and lab offer a research experience that comes with the requirement tag of consistent output (reasonable). The work system requires you to fill 9 hours a day, but the work atmosphere is employee-friendly as in most companies. Being the lazy person I am, I spend around 12 hours in the office most of the days, switching constantly between work and refreshments. Bridging the core research and the ever-growing software industry, SRK is one of the most influential centers, making you directly impact the masses.

The fun part, Life in Korea:

Language. The lone-biggest barrier so much that the e-mail and the team meetings are in Korean too. The short team talks about my work are in Korean too which my British-English speaking mentor has to translate for me. Once again, it is up to you to not see this negatively as Korean is much closer to the Indian languages. An oriental culture that went through Japanese colonialism and the huge western influence, Korea retains its originality. An unimaginable, mind-boggling (fill more extreme adjectives here) amount of technology is incorporated into the Korean routines. Personal hygiene and cleanliness are of utmost importance. People brush many times a day. Trash bins on streets are a rarity. Drinking is very common and I being a non-drinking, beef-eating Indian came as a shock to many here.

Interns at the Gyeongbokgung Palace

We live in the most expensive and crowded Gangnam, bustling not only with people but with the insane number of shops that fit the jigsaws of the towering skyscrapers. Being a global city, Seoul offers a lot of shopping options ranging from the traditional flea markets to the insane electronic markets at Yongsan. Beneath all this right below your feet, exists a whole different city with underground markets as crowded as any other place in Mumbai. Koreans spend a lot on beauty having the highest rate of cosmetic surgeries in the world. Baseball, Basketball, and Football are the Cricket here. The Korean meals are generally healthy(we get Indian too here at the office) and dinner is served as early as 6 pm. One more notable obsession is coffee. Averaging over 500 cups a year, a Korean citizen despises the word decaf. You thought New York has the most outlets of Starbucks? Nah. Seoul Baby!

Lotte World Tower, the 5th tallest building in the world and Han River 

View from the top

We were accommodated in a star hotel equipped with everything you need in a home. The first week was an extensive orientation about Samsung in general and our work in specific. Being on a hilly terrain, Korea in general and Seoul itself too has many hiking trails and Koreans of all ages just love hiking. The trek to Gwanaksan was a lovely one, and the trek to Daecheongbong Peak of Seoraksan standing 1708m tall on a rainy day was a memorable experience to most of my co-interns. The tour to the Demilitarized Zone between the Korean countries was an informative one giving a peek into the tunnels dug by North Korea targeting Seoul. The visit to the Gyeongbokgung palace with a local tour guide followed by a Korean vegan meal gave insights into the Korean culture. The trip to the Hawaii of Korea, Jeju is a breathtaking one. With its numerous beaches and a child island of its own (Udo which has its own child too), Jeju offered calm in life, midway through our stay in the ever-bustling Gangnam.

Sunrise at Seongsan Ilchul-bong, a dormant volcano on the east coast of Jeju

Conclusion:

As the internship starts turning into a memory, I remember my early days in Korea, the awe of tech I was in, the helpful teammates and the always there-for-you seniors, the TT encounters with arbit Koreans, the majestic Jeju, ever-lasting team dinners, and the best of all, the amazing work experience. Samsung’s transition from a hardware manufacturing company to a global marketing brand spanning every tech need is evident from the market shares and working at SRK is the closest you can get to have an instant impact on the millions of the world. The Samsung Innovation Museum here not only portrays the history of the electronics industry and the achievements of the South Korean tech giant, but also depicts Samsung’s vision for the future. An experience I will never forget, SRK offered an invaluable opportunity to cleanse my biases and stereotypes about East Asia, to be specific Korea. Heading towards the end of a successful internship, I feel geared up and rejuvenated more than ever.

 

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