All good things come to an end
It is hard to believe how fast time flies when you’re having fun… The last 6 weeks have flashed by me in a blink of an eye and here I am, sorting out my notes and the baggage before a connecting flight back to Europe. Working in Samsung SDS as living in Seoul was definitely the peak of my summer this year and it has been a very rewarding experience. I also had a fun time writing this blog and I am a bit sad that this is the last entry – but I will try to make it useful for future applicants and anyone interested in Samsung. If you’re in a hurry, just scroll through the FIRST, SECOND and THIRD PIECES OF ADVICE and you’ll get the most important stuff out of it.
First things first – the final presentation and the reaction. Typically, no matter how hard one tries and manages his or her time, the day before the final deadline (especially if it’s for a longer than two week period of work) is the longest one as it includes an overnighter. My case was not special – I had to stay up quite late to finalize some of the content and then wake up early in the morning to put together and tweak the final presentation slides as the meeting itself was in the afternoon. To cut a long story short, I did not have the luxury of relaxing before the presentation and I finished just in time for it. Some of our colleagues had gone on business trips during the day we were presenting, including our mentor, so it was a shame they couldn’t attend. Nevertheless, the Vice President of the department was there, as well as the General Managers so we were ready for some tough questions. I started first and have slightly gone over the time limit. It all went rather well, not too exceptional; we had a discussion about the content afterwards. Without going into too much detail, I will give my first piece of advice here:
FIRST PIECE OF ADVICE: Whenever you have a piece of work to be presented to a number of interested parties, especially if it effects their work, their position in the institution or even their mood in a slightest way – give yourself a head-start by discussing some of the finer details of your work output with them before the final meeting. In Management Consultancy this closely relates to a phenomenon called Syndication. In order to do this, you have to have your work, the final content, quite a bit prior to the deadline to give yourself time to adjust to other people’s schedule and go around discussing it privately with them. Once you had their opinions, you can make the required changes and there are no ‘surprises’ or points in need of clarifying during the final meeting. Just make sure that by doing so, you’re not giving ‘private’ final presentations – be picky about what you discuss based on what is supposed to be most interesting to the person you’re discussing the item with.
Now that’s all theory – did I do it in practice? The short answer is no. The longer one – not to the fullest. Because I was late in finalizing my content I could not give myself a head start and discuss it prior to the final presentation. Then again, this internship was about learning something useful: now I know from experience that Syndication is important and why that is the case. Despite that, the Vice President was happy with the output of my work, as well as my colleagues and we were both offered a position either in Samsung SDS’s Seoul office or the London office if we were interested as we both are graduates. I guess this removed some of the pressure and was a sign of good performance.
We had a really nice dinner with two General Managers and one colleague afterwards in a lovely Indian restaurant and left for a Korean place afterwards with another colleague who has recently had his first child – competing for attention was a bit difficult. Nevertheless, we had a really good evening of honest discussion accompanied by a huge bowl of clams and other seafood – very Korean-like. My colleague was supposed to go on a trip around Eastern Asia that Sunday while I stayed in Seoul on the following Monday. So here comes the second piece of advice:
SECOND PIECE OF ADVICE: Leave yourself one or two days after the finalization of the project, if you can, to come into the office. Apart from the usual wrap-up these days are you free ticket with the ‘High-Speed-Networking-Express’. Think about it: you have completed your project and your colleagues by now should both know your work capabilities as well as your personality – hence you have the best chance to have open and useful discussions. This is the time when you add everyone to your LinkedIn/Skype/Viber/anything else take their cards, thank them and discuss the most important things which can range from opportunities within the company to the colour they chose for their new Porsche (hey, maybe you don’t want to make the same mistake of buying the beige one…). If you have no more responsibilities it also means that you can adjust to the schedule of the executive staff and meet them at a suitable time – if any formal or informal offers were not on the table previously, now is the time to pitch. Use this time wisely and use it well – it can be a game changer, especially if you are thinking of working in a similar region in the future (e.g. when you graduate or after a few years of experience). And even if you’re not, you never know… so best keep the options open.
Personally, I had a really good final day and spoke with pretty much everyone available around the department. A bunch of honest conversations helped my ‘finalize’ my experience in Seoul. I’ve also gone to the Demilitarized Zone on the weekend and saw a guy riding a bicycle in North Korea – a great thing to add on one’s CV… I ticked most of the boxes prepared for this 6 week experience and I can definitely say it has lived up to the expectations and exceeded them in many ways.
Therefore, I would like to use this last blog entry to thank all the team in the University of Birmingham Careers Network for coming up with this scheme, opening it to final years, giving me the chance and supporting me throughout the whole way. I would also like to thank Samsung SDS for doing their best in taking me in and being the friendliest office I have seen. I’d also like to thank my colleague for keeping me company and putting up with me . I hope that next year the Global Challenge will not only be as good, it will be better: more options, more applications, more competition but just as much fun. Thank you all.
THIRD PIECE OF ADVICE. Having said all of that, this is the final and the most important piece of advice I can give to students: no matter how busy you’re with your studies, societies, going out, relationships, etc. – take the time to APPLY for the Global Challenge next year. Research it well, read the blogs, think of what kind of experience you want and why you want it and show that to everyone else in your application (the application must reflect WHY you want it especially, if you don’t know how to do it, seek for advice in the Careers office). If you need to read an extra book on Marketing to work in South America – do it. If you need to learn the basics of Japanese to show your commitment to applying for that role in Japan – do it. If you need to spend an overnighter preparing the application – do it. It is more than worth it. APPLY. Best of luck to you all.
P.S. If you have any questions you’d like to ask when you’re reading this about Samsung SDS or South Korea, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org