Final Summary

As a result of this study abroad experience to South Korea, I have gained not only cultural experience, but also professional experience. We were able to witness different workplace environments and also work with students with different backgrounds. Samsung Biologics was the company that had the most similarities to my profession of bioengineering, so I was interested in how they work as a company the most. Samsung, an older company, has Korea’s hierarchy system engraved into the workplace environment. Under that system, whatever your boss says is law, and you must be respectful to those above you. Personally, I have never had a real job in a workplace, so these “rules” seemed like a given to me. It was not until we visited NAVER that I realized how strict the hierarchy system can be compared to a newer company. At NAVER, the environment is a little more egalitarian, meaning that employees can give their input to those that they work under. This would also seem like a given to me. While on tour, Samsung was specifically called out as being old and falling behind and that Korea’s social environment of professional life was changing. As an American who is not so used to the idea of status, I prefer a workplace environment that is more equal. That being said, I still would not be deterred from applying for the internship at Samsung Biologics that I mentioned in a previous blog post. I think it is important to experience different kinds of work environments to diversify my level of professionalism. From our visits, I could tell a difference between American and Korean companies, but that does not mean that all American companies are the same. Bioengineering is still young, so especially in my field, I cannot rely on simply my degree to advance my career. At dinner once, Dr. Yun told me that I should look into other degrees or certificates because of how hard it can be to get a job as a bioengineer. I certainly do plan on expanding my educational breadth by exploring possible minors and certificates, but also through internships and research opportunities. Graduate school might even be a possible option for me, but that decision is too far down the road for me at the moment. I think that this study abroad was a good first step at exposure to the opportunities that one can obtain just by going for things. I remember thinking that I would not be chosen for the trip and that I would just apply for the small chance that I could get in. I never thought that I would actually be going to Korea and experience these things, but I did, and it was awesome. I was able to meet different kinds of people both in Korea and from Pitt. Because this program was only after the first year, the engineers on the trip have been through the same things so far since we have not started to specialize yet, so I did not feel much of a difference between me and the other engineers in my group. The business students, however, felt different to talk to when it came to school because we have gone through completely different first years. It became a joke on the trip that we had our own hierarchy system, that the engineers were “better” than the business students (this of course was left as a joke). While we were working on the project though, it became clear that each of us have our strengths and weaknesses and that it was beneficial to be working in the multi-disciplinary teams. Us engineers were able to come up with the product and its attributes, and the business students were able to successfully present the business and marketing plan. Everything worked out amazingly, and I hope to keep in touch with all of them as the years go on, and we end up going our separate ways. We were friendly with each other, but like with most group projects we were able to turn serious and focused when needed. I think that is the most important part of a professional team: being able to work together in an agreeable and possibly fun mannor, but also know when to become focused; otherwise, there would be a failure of teamwork. I know that in any engineering field it is important to work in groups. Especially if I want to work in research, I need to be able to work compatibly with those supervising me and those that would aid or work under me. At Samsung Biologics, there is a goal in mind to better medicine and treatment of diseases, something that a person like me has a strong drive for. Even with the hierarchy system, as long as there is motivation and ambition to do a good job in all the team members, then the common mindset can set the group forward for success.

Leave a Reply