The Fourth Class of SSAFY Takes the First Step Towards Their Dream
South Korea

How can we fill in the gap between book-knowledge and real-world workplace? You can find the answer in Samsung Software Academy for Youth (SSAFY), a course where aspiring young people who want to become software experts engage in practical training needed in the workplace.

SSAFY is a yearlong software training program hosted by Samsung Electronics and sponsored by Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor. On August 7, a virtual welcome ceremony was held for the fourth SSAFY class. The ceremony was to encourage the 500 students who will go through an intensive curriculum that will equip them with real-world coding skills required in the field.

Keeping first things first

The ceremony this year was special as it was moved online to avoid in-person contacts amid COVID-19 health concerns. Newly entering trainees across the country- in Seoul, Daejeon, Guangju and Gumi- joined the live streaming event to celebrate their first step in SSAFY.

Recruitment process was also special this year. Interview was the only in-person process throughout the program, and stringent restrictions were put in place to prevent any health risks. Interviewees went through a temperature check via non-contact thermal imaging cameras before they entered the venue, and every interviewee and interviewer were separated with clear acrylic boards. In addition to the preventive measures, there were first responders and negative pressure tents set in place as part of a contingency plan.

Graduates and Samsung executive delivers sincere encouragement

The event started off with a brief introduction on the yearlong course, followed by testimonials of top previous trainees. The remarkable achievement stories of former SSAFY students served as a motivation to instill a sense of courage to the incoming students.

“Talented software developers like you will be stewards of the fast-changing world,” said Lim Seo-jung, a Vice Minister of Employment and Labor, encouraging the students. “I can’t wait to see all of you grow as a professional developer, outfitted with robust software skills through the SSAFY course.”

Kihong Na, Samsung’s Vice President of Corporate Human Resource Department, also delivered his word to boost motivation. “Defining a clear set of goals and maintaining active, positive attitude are the key,” he said. “Always keep your passion and persistence.” Na added that he expects to see “accomplished developers who will prove their value in the 4th Industrial Revolution era.”

Sukyoung Ryu is a professor of Computing Theory and Software Design in Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) and she is also one of the advising professors for the SSAFY course. She defines 4th Industrial Revolution as a ‘Data-led world’ and highlights the importance of strengthening the talent pipeline of software experts. “Us advising professors will do everything we can to make SSAFY course a top-notch curriculum like no other, and make the year fruitful for all of you,” said Ryu.

Learning ‘the SSAFY life’

After the warm welcome in the first part of the event, the students moved on to the second part, which was an orientation of the course. Through fun quizzes and games, students got a heads-up of what their year in SSAFY would be like.

Trainees and graduates from the previous SSAFY class also joined to pass on their useful tips they acquired from their own experience at SSAFY. “The most helpful advice was when the previous trainees told us about their stories in SSAFY,” said Jun-hyuk Lee, an entering trainee. He especially thanked them for giving diverse tips ranging from note-taking tips to practical advice. Through the second session of the welcome event, students were able to learn what they wanted to know the most.

After the heartwarming advice session, a thorough explanation of the course was held. The first semester in SSAFY is an immersive coding training with a goal to equip students with basic coding capabilities, and the second semester involves self-guided projects that will train them to develop real-workplace skills as a developer. Two job fair events are also arranged exclusively for SSAFY trainees to bring students closer to their dream jobs. Trainees were later quizzed on the orientation contents as a reminder, and the event wrapped up with an instruction on Start Camp schedules and attendance guide.

“I want to become a skilled software developer that can stack up against experienced developers.”

Yelim Jung is one of the non-software-major trainees that are joining SSAFY this year. She praises the constructive course for including intensive theories and diverse projects planned for the second semester. “I want to finish the course successfully and become a skilled software developer that can stack up against any other experienced developers,” says Jung.

Meanwhile, So-young Kwon majored software in college and has participated in many internships and projects but says it was never easy to get the job she wanted in the field. She particularly showed interest in the project-learning semester. “What I learned during my job-seeking days was that interviewers expect strong experience in hands-on projects,” says Jung “I want to further my career as a developer by being involved in diverse projects in the second semester.”

The fourth class of SSAFY is now all set to go, with Start Camp remaining as their last checkpoint before the actual beginning of the course. As educational environment largely requires a new form of pedagogy as it is migrating on-line, SSAFY is implementing an innovative format of Flipped Learning experience. In Flipped Learning, students study the theories and skills on-line and apply what they learned in in-person project-type practicums. Samsung will continue to devise constructive ways to nurture talented software developers that will take the lead in the future.

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