UMSI students intern in UMSI's first Korean program

Two UMSI students are interning this summer at digital companies in one of the world’s most high-tech cities, home to electronics conglomerates such as Samsung and LG.

Launched this summer, the internships in Seoul, Korea, are a first for the School of Information. The program was borne from a desire expressed by UMSI Dean Thomas Finholt, who wanted UMSI students to gain exposure in high-tech societies outside the United States. The Korean capital boasts a comprehensive internet infrastructure and is recognized as one of the world’s most technologically advanced and digitally connected cities.

The aim of the program is for students to not only gain professional skills in their career interests but also expand their cross-cultural knowledge. The students have nine weeks to live, intern, explore and learn in Seoul.

“As far as we know, we are one of the first schools or colleges at the University of Michigan to launch an internship program in Seoul,” said Katie Dunn, career counselor and internship coordinator for UMSI.

The interns are Hope Schaeffer, a master’s student from St. Charles, Missouri, who is specializing in information analysis and retrieval (IAR), and Christian Baird, an undergraduate student from Mt. Clemens, Michigan, who is focusing on information analysis.

In the above photograph, Hope is second from left; Christian is fourth from left in back.

Hope is interning with MediaZen, Inc., a software provider for voice recognition in vehicles whose clients include Korean automakers Kia and Hyundai. she has been working with the Natural Language Processing Team, doing data collection and processing for voice recognition software projects.

“It has been interesting working with native speakers of the various languages (English, Korean, Spanish, French) during data collection and observing their user experiences,” Hope said by e-mail from Seoul. “The experience has been particularly invaluable for me because I hope to work as an information professional in Asia in the future." 

This is not Hope’s first time in Korea. She spent three years there as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, teaching at a high school and doing a homestay. “I was very excited to spend time in Korea this summer and connect in an SI-related way. Specifically, I appreciate the chance to intern at a software company and learn more about Korea’s local tech industry,” she said.

Christian is interning with Day2Life, a startup company that has developed a scheduling app called Timeblocks to help make planning easier. He is creating a Wordpress site to help the company start blogging and has developed a couple of Java-based web applications that will aid in its new marketing campaign. He’s also working to implement Stripe API into their system so the company can phase out Paypal and have a more seamless system in place for advertisers to use.

“The program interested me largely due to the desire to travel and South Korea has always interested me because my grandfather fought in the Korean War while he was in the Marines,” Christian said. “I also hoped to gain practical work experience from my time abroad and develop my skills as a worker.”

Posted August 2, 2017