Volunteer Vigilante – Seongjin ChoShare open/close
- Seongjin Cho, Engineer, Application Processor Group, Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics, has mastered a life balance that allows ample time for work, family and volunteering
- Dedicating at least one day a week to volunteer activities with children and teenagers, Cho’s hobby has seen him travel internationally in his commitment to helping others over the past two years
- Not only does this hobby provide support to young people looking to learn more about information technology, but has granted Cho empathy and understanding in both his professional and personal lives
Samsung Electronics’ citizenship activities take all shapes and sizes, but one thing at the heart of all the volunteer activities undertaken by over 2,000 teams worldwide is talent sharing. The success of such activities is therefore tied to the personalities, sincerity and commitment of participating employees – but above all, empathy is key.
Many of Samsung Electronics’ employees’ volunteer activities take place outside of work hours, meaning that those involved have to manage a careful balance of work, family and volunteering. One such individual to have mastered this balance is an engineer in the Mobile Communications Business, Seongjin Cho, whose dedication to giving back to society speaks for itself: “my hobby is volunteering.”
Finding Time to Help
Since joining Samsung just over three and a half years ago, Cho has been kept very busy during working hours. He is responsible for defining and verifying specifications of smartphone applications (APs) for models to be released three years down the line. “I have to think a few years ahead,” notes Cho. “I have to understand the latest trends of competitors and, as a data engineer, I am always digging through data and trying to find how to create more competitive products.”
His weekends are kept just as busy as well – Sundays are reserved for spending family time with his wife and beloved six-year-old daughter, and as of the past two years, Saturdays have become his self-professed ‘Volunteer Day’ – a commitment that he takes very seriously.
Cho’s volunteer efforts focus on educational services for children and teenagers – a cause he has thrown himself into because of his own experience. “I was a troubled kid until I stumbled upon my mentor,” admits Cho. “The influence he provided me with moved me in the right direction. I realized I wanted to convey the miracle of mentoring to other children who might need my help.”
Having realized his aim in his volunteer activities, Cho began taking part in an education volunteer program for high school students near his office. Two years later and Cho now takes part in longer-term programs that see him working with mentees over extended periods of time, preferring these to one-off activities. His commitment to the cause has even taken him abroad – earlier this year, he served as Volunteer Team Leader for the Samsung Global Startup Acceleration Program in India.
His favorite programs to work on across his dedicated ‘Volunteer Days’ are those such as the Samsung Junior Software Cup and Samsung Smart School where he is able to assist beneficiaries thanks to his capabilities as a data engineer. “Last year, I delivered lectures on software for children via video livestream on social media. I had so much fun with it!” enthuses Cho.
Taking part in these programs connecting him with children from all manner of backgrounds via technology has granted Cho a unique understanding of his beneficiaries. “This year, I have been volunteering at an elementary school. I listen to what the students want and work together with them to help address their issues. It’s all very rewarding.”
Cho notes that the time he spends throwing himself into volunteer activities pays off not just for his beneficiary groups, but for his professional one, too. “I learn so much while communicating with all manner of people during volunteer activities. Talking with them has enabled me to look beyond my comfort zone,” he notes. “Without my volunteer experience, I would have had a harder time understanding my team members and communicating with them.”
The personal growth granted to him as an individual by his tireless dedication to helping others has not gone unnoticed by Cho. “This undertaking has changed me so much from my past self, who possessed practically zero degrees of empathy,” jokes Cho. “During my volunteer work, I often meet other professionals from different fields. I have gained insight about my job that means I can look at things from a wide range of perspectives.”
While such an involved hobby might be thought to take its toll on Cho’s family life, he cites his wife as his “greatest support” for his volunteer work. He credits the time spent with his wife in which they share their goals and resolutions together as fostering this; “we rarely argue because we fully understand each other and share our schedules in advance.”
The next step in Cho’s volunteering journey is to study Social Welfare at an online university. “I am already here in the volunteering field,” muses Cho. “Like hiking, reading, or watching a movie is to others, this is my hobby.” And his goal for this esteemed hobby? “I hope to get to a place where I am sharing insights with someone as my mentor did for me, and then they go on to do wonders for someone else.” What an achievement that would be.