Like so much else these days, career mentoring in the semiconductor industry has gone virtual. And, among hiring managers, for good reason: Chip companies are facing a new urgency to hire skilled workers as recent SEMI forecasts spanning packaging materials and fab equipment spending show strong growth in 2021 – a trajectory that puts even more pressure on an industry confronted with a worker shortage to attract and recruit new talent.
Enter SEMI Korea, which early this month gathered nearly 4,000 sheltered-in-place South Korea university students to offer tips from semiconductor industry insiders on how to kick-start their careers in the chip business. In 14 sessions over three days, industry powerhouses offered guidance across topics ranging from educational preparation and job skills to resume writing and interviewing. Like last year’s on-site event, students from Seoul accounted for the bulk of those online for Campus Outreach On-Air. But this year saw a far higher turnout of students in provincial cities thanks to the ease and convenience of virtual communications – a silver lining in the age of COVID-19.
Establishing a successful career in the semiconductor industry starts with a mix of soft and hard skills, according to Changjin Kang, CEO of SEMES, one of the top 10 global semiconductor equipment companies. Keynoting the event, Kang pointed to six key attributes in particular – caring, resilience, execution, analysis, tenacity and experience – under the acronym C.R.E.A.T.E.
Caring means empathy for colleagues, understanding their unique work environment and challenges, and building strong relationships. To help cope with the stress that can come with working in the industry, workers must be also be resilient by managing the emotional demands of a job and getting enough rest. Execution comes down to thorough, methodical planning. Carefully analyzing information to make data-driven decisions is a critical aspect of successful outcomes, while having the tenacity to push through difficult technical challenges helps engineers develop the right solutions. And getting out from behind the desk to learn from colleagues is important in building experience.
Human resources representatives and engineers from Applied Materials, ASML, Dongjin Semichem, EO Technics, Jusung Engineering, KLA, Lam Research, Merck, PSK, SEMES, SK Siltron, TEL and Wonik IPS shared with the students the key competencies needed to forge a career in the semiconductor industry. Engineers pointed to the benefits of improving their English skills through language training and continuing their education by pursuing engineering certificates. Human resources representatives stressed the importance of a global mindset since, as part of the global semiconductor ecosystem, engineers and other staff often communicate via conference calls with colleagues around the world.
In a post-event survey, the students – all digital natives – awarded the event 4.3 out of 5 points for overall satisfaction and made clear that they prefer online Campus Outreach to the on-site event.
“Thanks to SEMI and the companies for providing a great opportunity to meet experts and HR managers,” one student pointed out in the survey. “It was very useful because it opened up opportunities for many students to communicate with semiconductor companies.”
“It was nice to know what works semiconductor engineers do,” said another, “and how as university students they prepared for employment.”
SEMI Korea thanks the nine semiconductor companies that sponsored Campus Outreach On-Air to help build the industry’s talent pipeline and the students for their invaluable participation.
Jaegwan Shim is a marketing specialist at SEMI Korea.