Noonsong has started preparing for employment but has a lot of worries. In order to succeed in getting a job, she needs to know a lot about a variety of different companies, but that information was not easy to come by. Moreover, she felt burdened by having to do research on each company's website or join job-related websites. She suddenly remembered getting help from an alliance program at school when she prepared for her exams. She wondered if there were any alliance programs related to employment, so she did a search to see if she could find any helpful programs. Luckily, she found one and happily logged on to the website.
Nourishment for success
Students can easily prepare their job because the partnerships help them with self-improvement and cost reduction. There are many types of programs that aim to match students' needs. For instance, there are alliances with hospitals, software program companies, and other various employment-related sites, and so on. SMWU is also affiliated with a number of well-known corporations such as Microsoft, which provides information on its MS Office 365 software, and because of the partnership with it, students can use the company's software to write reports, prepare for presentations, and organize vast amounts of research data. The school is also connected to many affiliated sites that can be accessed through the school library sites. By partnering with companies such as RISS and Google Scholar, knowledge, information, and materials are benefits students enjoy. In addition, some companies offer online lectures by public officials, staff at the employment-related course site Park MungakEdupa, computer experts from the IT course site ITGO, and staff at the language course site Hackers. Sookmyungians wishing to join an alliance program need to refer to the different methods of joining listed on the sites. Most often students just need to register with their private or school e-mail address or their student number. Sookmyungians are free to use the school address, which is (Student ID)@sookmyung.ac.kr, to sign up or log in. The procedure for utilizing the alliance programs is not complex, so students can easily follow the procedure and benefit from using them. More details can be found in the Sookmyung Portal System or on the Sookmyung Women's University Library site.
Colleges on campus are also establishing alliances with companies. For example, the College of Economics & Business Administration formed an alliance with Sinchon YBM from January to February of this year. Students benefited from a 30% discount on tuition fees and free textbooks. In addition, from March to December of this year, an agreement with ITBTM provides students majoring at that same college with a 20% discount on tuition fees. Last year, besides this academic-industry alliance, the College also partnered with an ophthalmic clinic for eyesight correction surgery. All of these partnerships are not restricted to the College of Economics & Business Administration, but are also at other colleges such as the College of Social Sciences, the College of Liberal Arts, and others. In order to use the services provided by the affiliated companies, students should show their student ID cards or access to chat-rooms created by the affiliated companies. Although some differences in alliance programs exist at Sookmyung's various colleges, there is one thing they have in common. All programs are designed to help students. To learn about the various alliance programs at the different colleges, students can check another organization's community, SMWU's community SnoWe, Smart Sookmyung, Instagram, and Naver Café.
Satisfaction vs. Dissatisfaction
To investigate Sookmyungians' satisfaction with the alliance program, SMT conducted a survey that first asked whether students were familiar with SMWU's various partnerships and programs. When asked whether they had ever accessed information from the SMWU alliance programs (for example: MS Office 365, Hackers, and Job Planet), 106 out of 122 respondents (86.9%) said they had.1) It appears that most respondents are aware of SMWU's affiliate programs. Also, 74 out of 87 respondents (85.1% including multiple respondents) claimed to have known about alliance programs through the other organization community site. Only 21 respondents (24.1%) said they knew about the programs on SnoWe. Also, Instagram users had 9 respondents (10.3%). While there are various platforms on which to learn about the alliance programs, most students were found to use other corporations' community sites. Considering that most students are using off-campus sites, it seems that SMWU needs to help Sookmyungians more actively access information on its own sites. Also, when asked if they ever used an alliance program, 89 out of 122 respondents (73%) said they had. Thirty-three out of 122 respondents (27%) responded that they had never made use of any program. One anonymous Sookmyungian said, "I don't know what programs there are and I don't know how to use them." It implied that students are not making use of the alliance programs due to a lack of information. Additionally, another anonymous Sookmyungian said, "There is no program that I want to use." It also seems that while there are a number of useful programs, for some students the current programs are not meeting their needs.
SMT also asked participants about their level of satisfaction with the alliance programs to recognize the problem. Survey results found that 66 out of 122 respondents (54.1%) were generally satisfied. However, 56 out of 122 respondents (45.9%) expressed dissatisfaction with SMWU's alliance programs. Overall, then, the majority of respondents were satisfied, but the ratio difference is small. This shows that there is a need to reform some aspects of the alliance program. When asked, 'What are you mainly satisfied with?' 49 out of 65 respondents (75.4%) said the alliance programs are practical. The alliance programs currently being offered appear to be realistically helping students. However, when asked about improvements to the programs, 49 out of 78 respondents (62.8%) said they would like to see more variety. In other words, practical alliance programs are being provided to students, but students would like to see those programs become more diversified. In order to encourage more participation in alliance programs, it seems that SMWU needs to look at expanding its partnerships to include more various companies. Actually, one anonymous Sookmyungian said, "SMWU should also more aggressively promote the programs so that more alliances can be formed. Our tuition fee remains the same even though we don't have access to many services, so I would hope the school establishes more various alliance programs that Sookmyungians can take advantage of." As this respondent's comment shows, there is room for improvement, especially in today's non-face-to-face environment when it is difficult for students to utilize school infrastructures due to COVID-19.
Changes or Improvements?
As mentioned above, SMWU's established alliance programs are being met with both satisfaction and dissatisfaction among Sookmyungians. To learn more about the motives for establishing and the process of creating an alliance program, SMT interviewed a representative from SMWU. The interview mainly discussed the recent alliance with Job Planet. According to Sookmyung Women's University's Career Design Center, the alliance with Job Planet was initiated after comments posted by students on the school bulletin board. Originally, the school offered a program similar to Job Planet, called Educe. It was difficult for SMWU to form an alliance with Job Planet due to budgeting concerns. However, after reviewing students' comments, the school determined that Sookmyungains wanted more differentiated and diverse options for information and tips, so the school made a contract with Job Planet, which started in April. Because of students' demands for this particular alliance program, the school took their voice into consideration and allotted funds from the budget to form an alliance with the company. Most Sookmyungians are content with this partnership. In fact, one anonymous Sookmyungian said, "Job Planet is one of the most popular job hunting sites. However, I felt it was burdensome financially because I had to pay to access it. Students are now about to freely access the site thanks to the partnership." The Job Planet alliance has reduced the cost of preparing students for employment. In addition, another anonymous Sookmyungian replied, "Before the Job Planet alliance, it was not easy to obtain the information I wanted, so I used to ask my friends at other schools to get it for me, but now I can get it easily without having to request information from my friends." It used to be difficult to obtain information, but now with the newly formed Job Planet alliance, it has eased students' difficulty. However, while the contract with Job Planet begins in April of this year, it ends in June of next year. If the number of users is small after a review by school authorities, the school will eliminate funding for the alliance from next year's budget, and it will be once again difficult to access information from that company. During the interview, the school representative said, "I hope the program will continue to be made available to students, but for that to happen, students need to make ample use of it." It seems that Sookmyungians need to show continuous interest in the Job Planet alliance program for the alliance survival.
The alliance with Job Planet has been met with huge satisfaction, but students (106 out of 122 respondents or 86.9%) would like to see a wider range of alliance programs. In other words, students are not completely satisfied. In addition, a majority of students wanted SMWU to form an alliance that would enable them to use the Adobe private program. One Sookmyungian said, "I didn't used to use Adobe, but I have a lot of work that involves the Adobe program for club activities and external activities now. However, it costs me a lot of money each month for the right to use that program." In other words, some students, even if they do not use it for school work, are increasingly using Adobe programs for self-improvement and many of them are suffering from the high costs of using Adobe programs. In addition, the School of Media and the College of Fine Arts students, who must use Adobe programs or other private editing programs are experiencing inconveniences. When asked about whether SMWU should form an alliance with a personal editing program company, all of 65 respondents answered they would love to see that. One anonymous Sookmyungian, from a major in one of those faculties said, "It's a software that helps learning, so I hope an alliance is formed. Tuition fees are also expensive, and it's burdensome to have to pay for Adobe every month as a student." As this student demonstrates, departments in which students need to frequently utilize editing programs should seek alliances, such as with Adobe.
Until Sookmyungians' needs are satisfied
SMWU has formed alliances with many companies based on an assessment of students' needs, which has not only helped students develop themselves but also reduce their financial burden. Most of all, the alliances have relieved a lot of the burden of preparing for employment. However, a large number of students are still dissatisfied with the lack of diversity of alliances and would like to see the school form a partnership with Adobe private program, regardless of their major. It seems that the school needs to monitor students' needs and make an effort to set aside funds for establishing alliances.
1) The total number of students enrolled is 12,391, with a survey participation rate of about 1%