To what lies ahead

It’s July, I’m in full swing in my internship, and I’m diving head first into fall recruiting preparation already. Before I know it, I’ll be on my way to my first class of my last year of college and that is terrifying. And while that may be the case, I have been learning and absorbing so much about business, professional development, and simply building meaningful relationships with people. These are things that I definitely take back with me to school and into my future career.

So far in this internship experience, I’ve received a lot of exposure of not only supply chain but other functional areas in its periphery. I am getting to work on a couple projects for an integrated business manager which is a position I’m starting to think would fit me if I were to continue my career in industry. I’ve also met a lot of leaders with very good insight on how to plan for and succeed in whatever career path I choose. One of my favorite tips that I’ve heard is having a balance between processes and positive relationships to facilitate sustainable success. I 100% believe that both qualities are necessary in any job function.

I have noticed that a lot of people assume that I do not know where I want my career to head yet, which is a reasonable expectation for a college student. But I’m no normal college student. One director that I had a conversation with gave me the advice to have a 10 year plan, to make small career move objectives that will help me get to where I want to be in 10 years. Little did he know that I already had a 5 year plan put in place since last year! If you’ve been following my posts, you know that I know exactly where I want to be by age 25, starting my own nonprofit organization that provides entreprenuership education and consulting services to minority/women small business owners

And to get there, I’ve modified my smaller objectives a bit since the goal dawned on me. I feel like I’m juggling a million things right now, and despite my pushback on the model minority stereotype, I am doing all that it takes to get all the experience I need to fulfill my goal. My first priority is to secure a post-graduate job in a consulting firm. While it would be amazing to get an offer from an MBB firm, I’m grounded in reality. This is like college applications all over and getting into on of these firms straight out of college is tougher than getting into an Ivy League school. I’m currently studying up on the interview process and it’s a bit overwhelming. But if anyone out there is looking for a partner to practice case interviews with I’m your girl. I’m also attempting to build my network, which is hard for an introvert. I just need to keep in mind that the more attempts I make the better I will get and the more likely I can sustain the relationship.

I’m filling the cracks of my spare time with some experience in the Asian American and nonprofit spaces. I will soon be a one third of a social media management team for an Asian American nonprofit media website. (I will reveal it when this becomes more concrete!) I am also hoping to be able to get my feet wet in a research project about diversity in business with a professor/mentor at school, and I am going to go full force with one more year in our Asian Student Association as a student leader and hopeful organizer.

And on top of all that I have my personal life too. It’s not really something I talk about on my blog, but now it’s getting to the point where I am close to thinking about my future and what this means in terms of maintaining relationships with friends and family. I don’t want to be the person that puts her job first, but that’s precisely who I am. But I think what makes it different for me is that I know what I’m doing it for. It’s not the money or prestige. I just want to be able to help those in need with my strengths. And in the end, I want to be a founder and owner, in control of my own life and happiness. To what lies ahead…

A changing vision

I’m having second thoughts, not on what I want to do but how I’m going to get there. If you follow my blog and my life closely, and know my inner most contemplative thoughts, wishes, and dreams (which I doubt because I rarely tell anyone everything) you would know that last year I attended ECAASU, which helped me to realize that I wanted to start a women and minority empowering nonprofit after I graduate, I entered a start up competition with this concept last month (I find out if I make the pitch level tomorrow), and that I currently have an amazing internship in supply chain lined up for me this summer.

But even with all of these plans and future opportunities to develop myself and learn, I am faced with doubts and insecurities. My passion for social justice work and proactivity for career advancement are constantly at heads with each other. I am a walking contradiction, a student in the business school surrounded by people who want to make money who wishes that the exploitation that accompanies capitalism did not exist. An activist who is just awakening to the idea that real change can only been made outside of our existing structures yet continues to fall back into the security and comfort of these structures. Change outside of the structure is so idealistic and it’s impossible to live outside of it, so I have come to terms that as long as I am conscious of how my future organization does its work I can help make a difference.

Then comes the doubts that I am not prepared enough now and won’t be right after I graduate to do the work I want to do. The reason why I want to help small businesses is because I am business-oriented myself. And the reason why I want to start my own organization is because I want to have a personal impact on people’s lives. One aspect of the nonprofit organization I want to found is consulting, but at this point in time, I have no idea what that entails. If I were to start in the next few years, I don’t want to outsource that work. I want to do it myself.

I need and want the experience in consulting before I graduate college but with one and a half years to go I’ve already committed myself to a supply chain internship for the summer. It was one of the first and few internships I applied to in the fall. I got an interview and I was shocked to receive an offer so soon. I didn’t have time to reflect on the direction I want to go or look for any other opportunities. The opportunity was rare and amazing and the time pressure was great. I will definitely learn something from it and I am really looking forward to working with such a great company, but there is this little part of me that wishes I had a chance to explore my options, learn a little more about my field, and what I could do with it.

Currently, I’ve made it my mission to begin working towards obtaining an entry-level position in consulting upon graduating. I don’t know how hard it will be without a consulting internship, but I think I have a fair shot at some firms. However, the really famous firms that I want to aim for probably aren’t looking for candidates like me. I only get more apprehensive when I see that their recent hires are from Ivy Leagues.

But with this plan in place I’m hoping to gain some experience in consulting, 2 or 3 years, and still be able to start working on my own nonprofit by the time I am 25. The end goal is the same but the means are a little different.

I think I’m done rambling. Good night world. I’m up early tomorrow heading to Pittsburgh for a case competition!

One or the other?

If there is anything that I am not lacking, it is the inspiration and motivation to literally do it all. You cannot make a person like me a choose between two very different yet very equally fulfilling opportunities.

And yet there I was Thursday night at 7pm presented with this circumstance.

There are two sides of me: a logical one that loves to use Excel spread sheets to make life decisions and a passionate one that wants to trample social injustice and provide everyone with equal opportunities for success.

My initial career goal when I began college was to make it big as a business person. I was going to become some high earning top management professional and make more money than I needed so that I could help others in need with the spare change.

But last year I attended ECAASU 2013 at Columbia and it changed everything for me. I found my inspiration to take those risks that I was too afraid to take before and enter the nonprofit industry and possibly even start my own organization. It wouldn’t be a financially lucrative but I think the meaningfulness would make up for it.

This past semester while I was looking for internships and applying to jobs, the conflict between these two roads, the  safe route and the risk, was a constant factor. I thought that as long as I was still in school, I would do my best to get experience in both areas so I could make a rational decision upon senior year and graduation. So after I secured a summer internship in supply chain with a globally known company that could definitely take me places if I followed through, I did my best to contact nonprofit organizations to offer my services to them for free over winter break, with one response and no luck finding something in time for break. Bummer, but at least there was still ECAASU 2014 in Washington, DC. Or so I thought.

I think it all begins with my varying interests and involvement in student organizations.

As a member of our Operations Management Association, I snatched up the opportunity to join our APICS (Association for Operations Management) case competition team. I was super excited for the opportunity to travel, network, and get some more experience working on real-world business problems.

And as one of the members of our Asian Student Organization’s executive board that attended the conference last year, I took it upon myself to be on the lookout for registration information and dates for this year. I was involved in the ability for our organization to attend again from the very beginning. I’ve been waiting a year, literally since the day after the conference, to go again.

Originally these two events took place on two different weekends in February. I thought I could do both. I found out last night at 7pm that they were now to be held on the same weekend.

I’m starting to believe that life is one giant fractal of difficult life decisions embedded into each other and to navigate that maze you must be careful to make the right choices that will lead you to your ultimate goal.

The logical part of me, the scared part of me, my parents, and my friends never fail to bring to light the rational decision to do all that I can to get a financial safety net and business savvy before I venture out into the unpredictable world of social entrepreneurship. My friends probably think it’s silly of me who clearly has the brains and the opportunities to throw them away for a “frivolous” conference. It was really no question as to what I should do, go to the competition rather than the conference, but it was the admission that to make this decision might be closing doors to new ideas and insights for my social activism and to inspiration that would keep me going when I had to make difficult decisions like this. What I’ve been afraid of happening already is. I’m losing the fire I felt on the last day of the conference to make a change in our society. I’m falling into the safe route. It’s comfortable but it doesn’t make me completely happy. I don’t to make it a habit that will trap me in a cubicle for the rest of my life.

In the seventh grade, my history teacher told me that he wish he could clone me so that he would have more students like me. Now I wish I could clone myself so I could do everything I want to in this world. No matter how hard you work, it’s not possible for you to be in two places at once. I think I need to borrow Hermione’s Time Turner.

“Small Town Moon” and Big City Dreams

 I must’ve lived a thousand times
But every day begins the same
‘Cause there’s a small town in my mind
How can I leave without hurting everyone that made me?

Oh, baby, baby, it’s all about the moon
I wish you wouldn’t have broken my camera
‘Cause we’re gonna get real old real soon
Today we’re younger than we ever gonna be

Stop, stop, what’s the hurry?
Come on, baby, don’t you worry, worry
Everybody not so nice, nice

Thought you ought to know by now
I thought you ought to know by now
Everybody not so nice, nice
Everybody not so nice, nice

Ever since I listened to Regina Spektor’s Small Town Moon when it came out last year, I felt an immediate connection to the song, without even realizing how much it would reflect my feelings right now. For me, this song is about growing up in the comfort of your home in a small town and struggling with the difficulties of wanting to stay behind and wanting to take a risk and pursue your passions.

This summer when I went to Hong Kong I listened to this song for comfort. Because of Regina, I knew I was not alone in my feelings that in falling in love with a city halfway across the globe I was abandoning everything that I grew up knowing back in the tiny state of Delaware. It somehow made it okay not to be homesick.

But now I am back in Delaware, and although I do not go to school in the same town where I spent my pre-college days I have difficulty reconciling that if I want to follow my dreams of starting a non-profit that empowers women and minority business owners, especially of Asian descent, I might have to leave the state where the majority of my family lives. These thoughts consume me on a day-to-day basis because 1) I work in career services and am forced to think about job-related things at least twice a week and 2) it’s recruitment season. I scour our Career Services website at least once a day, if not more.

So really it’s a decision between comfort and risk. I can either take the easy way out and slide up the corporate ladder in Operations in a locally-based company, which I wouldn’t have minded doing 8 months ago, or I can take a risk for an unpaid position in a new city in an organization that shares my mission and cause. And these decisions are made in a time-sensitive context. “Today we’re younger than we’re ever gonna be” and if we keep hesitating and putting off big decisions, we might lose our chance. Even if I do end up working in corporate, one day I hope to be able to share the wealth with my fellow females and otherwise marginalized species members.

Today I made a spreadsheet with a bunch of different companies that I would love to work for because of their mission and some that are just great corporate supply chain opportunities. I need to weigh some pros and cons rather than just flip-flop in my mind.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this now. I only thought of writing something about this while sitting in my dreadful math class today.

I’ve started reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg and I’m really liking it so far. It’s already shaping my views on go-getting and risk-taking. Apparently, females are more risk-averse and even I can attest to that.  I will probably write a little reaction piece once I’m done.

It’s Friday the 13th. I walked under a ladder this week. Twice. On second thought maybe I should put off that risk taking for a while. ;)