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!

That Entrepreneurial Swag

As regular readers of my blog would be familiar with, one of my life aspirations is to start my own non-profit before I turn 25 (I turn 22 this year). No one needs to tell me twice that that’s a tough road to follow, but with a lot of hard work, dedication, sacrifices, and risks, I think it can be done. And I think I’ve found an outlet to get my idea to more people and people who could invest.

I’m entering UD’s Hen Hatch Start Up Competition! It’s usually entered by people who have an idea for a money-making product or service but I emailed the program director asking if I could enter a non-profit idea so hopefully I’ll find out Monday (today, I guess) if it’s eligible to enter.

Nevertheless, having a short-term goal has really motivated me to actually start writing down my business model and working out the details like what services I want to offer and how I will fundraise. Even if I’m not allowed to enter because I’m not selling a product, I will still have a skeleton for the business plan that I plan to finish by the end of 2014. This weekend I started working on a preliminary business plan and did quite a bit of research in order to sell this idea. The hardest part of starting any sort of business is figuring out your target market and if there is demand for your offer. I think the tough part for me will be to show that certain problems exist in society and that my organization will help solve them.

So at this point I have a week to crank out at least 2 more pages of my business concept to enter. If I make it past the written concept round, I get to present to venture capitalists and possibly get the financing needed to get this project off the ground. What would be stellar is that actually happening and materializing into a legit organization before I graduate next year. That would answer a lot of my questions about the future.

2014 is going to be my year. I have a good feeling about this.

Thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In”

A couple weeks ago I finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. Although some have found reasons to critique her “advice” I was thoroughly inspired by her words.

The first time I heard of Sandberg was on a post by Mr. Kate a couple years ago when she gave a few talks and some videos went viral. For those of you who don’t know, Mr. Kate aka Kate Albrecht is my female-fashion-diy-blogger-entreprenuer role model. So when I read about Sandberg and her book on Mr. Kate I trusted my sources and was intrigued by what I found out about her. Lean In was soon on my “to read” list as college slowly revealed the burgeoning feminist inside of me. I picked up the book this semester along with a couple textbooks to take advantage of Amazon’s Super Saver Shipping (which by the way $10 increase in minimum purchase?!?) and finished it just when my Women in Society class starting our discussion on women in the workplace and women leadership. Can I get a what-what for perfect timing?

Lean In spoke to me on a personal level because for a long time I have felt like I was the only girl/female/young woman/college student who has ever thought about and considered these things that Sandberg addresses. Now I can see that a lot of women out there agree with me that what Sandberg has experienced we have all experienced or will experience later on in life. But at the same time, there are women out there who cannot relate to her at all, be it for personal life goal differences, socio-economic differences, or education level differences. And they completely shut down her opinions because of it!

What I found striking was the number of people who in my class, professor included, felt somewhat negatively by Sandberg’s advice. They felt pressured, stressed out, and turned off by the idea of “leaning in.” What is the reason for this?

I hypothesize that the real root of the problem is one that Sandberg head on addresses in her book right in the first chapter: the leadership ambition gap. I think those that don’t “get it” are those who fall in that gap. Why is it that women tend to want to stay at home and take care of their children instead of following their ambitions? Sandberg writes about many of those potential reasons but I think it’s a deeper cultural and psychological conditioning.

From day one of birth, girls are exposed to a culture that expects them to become caregivers and to hold back on their aspirations. Our culture even make’s children’s fantasies extremely polarized by gender. Girls want to grow up to be princesses. Boys want to be superheroes. Girls want to grow up to wear fancy dresses and be taken care of. Boys want to grow up to fight the bad guys and save the world, and they don’t mind getting their hands dirty along the way. Take a moment to think about how wrong that is. Why don’t more girls want to save the world?

Sandberg likes to use statistics. The statistics do what they do. They’re numbers. But what they aren’t telling us is that women may have less ambition to achieve more because they were never told that it was possible. They do not realize their full potential. And without that confidence they are not willing to take those risks and would prefer the security of knowing that their family will be taken care of by settling for less. All of these factors start snowballing into the gender distribution in the workplace and at home that we have now. Not to mention structural barriers and sexism and all that jazz.

It takes a certain person to really get into Lean In. If you are the ambitious type who is kind of already a natural-born leader go for it! However, if you aren’t so much, read it with an open mind. It may not completely appeal to you but there are some key takeaways.

A couple of weeks ago, when I was preparing for internship interviews I was going through a list of potential questions I might be asked in a behavioral interview. One question was, “If you could do one thing with your life what would it be?” The answer came somewhat instantly. If I could do one thing with my life, it would be to inspire young women to go above and beyond. I think the best part of that goal is that it can be done no matter where I end up working or what I end up doing because I know that I will go at it 150% to prove that my gender does not make a difference in how I can contribute to a company and become a role model not only for women but for men as well. I don’t know about you, but I kind of want to “lean in” and save the world.