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.

Halfway There

Today I had my last classes of Sophomore year. It is completely mind-blowing how fast college goes. It’s so cliche, but people don’t lie when they tell you to enjoy every minute of it. I’ve been having a rough last few weeks and I keep saying that I can’t wait until the semester is over because of how horrible and stressful things can get, but looking back, it’s been a great year!

Last August I made myself an Sophomore year a to-do list. Let’s see how well I did.

  1. Step out of my comfort zone. This goal has been fulfilled in so many ways. I’ve done a lot of networking this year, especially this past semester. I attended ECAASU, went to several career fairs, joined clubs with many networking opportunities, and just made a lot of new friends this semester within my major and minors. Socially, I have definitely worked hard at stepping out of my comfort zone. And guess what? It gets a little uncomfortable. Now that I’m not afraid to attend networking events, I need to work on going up to people and talking to them. I talked to a woman who did a talk here at UD and I found out that she can connect me with an organization that does exactly what I want to do. The little things add up. I’ve also academically stepped out my my comfort zone, taking courses in disciplines that I have never taken before, and doing well in them. It’s eye-opening how much you can do once you put yourself in a position to do these previously unimaginable things.
  2. Get out there. Definitely. Shall I list all the officer positions I now hold? I’m on the executive board of a total of 4 clubs, including business and culture clubs. I’m on the flute staff for the next marching band season as well. I just need to flesh out my reach to service and community service. It’s really odd that I don’t regularly volunteer while wanting to work in the non-profit sector.
  3. Stay healthy. I’m not really sure how this one went. My diet has not had a spectacular track record this semester, however I have started weight lifting in the gym twice a week. (I skipped today because I had to study for an exam…) Let me just tell you that there is nothing more intimidating than huge muscular guys lifting 200 pounds to a petite Asian girl in the weight room. But I’m determined. I will become not only mentally strong, but physically.
  4. Work hard, party… a little. To keep it short and simple, yes, this goal can be checked off. ;) Don’t worry, I didn’t go too crazy. But to be honest, I prefer the quiet lifestyle.
  5. Be efficient. My no all-nighter record is still going strong. So time-wise, I guess so. I really tried to clean out my wardrobe and utterly failed. I like my thrifty finds too much.
  6. Dress for success. This one gets problematic on those bad days. I think I’m getting closer to finding my “personal style” though. It’s a hectic, schizophrenic journey but Im getting there. I also recently bought a lot of new business casual-type clothes for my internship this summer. I’m hoping to integrate some of those pieces into my everyday wear.
  7. Maintain my Etsy shop. This one’s gonna have to be a no. I think I’m finally giving up on Etsy. Commission from friends and family are always welcome, though. As much as I love knitting, when something becomes your “job” you tend to like it less. It’s proven by management theories that I learned in class as well. Right now, I want to focus on finding that dream job that I’m imagining and working towards it.
  8. Get paid. You are looking at UD’s Lerner College Career Services new Student Assistant. In time I will soon be a resume master. I mean, I’m pretty close. Just look at this bangin’ resume. I am so glad that I can count on having this position until I graduate, as long as I don’t screw anything up. It’s part-time and it’s almost minimum wage but it’s money.
  9. Study abroad. This can officially be checked off May 31st once I land in Hong Kong! Check out my study abroad blog for more on it.

 

I completed almost everything on my list. And I’m alive and have a GPA I’m proud of. And I have a nice start for new goals for the next year.

This school year has been so enlightening for me. I think I am finally figuring out what I want to do after college. I am finding causes and careers that I am passionate about. I am learning things about myself, what I’m good at and what I need to work on. I’m going to do my best to make the most of these last two years!