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…

Throwback GirlMeetsYarn and Playing Sociologist

My dad found this old publication by the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations at Georgia from 1995 where I am a child model.

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Initially I just wanted to post the cover to share with my friends through social media because who can resist adorable toddler me? It was laying on the kitchen table and I was flipping through the pages, most of which I can’t read because it is written in Vietnamese, when I got started with my usual historic, gendered, and racialized analysis.

Firstly, I noted how different VSAs (Vietnamese Student Associations) or any sort of Asian student organization has changed in 20 years. Twenty years ago, Vietnamese college students were immigrants, some with refugee status. Nowadays, we’re mostly made up of 2nd or 3rd generation immigrant children. The majority of Asian students can identify as American or Asian/Vietnamese/Chinese/Korean/etc. American rather than as a citizen of the country where their parents are from. And this means than instead of focusing on banding together to preserve cultural traditions in a strange and new environment in the US, Asian American students today are actively creating their own Asian American culture which combines identity with pop culture and creating a space on their campuses where their differences are embraced and accepted by all cultures.

Then, I found these two pages, written in English that consisted of students’ responses to a somewhat lighthearted survey. The results are evidence that in 20 years, we still have not made much progress in terms of racial and gender equality.

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IMG_7903I think the entire article is informative and funny, in a crude way, but here are some highlights on some parts I found significant:

Would you marry someone different than your own race?

Yes, excluding whites, blacks, orientals, and native Americans.

I can’t tell if this is sarcastic because it excludes nearly everybody except Latin@s (which is the most obvious segment of the population and of course anyone else who identifies outside of these categories) but if it was answered by a Vietnamese student, which is what I assumed, they also mention orientals which is kind of derogatory and maybe only refers to East Asians as opposed to Southeast Asians. I’m just confused by this one.

Definitely not in this lifetime.

Yeah, that’s problematic. Coming from a family that has become increasingly interracial as time goes on, I’d like to believe that we are on our way out of this kind of thinking but with those Cheerios ads from a couple months back, who knows?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being Vietnamese?

There is this stupid stereotype that all Asians are really smart and know some type of martial arts. I don’t like it when people are prejudiced against me.

Prejudice still lives.

I hear ya buddy, prejudice still lives 20 years later. Especially on the playground. It’s horrible that at such a young age, children are conditioned into believing people of a certain race or color should act or behave a certain way. It’s truly detrimental to individual self-esteem and interactions and society at large.

And by the way, it has come to my attention that my knowledge of the Model Minority Stereotype term is not widespread, even among Asian Americans. That is basically the belief that Asians are the hardworking, smart, achieving minority, which is used to contrast against blacks and Latin@s. One must come to an understanding that certain groups where systematically and institutionally discriminated against to the point that they are unable to make economic gains as a whole (yes, individuals do “make it” but as a group, no). On the other hand, the Model Minority Stereotype erases the stories of certain populations of Asian Americans who live in poverty and cannot afford education.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a female?

No disadvantages except having to go through labor pains.

Okay, this girl has no idea or is comfortable with what women do not have access to in relation to men. Gender wage gap, sexual assault statistics, gendered violence, legal rights to what happens to your own body, online and offline harassment, body image expectations, political underrepresentation, I could go on…

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a male?

I have no idea, I think being a female is better.

Oh really? Try it out for a day.

Strong and tough.

This is a problematic definition of masculinity. Just because someone is a man does not mean they are physically strong or aggressively tough. It perpetuates an expectation that is forcibly acted out under the pressure to “be a man” and in some ways is dangerous to women. (See above.)

What do you think about the opposite sex of your own kind?

Wait, what does “of your own kind” mean?

I think they will make excellent wives.

Perpetuating traditional gender expectations, I see.

Can’t live with them. Can’t shoot them.

OKAY THIS IS NOT FREAKING OKAY. Violence against women is NOT FUNNY.

They are so sweet and faithful.

On the other hand, there’s men who hold women on a pedestal like this guy and that is also not right. Women can be as or more bitter and unfaithful as men can be.

And lastly, to end this on a lighter note.

What is the best way to tell someone you love him/her?

Grab the butt.

This guy was weird Tumblr before weird Tumblr was cool.

The Ups and Downs of Radical Thought

Being awakened to the injustices of the world is a burden, but it is one that you can never give up once your eyes are open, no matter how hard you want to when you are faced by rejection, dismissal, and straight up hate.

This week has been full of both highs and lows for my psyche. I have gone from blissful optimism to the point of nearly breaking because the deadly combination of my passion and social media can go from being my best friend to my worst enemy with the click of a button.

After making a successful connection with someone who I believe will be able to help me on my journey to achieving some of my life goals, I became charged with energy and my hunger for change only grew stronger, causing me to “angrily” call out anything I found problematic. Unfortunately, when a person calls out a problem, they become the problem, and things can get messy. I understand that it is difficult to decipher a person’s tone through text, especially abbreviated Internet communication, but if anything I ever posted online seemed “angry” that completely underestimates the range of my emotions. I may have a thick skin, but it only goes so far. Eventually the wound hurts. In the end, I am thankful for the friends I can count on to support me through these points and reassure me that I have a right to my own voice, opinions, and feelings. Following the examples of some of my activist role models, instead of retaliate, I ignored and took a break. I have gone almost two days without reading my Facebook and Twitter feeds, only occasionally checking for anyone trying to contact me for something important. I hope to keep it up for the time being because I am starting to be dependent on the instant gratification I get from knee-jerk reactions and I am beginning to be consumed in my online activism instead of focusing on my schoolwork.

But just as I was starting to become discouraged and wanting to give up (even though it is now impossible for me to go through my day without pointing out at least one gender, racial, or culturally insensitive thing) I was so fortunate to be able to attend a Black history month event at my university featuring the legendary entertainer and activist, Harry Belafonte. His messages to fight for justice, think radically, and never give up in the face of fear and rejection has recharged me to continue doing what I do. Because if it’s not me questioning the system, who else would it be? I’ve written and said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m looking for leaders within my own peers and I’m not seeing any that I like, so I have to be my own leader. But that also brings up the point that others should not look to me for all the answers. Just as they are trying to figure out how to solve society’s problems, so am I. Despite my lack of formal academic learning in these areas, I strive to build off of what others have built in the past, adapting to the technology and culture of our times and being open to new ideas and perspectives (emphasis on the new). So even if I may seem too “out there” at first, if others join my cause, together we can start a movement.

Something I also want to mention is that most of the time my criticisms are not about individuals, but about the system as a whole and how we, as individuals, are complicit. I don’t mean to hurt any feelings or make people feel bad about themselves or their privilege. As Harry Belafonte said to our university community last night: “I only seek to provoke.”

APICS MADness

And by MAD I mean Mid-Atlantic District.

This past weekend me and four other students from the University of Delaware road-tripped it up to Pittsburgh, PA to compete in the APICS Mid-Atlantic Case Competition. It was my first time going and being thrown into what appeared to be an already well-oiled machine of team members. The experience was stress-inducing and mentally exhaustive, but I definitely learning something new about what it means to work in supply chain and under pressure.

For those of you unfamiliar with what a case competition is, a case competition entails reading about a company, finding a problem in how they work, and finding and presenting a solution to their problem. Just like the real business world, we were challenged with working in a team, meeting a deadline, writing and presenting a plan, and persuading others that our solution would work.

Going into it, I knew I had big shoes to fill, as our school’s team had previously won at this level and gone on to place internationally. Unfortunately, we did not score well enough with the judges this time, but I nonetheless took away from the experience.

I realized that I actually know more about supply chain and logistics than I thought I did. Reading the paper I recognized all sorts of buzzwords and considered all the factors that went into making an important business decision. I found out the importance of questioning the ideas of your colleagues for feasibility. Just because someone is older or more experienced than you does not necessarily mean that their ideas are the best. Teamwork is a collaborative effort. I learned how important it is to leverage each team member’s unique strengths and how great diversity is on a team. And lastly, I confirmed my need to work on my presentation skills. It is such a critical skill to have and I have definitely gotten way better at it over the years, from not ever wanting to speak in front of people to willingly volunteering my opinion in less formal settings, but when I’m faced with a huge audience and immense pressure, my brain just dies and something goes wrong.

So next year when I return to the competition, I will have all of this in mind. I’m looking forward to becoming more involved in solving real world problems as I move along in my college career.

And in writing this up I’m procrastinating all the work I got behind in this weekend and all the work I need to get ahead in for the upcoming few weeks. Oh, and that start up competition I entered a month ago unfortunately did not make the next round but I’m in the middle of exploring a couple of different options to move that project along. Happy Thursday!