If you ask my younger self what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would’ve told you a singer. Fast forward to middle school when I finally realized that I was not blessed with the right vocals. From there, like everyone growing up in the 90’s, I watched MTV religiously. I mean who didn’t watch TRL back in the day, am I right?! Anyways, that’s when I was first introduced to my then idol: SuChin Pak. Seeing a Korean-American on television was rare back in the day. She not only exuded confidence on TRL and on the red carpets, but she spoke articulately, and with some sass. Something you rarely saw or heard coming from Asian Americans on television. If I ever saw any Asian on television back in the day, they always had to have an accent and pronounce words incorrectly. So yes, SuChin was someone I aspired to be one day.
The middle school I attended broadcasted morning announcements on the TV screens in each classroom, and I tried out multiple times and failed. Womp womp. Once I got to high school, I didn’t let go of this dream and worked harder to achieve it. And just like that I was the only freshman to join the morning announcements team- yes, I passed my audition on the first try. [Insert hair flip emoji here]. Just reading a pre-written script on paper or via a teleprompter wasn’t enough for this aspiring announcer. I immediately joined the journalism club and started writing for my school paper. I truly enjoyed interviewing people any chance I got. I’m generally a curious person and always ask hundreds of questions, so doing it for a purpose definitely hyped my interest in the field even more.
Once I got to college, I aspired to get into the competitive Broadcast Journalism program at my university, especially after hearing Giuliana Rancic was an alumna from this program. Like my previous dream, this one was shattered once I was required to take public speaking classes. I have no problems going up to strangers to interview them, or any issues talking in front of a camera-heck I used to get a thrill of doing this as soon as I was underneath the massive lights to film, but I draw the line at presenting in front of a crowd. In fact, I am TERRIFIED of public speaking to this day.
After giving up on my dream that I worked so hard to achieve, I was in a funk for what I wanted to do after college. I randomly decided to take a social media class and somehow felt like this was my new calling, especially because social media was slowly starting to grow. I quickly changed my major to focus on public relations, as this allowed me to continue my interest for interviewing and writing in different ways- think press releases, fact sheets- the works. My dilemma from here was which industry I wanted to go in: Corporate, agency, nonprofit, finance, etc. That is until I was TOUCHED by one of my professors who had a nonprofit organization on the side. During one of my classes, she shared how she helped burn survivors- a world I was unfamiliar in. I was sickened to hear that men in third world countries would throw hot chemicals at their wives to burn their faces so no other men would see their faces. And it saddened me to hear the stories of children who survived fires, but lived in pain and agony because their families had little to no money to help repair their skin or even provide aid for their relief. I wanted to help this nonprofit and cause in anyway possible. While my fellow classmates opted for paid or credited internships, I took an unpaid, non-credited internship to help my professor and her nonprofit organization. Heck, I even had to work an extra job just to pay for my metro rides. So yes, you guessed it, after college, I landed a job at a corporate office of a nonprofit located in the Washington, D.C. area.
I have to say, it’s not like I didn’t know that like most organizations, nonprofits need money to function as a place of business, but I was not comfortable to see how money was being spent. And I definitely didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t able to be more hands on with helping the cause of the organization. I was more behind the scenes. And that’s when it hit me. I don’t have to work at a nonprofit to volunteer and be hands on for a particular cause as I can do that outside of work hours. So I followed my other passion, fashion! As the D.M.V. is very limited in jobs that offer fashion related positions, I was shocked when I stumbled upon a job listing for a PR/social position for a jewelry brand. And where did I see this job listing? Twitter, of course! I have to be honest, I had no experience in jewelry. And the only experience I had in fashion was working for abercrombie, For Love 21 and American Eagle back in the day. And I honestly thought I was applying for a local job as in helping to promote one store of the jewelry brand. Somehow luck was on my side and I passed my interviews and ended up working for one of the biggest, international jewelry brands.
After I gained as much experience and knowledge as possible, I moved on to the agency world and turns out, it wasn’t for me. I desperately searched and searched to get back into the familiar world of jewelry. And my prayers we’re answered, I landed a job back in a familiar space. I guess my work experience definitely worked in my favor this time around.
I’m no expert, but I leave you with some advice:
If you’re entering college, it’s okay to not know what you want to do afterwards.
If you’re not happy in your current industry or current role, it’s NEVER too late to switch.
Network network network! And maintain those relationships. You NEVER know when you might need to connect with someone again in the future.
Do not lose hope and NEVER give up! (I can’t even count how many jobs I applied to and didn’t hear back from nor can I count how many interviews I failed.)
Photo by: Joe Conrad