Hmong Career Panel, Part 2

Uploaded by UMCareerInternSvcs on 18.01.2011


(female 2) I’m sorry I’m late.
(female interviewer) I was just going to say,
I want to make sure I have an opportunity to introduce our last panelist.
Do you want to just share your name and what you studied when
you were in school and a little bit about kind of the
career path you’ve had since graduation?
And then we’ll kind of go back into the conversation.
(female 2) Okay. Sorry.
My name is Tai Lo.
I graduated from the U of M in 2005 with a sociology major
and minor in business management.
And then after I graduated I worked at Target Corporation
in downtown Minneapolis for four years as a merchandise specialist.
So I worked a lot with the buyers and in that role we
were in charge of making sure that when you go to your
Target stores all of the items that you wanted were there on time.
So I was there for four years and I left in May and now I’m
actually at Greater Frogtown which is a non-profit and
doing work with small businesses on University Avenue,
and I’m helping them with some of their business management
and marketing strategies.
(interviewer) Welcome.
(female 2) Thank you.
(interviewer) I wanted to ask a follow-up question related
to the experience piece.
Would you all be willing to touch on the types of
experience that you gained as a student just generally?
And then how did you balance that with other
responsibilities; with academics and everything else
that you have going on?
Because I think that’s a common concern that we hear
from students is, there may be a lot of responsibilities
in addition to academics, and how do you fit that experience in?
Any tips or thoughts on that or what experiences you had?
(female 3) Well, okay, I’ll start.
I had a lot--I was really fortunate.
I had a lot of experiences as an undergraduate.
When I was starting my freshman year I actually researched.
I really like--in late July, August.
Because I knew I wanted a part-time job and so I had
already researched and got interviewed and got hired on
at the ophthalmology clinic as a visual tech there my
freshman year, so I was like, going to school and then
starting a part-time job.
I didn’t work very many hours, probably about ten hours a
week, because I wanted to just figure out,
you know, how I’m going to manage studying and going to
class and then working.
And then after like, I think the freshman year is always
the hardest, I think, because you really have to figure out
how you’re going to manage your time,
how much you’re going to spend doing this and that and so I
think freshman year was kind of like,
you know, we’ll see what happens kind of a deal.
And then after I figured out how I was going to manage my
time like, starting my sophomore year I started
working some more hours, working in different places;
I worked at the dentistry clinic as well and then I
started volunteering at different places and interning.
I started interning at Northwest Youth and Family
Services, working with at-risk youth.
I worked at Guild Incorporated,
well interned there as well, service assistant and then
starting junior year I had a full load.
I think junior year was probably my toughest year.
But it was the year that I had the best grades.
Like, I ended up getting almost straight As my junior
year because I was so busy.
Because I knew that-- because my style was you know,
when I knew that I only had a small amount of time to study,
like, I took that time to study.
I didn’t have a lot of free time.
So I knew that.
But the busier I was the more focused I’m going to be.
That was kind of how I was and that’s kind of how--that’s
why I got myself so busy because I needed to get experience.
So I did some research.
I was a research assistant at the dental clinic with
one of the fellows there.
He was doing his thesis or dissertation so I did that
for a little bit.
Worked at different, other non-profits because I knew I
was going to go into social work too,
eventually, so I wanted to work with families and youth.
And then I joined HMSA, was on the board as well.
That was--I know most of you,
and some of you are actually on the board too.
And yeah, so just worked a lot,
interned a lot, volunteered a lot and I think,
to me, I got a lot out of it and when I graduated I
actually got hired before I finished school.
And it was because I had that experience;
I know you were talking about that too.
Because in my major, part of our senior project is
creating a portfolio.
And so in my portfolio we had our resume,
our transcripts, our awards, you know,
what we worked or interned or volunteered and mine was like
a complete, like a big thick like portfolio and when I went
to my first interview I was like,
you know, I showed them what I did.
So not only did I verbally say it but it was visually there.
And then I got hired and I didn’t have a lot of in
between undergrad and my professional life but you
know, it really definitely paid off in the end and
it was really stressful.
I mean, it was stressful; I’m not going to lie.
[laughing] But, you know, I think I had a lot of fun
doing it too.
So you just have to be very purposeful in what you want
to do in your life.
Like be purposeful with where you want to intern,
where you want to volunteer; just don’t volunteer there
because you think you need those hours.
Like, this is a big city; it’s a good location to find those places.
So you know, really being purposeful with what kind of
skills you want to gain and research those opportunities
and they have Career Services here to help you with those opportunities.
So utilize that, utilize them.
Because they’re experts and it’s free so...
[laughing] Well you pay the student fees,
but you know.
That’s kind of my deal.
(interviewer) Okay, what about some of the others;
what kind of experiences did you have and how did you
juggle and squeeze those in?
(female 2) I think, like Zer said,
I’m kind of like her is that the busier you are the more
you use the time more wisely.
Because you know if you don’t have a job,
you just go to school, you’re like uh,
I’m gonna go with my friends, play some video games you
know, go out, hang out, and tomorrow I’ll do it.
Then that really impacts the quality of your work.
Because you keep pushing it back so I am kind of like Zer.
When I was a sophomore and junior I had three jobs;
three different part-time jobs.
I worked here at school and I had a YMCA internship that I
did and I worked at Best Buy Corporation as well and I went
to school full-time.
And all those experiences really enhanced my resume but
with that you really had to do a good job at managing your
time and I know being Hmong and also being a Hmong woman
living at home, you have some responsibility with family and
luckily my parents were more understanding than other
parents were so they knew that I had school to take care of
and everything but aside from that they still expect me to
be home at a certain time and you know,
do chores, and help cook for the family.
So I did all of that.
I think growing up as a Hmong daughter because you have
those responsibilities, especially my family,
I think it made me more responsible and from a very
young age, even high school, I worked through my high school
years and you learn how to manage your time.
So going back to your question is if you want to have
internships and work and go to school full-time and have time
for HMSA or other things, activities,
you really have to manage your time wisely and that goes
beyond school even because you know,
in professional life, you have a full-time job or there’s
other things you want to do on the side and if you want to be
successful at that you really have to learn how to manage
your time wisely.
And if you don’t know how, I know the U has a lot of
resources, classes available, and oh,
you might know a friend of yours who is involved in
everything, you know, how do you do that?
Maybe talk to that person and really learn those skills from
them and have you shadow them and mentor you how
to manage your time wisely.
Because that’s what I did.
For me, luckily, I started young in high school so in
college I was able to manage all that but if you--
if that’s not something you’re used to, it’s going
to be hard to really try to manage your time wisely
and try to do well in school and doing all the other things.
So that would be my advice.
Get in touch with U of M services and I know there’s a
couple classes because one I used to go to in undergraduate
here, there was a class that talked about time management,
so that helped a lot.
But also pay attention to who you know and sit down with
them and just talk with them and have them mentor you
because that’s going to help you throughout your
professional life as well.
(female 1) As for me, like, I think think I did tons of like odd
jobs my undergraduate here.
And I’ll be completely honest with you.
I always found time like, during my day,
to like take a nap, you know, to just kind of relax and to socialize.
But you know definitely like, yeah, like--
and I am not a morning person so definitely like,
I was able to schedule my classes like,
you know, like later in the day.
You know, and I was totally fine with having night classes
so I would like, working during the day and have
classes at night.
Like, that wasn’t a big deal for me.
And so you know, I think that really helped because it kind
of opened my days for my internships and my part-time
job and like, volunteering.
And you know, like, being in student groups and stuff and
like meeting with my class team,
my classmates and stuff like that.
So it was like, that’s how I balanced myself and you know,
I’m a total night owl so I would like sleep in later.
But I never like, you know, like I always found time to study.
Like, even if it’s really late,
I knew I had to get it done and I would study.
And you know, if I had like, an hour between classes or
work, you know, like that’s when I’d study and stuff.
But really like, you just--I found really good positions
where I could sit at work and do my homework and that was
kind of the big thing too is like I was a peer mentor
my sophomore year.
I worked with freshman college students and while like,
I’m just like in the office and working with them,
I’m also doing my homework, looking for other internships
and other volunteering.
And what else?
You know, like during the day and I know like during the
weekdays it always gets really hectic and I volunteered
on the weekends.
And you know, I don’t drive so like I rely on public
transportation and you know, like,
a 15 minute drive on the bus is like an hour and 30 minutes.
So you know, like--and that was fine with me so I never
tried to volunteer during the weekdays because I was so busy
so you know, I pushed volunteering on the weekends
and I just sacrificed like five hours of my weekend
to volunteer and to get that experience;
to fit into my current lifestyle and stuff like that.
(male) I think in retrospect too the Hmong women,
it was really hard for me to transition from high school to college.
My oldest brother, he was just working so he never had his
weekends off and the middle son went off to get his
master’s degree in a different state so I was the only son
left in my household and I was sort of torn.
Half my family were Christians,
half my family were Shaman, so every weekend I’d have to go
and help this side of the family out or help this side
of the family out which was really difficult because
you’re trying to fit in your academics and at the same time
you’re trying to gain the respect of your family and
it’s really really difficult.
So one year I just had to give it all up;
all weekends, I’m saying, I have to focus on my school.
If I didn’t I would have just dropped out.
My first year, I was here in the fall,
my grandfather passed away so it was a really hard time for
me to try to just even adjust you know,
as a freshman.
And they expect you to be there to you know,
help with the sacrifices or whatever.
And it was one of the toughest times of my life;
just trying to transition my first year.
But learning how to manage that and understanding that
you really have to focus on yourself too,
not really what other people want you to do,
that’s like, you’re building the foundation for yourself.
So save some time, definitely, save some time for yourself no
matter where you are in your life.
Whether it be wanting to socialize a little bit or just
being able to be a part of an organization like HMSA,
I was able to really gain a lot of friendship,
gain a lot of connections through HMSA.
The older generation of HMSA, they’re already graduates and
even like the younger generation of HMSA or just
individuals that you meet on campus.
You’re learning a lot from them and they’re learning a
lot from you so it’s that give and take.
So, save some time for yourself.
It’s very very imperative.