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Going Abroad: A Lesson on Growth with Tina Chen

2020 has finally come to a close--what a year it's been! While there is no such thing as a clean break from everything that happened in 2020, we can still look forward to 2021 with stronger minds. Having a strong mindset is about learning what it means to truly express yourself in a world that continues to change without warning. Opportunities to grow and establish your identity are everywhere--from close-by to even abroad!

Through our talks with Tina Chen, a head of strategic sourcing at SWAROVSKI and a UW alumni, we learned what it means to grow into your own identity. In her experiences working abroad, Tina Chen explains how the growing pains of a new environment and the growing passions of her own identity shape who she is today. Here is her advice on what it means to work abroad:

1: Be Curious

While majors are extremely important, don’t let your major restrict you from exploring new things!

  • Try to interview in different areas of work and see what works best for you, don't confine yourself in fields strictly related to your college major

Having mentors/coaches (whether from work, internships, or school) and learning from them is helpful in shaping your own mindset

  • Discover what other people are passionate about and what drives them to do their best to get a better idea of what you want out of your own work

Find out which activities energize you and which ones leave you drained

  • No matter what job, hard work can always lead to tiredness. Emotional and physical sustainability must be prioritized above all else, so find what you can do most sustainably

2: Be Vulnerable

For Tina, working in China was a huge culture shock because of how different the work life was. She noted that China has a more competitive work culture that is not as collaborative as the culture she was used to in America

  • That said, Tina notes that it is important to be who you are despite what is around you

  • While learning to adapt to new cultures, it is important to hold to your own values and not lose yourself in your work

Vulnerability and transparency is about taking care of yourself as you work in new environments

  • Knowing your weaknesses is just as good as knowing your strengths

  • Valuing your emotional health is also as equally important as your intellectual strengths

3: Be Truthful to Yourself

At the end of the day, your life is your own. The value and purpose of your work cannot be defined by the approval of others or any physical achievements. When working towards finding yourself, you need to define what it means to be working with purpose.

For Tina, meaningful work is at the point where your skills, passions, and values align with each other.

Jobs are not the end or the definition of your purpose, they are only the stepping stones to find out who you are and what you enjoy

  • Jobs are opportunities to help you develop who you are and what you want to become

Wherever you go and whatever opportunity you take, remember to pause and remind yourself of your own value and the importance of your own identity. As Tina says:

“When you remember that you are always playing the infinite game of becoming more and more yourself and expressing the amazingness of you into the world, you can’t fail.”

Couldn’t make our Trip Around Asia Event? View Tina’s full slides presentation here.

Despite all the anxieties and hardships from the past year, we continue to grow and understand ourselves. Here is to 2021; a year where we can heal from the past and push towards the future. Stay warm, safe, and healthy (and we hope to see you soon)!

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