There’s a stereotype of Asian women being quiet, studious and reserved. I probably fit the stereotype as far as working really hard and being prepared are concerned; but I definitely speak up and am willing to challenge convention.
Growing up in the Philippines and starting out here as a foreign student have given me a somewhat unique perspective. I am a little bit more sensitive to cultural differences and nuances of language—an awareness that I believe is useful in our diverse society, as well as in a global business environment. I value people who are resilient, flexible and open to new ideas and experiences. I also think it’s very important to be involved in and committed to whatever you do. Often in life and at work, you have to be able to jump in and learn about new things and not be afraid because you’re in unfamiliar territory.
My group works very collaboratively, operating on the premise that people speak up and their views will be heard and respected. I am proud of my group because we work really hard and do a good job, but we also can celebrate our successes and laugh together. This is really important given the challenges of legal work, where you have to get every single detail right. Being able to laugh helps take the pressure off!
It’s also critical to develop relationships in which you can learn about an organization or a situation both formally and informally. Throughout my career, I’ve learned lots of little bits from lots of people, not just one person. My advice would be to have as many different role models as possible so you can take from them whatever characteristics suit your values and personality.
I really appreciate the value of a liberal arts education because it helps develop thinking and writing, skills that are useful no matter where you end up. It’s a mistake to think that you have to know what you want to do with your life and your career from the very beginning. I admire people who’ve been focused and have known what they wanted to do from early on; but if you’re not like that, enjoy the journey. Look for ways in which you can figure out what your passions are and how to pursue them. Create your opportunities.