Happy International Women’s Day! Last year we featured some of our prominent women in leadership to celebrate the #BeBoldForChange campaign. This year, we wanted to participate in the 2018 IWD campaign #PressForProgress by speaking to women at all levels of the company to learn about the women who have influenced them, and ask what advice they’d give to motivate and inspire others.
Two years ago, I joined Syracuse’s local roller derby league. Despite its rough connotation, roller derby is an incredibly progressive sport in which I’ve personally found an empowering community of women. The sport is somewhat of an oddity in the athletic world, played and overseen primarily by women. Mutual learning and celebrating others’ success are characteristic of my team and the sport in general. After each practice, my team circles up and we’re often challenged to each share something that either we personally accomplished that night, or recognize a teammate for something they did well. It’s a simple exercise but has helped me be more mindful of empowering other women in my life.
I try to apply these practices in my personal life, whether it’s by reminding my friends of their strengths or letting my sisters know how much I admire them as mothers and as women. In my professional life, I similarly strive to empower my coworkers by sharing my knowledge and experience, recognizing opportunities to learn from each person and celebrating shared and individual success.
My biggest influence is my mom. Emigrating from China to Syracuse, she started a successful business, while raising five children on her own. She is absolutely my biggest role model! I grew up working in my mother’s restaurant throughout grade school and college. As much as I complained about wanting a more “normal” childhood, I look back and I’m grateful for the skills and lessons I’ve gained by being part of the business. I learned about the reward of hard work, responsibility, and perseverance. This experience also provided me the courage and independence to be the first person in my immediate family to leave home for college. These traits have guided me throughout my life and has had a major impact on my career. It’s molded me into who I am today, and am so thankful it’s led me to Terakeet.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve grown up learning from remarkable women like my mother, who is the bravest woman — person — that I know. She did the usual things, like pinning my elementary poems up on the fridge, and also the extraordinary things, like raising three girls on her own. And for better or worse, she has always believed in me enough to support my less-than-practical dreams of writing poetry and making movies.
That path has led me to the good company of more incredible women, like my professor and mentor Jennifer Grotz, and my dear friend and colleague Meghan Collins. After I fell short of what would have been a small success, they both reminded me that “close but no cigar still counts for something.” And to other young women fighting in the mud of uncertainty, I’ll tell them what my mother told me: you are gifted in the eyes of the people who make up your world, and no matter how small it may be, that means something.
Growing up I’ve always loved music – listening to it, going to live shows, talking about it, etc. Any way I could consume music I did. Five years ago, I started a music blog and I’ve been able to take the skills and experience I learned from blogging and apply them to my work at Terakeet and vice versa. The website is run by an all-female team and we often feature women in the music industry. It’s so inspiring to hear their stories and learn about how they’ve succeeded in a male-dominated industry.
Something I’ve learned throughout my personal and professional life, and my biggest advice for women, is to know your worth. It sounds cliche, but self-confidence and passion will take you far in any aspect of your life. I’m very lucky to work in an office where women are encouraged to be leaders and excel at doing so. It’s great to see women from a variety of personal and professional backgrounds in leadership roles, being the decision-makers and creative minds behind a lot of Terakeet’s successes.
Since I could first put sentences together, I have had such a love for writing. I think it really stemmed from my mom being such a big reader. She encouraged me to read everything and soak it all in, which inspired me to write about anything and everything so I could be the one creating new worlds or providing information for others to enjoy. One goal I’ve had since about the fourth grade is to write and publish a book, whether fiction or nonfiction. I’ve always dreamed of going to a bookstore and seeing my book on the shelf. My role at Terakeet allows me to write and edit content on a variety of topics every day. My work helps me hone my craft to one day achieve my goal of writing a book, and also lets me live my dream of being a writer every single day.
My career so far has certainly not followed a linear progression, and my route into tech has been anything but traditional. In college, I double majored in Theater and Political Science, which didn’t exactly translate to a clear career path. Since then I have worked on two presidential campaigns, taught financial literacy to middle schoolers, organized Colorado’s largest statewide conference for educators, and become a software developer. I am so grateful to Terakeet for hiring me as a new developer fresh out of the Turing School of Software & Design, and for the trust the Engineering team has given me to start building out features from day one. I hope to be able to speak at a tech conference by the end of 2018 on one of the exciting technologies I get to use daily.
My advice to young women entering the workforce is to find a mentor, never settle, and embrace failure as a learning opportunity. Don’t be afraid to take risks, advocate for yourself, or even switch careers. Speaking from experience, where you end up might even surprise you.
I aspire to be a role model for the next generation of women by showing them that nothing is out of reach. For young women looking to advance in their career, I would say two things: one, make sure you get your work done and two, don’t be intimidated. It’s so easy for nice and polite women to listen and do their work, live in the shadows of someone else’s success. My mother, who co-owns our family business always taught me that hard work and an education will help you get far and that integrity is always a must. She always told me there is never a need to push someone down to get to the top and if you’re an honest worker for an honest company, you’re sure to go far in your career.
True empowerment has been the ability to be open and honest with understanding who I am. As many other things in life, this doesn’t happen overnight, but I have come across ways to drive the process. Acknowledging strengths, areas for improvement, and constantly challenging myself to new experiences have helped with this journey. What I’ve found is that there is no substitute for experience and one of the best things you can do for yourself is always be open to new ones in life. The positive work-life balance I have found at Terakeet has allowed me to work on these areas over the past two years. Last but not least, having a positive mindset in your day-to-day not only is good for you but the others around you finding their way.
Previously, I worked in the banking industry. The industry is primarily male-dominated and there were clear challenges for women to succeed, especially in high-level executive roles. At Terakeet, I’ve been given opportunities that I didn’t think existed. I’ve been able to get real hands-on experience in the world of human resources. I have two great mentors at Terakeet, both women who have been by my side since day one to help me succeed at the company. Our flexible work arrangement allows us to find a balance between work and home life, while still being able to effectively manage our careers. I encourage young women looking to advance in their career to show their eagerness to learn and establish clear goals. Be self-motivated and work hard every single day. A goal of mine is to get my SHRM-CP, and I hope to accomplish this within the next few years. While I’m still finding my voice here, I know that if I continue to learn every day I’ll find success in my career.