I want to take this opportunity to share my stories about how I found my mission in education and live my calling.
I graduated from college in 1999. Though my college major was in economics, I chose to work for a Swedish company as a travel consultant, because I thought I was better at dealing with people than dealing with numbers. After several years of hard work, I became the key account manager in charge of the customer relationship at Amex Travel, a branch office of American Express in Shanghai. During those 8 years, I learned a lot about customer service and interpersonal communication.
My reputation as an effective communicator and customer service specialist led to an invitation from Philips in 2007, one of my key accounts, to compete for its North Asia Travel Manager position. After many rounds of interviews, I finally received the offer and became responsible for the travel commodity procurement as well as the stakeholders’ relationship management. I felt so lucky to work with such a fortune 500 company because there were many opportunities for me to grow. During the 5 years working at Philips, I traveled to many countries where I could see different cultures and shape my view of multicultural practice. Also, Phillips gave me a lot of staff training and project tasks through which I successfully developed my skillsets, such as negotiation, analytical, and leadership skills.
When everything was going smoothly, and I was climbing my career ladder, I found myself not designed for the corporate environment, which was too complex and effort-consuming to manage. Therefore, when I was 35 years old, I made a big decision. In 2011, I quit my job and went to Chile with my family.
Having worked for various industries like travel, government, and production for 12 years, I know that I should not stop myself from looking for a career that I am really passionate about. In 2014, I decided to return to school to pursue a higher degree in Education. I understood that education was not the area in which I had ever officially taken a role. But since my sophomore year of college, I have not given up providing tutoring to high school students. I discovered my love for teaching, especially love the feeling when I could persuade my students to change their attitude toward learning. Once I recognized that I was called for education, I know I need to overcome the obstacles to live the calling.
Indeed, the Mid-career change wasn’t easy for me. On one hand, I needed to increase my ability to multi-tasking because I had to look after three kids when I was studying. On another hand, I had to get used to American higher education, which was quite different than what I had experienced in China and required a lot of effort in research and writing. In order to achieve my goal, I have to work even harder than my classmates. However, it is the best decision I have ever made so far because it leads me to find my purpose and value as a meaningful person.
Now, I feel quite fulfilled when I could use the student development knowledge to help my students grow and share life experiences about making choices to help them define their goals and design plans. Most importantly, as a certified college counselor and career facilitator, I can assist my students to identify their best interests and inspire them to become independent thinkers who might choose to pursue a truly potential academic and career path that is beyond their expectations.
I like the jobs I am doing right now. I feel happy when I can help others and gain their respect. But in order to be more successful in this counseling journey, I cannot stop learning. Strongly, I believe that life is all about preparation and making wise decisions. Only the lifelong learner can be exceptional to live the purpose.
I wish all of you the best of luck in defining your life purpose and mission!