In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we're doing a four-part series highlighting the experiences and sentiments of some of our employees at Notarize. Check out our previous spotlights of Hannah Chai, HR Ops Manager and Kim Gaedeke, AVP, Head of Government Affairs & Community Engagement.
I started my career as a data analyst at a tech startup after graduation. Later, I worked as a developer/data engineer at a FinTech company where I worked on building data pipelines/infrastructure. Prior to joining Notarize, I was working as a data scientist at JLL, building machine learning models to forecast market trends, recommend different investment options and predict maintenance costs.
Growing up in my Taiwanese household (and like in many Asian households) I was told to become a doctor. I started as a biochemistry major in college but I didn’t have much interest in the core subjects I was studying, so I decided it was not something I wanted to pursue. I was lost for a while, but I ended up really liking computer science and math so I majored in statistics and was working on my computer science certificate. On a random day hanging out with a friend during lunch, he introduced me to data science. He told me it’s a growing field and what I am learning from school aligns with the typical requirements for a job in this field. I started looking into it and the tech industry in general and thought “this is what I want to do.”
While I enjoy working in tech and am glad I made the decision to switch from the career path of becoming a doctor, I’ve noticed that the tech industry seems to reward those who are more outspoken. I am not saying this is wrong or unfair, but it could put people of AAPI descent at a disadvantage. Although not all people of AAPI descent are quiet or introverted in nature, many of our cultural behaviors are rooted in being diligent with our work and not talking about our performance or achievements in school or career as it can come across as bragging. I think that kind of upbringing emphasizes focusing on putting in hard work and completing the work well instead of increasing visibility within an organization. I think this is one of the reasons that we don’t see many Asian/Asian Americans at the top of the corporate ladder.
AAPI Heritage Month is a time for us to celebrate our roots and be proud of our heritage. But as we take this month to honor our roots, I’d like to dispel what I believe to be a common misconception. Asia is a large continent with numerous countries, all with their own unique people and cultures. There’s not only one type of Asian, so it’s wrong to categorize us all into a single “race” with the same traditions and history.
For example, my specific heritage Taiwanese, emphasizes friendliness. If you ever met someone who has traveled to Taiwan, they will probably mention how friendly and willing to help the Taiwanese are. I think this has shaped me into who I am today, as I strive to be friendly and help wherever I can.
Chopsticks etiquette is a tradition we practice on a daily basis, and is a practice I continue to honor. Using chopsticks as our main eating utensil, there are a lot of rules to follow. For example, you should never stick your chopsticks upright into your rice because it will look like you are paying respect to the dead.
Another tradition that I cherish is having dinner together as a family. Besides the obvious importance of eating, it is also a chance for the family to get together. Growing up, regardless of how busy my parents were with work, they were never too busy to share a meal with me and ask about my day. I want to pass this tradition on and do the same for my kids.