Author: Sophia Zhang
For a Chinese female professional, studying and working in the United States is a challenging journey. Simply surviving in a foreign country, you have already accomplished a lot. Applaud for your accomplishment! However, I believe you come to this country, a free land full of opportunities, not just to survive, but to thrive. It is my pleasure to share the following 5 tips that will help you adapt to the new environment, develop personal strength, build a professional career, bridge US and Chinese culture, and pursue your happiness.
Adapting to a new culture
“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Adapting to the new culture never means to abandon one’s own heritage and tradition, nor indicates the foreign culture is superior. It is rather a balance between keeping your uniqueness and respecting others’ convention. It’s always beneficial to practice your cultural intelligence which will allow you to improve communication efficiency and effectively achieve common interests.
A good business practice in the U.S. is communications in a writing form. Presenting information in advance such as through email – gives people time to process the information, evaluate situations, and respond to you with proper consideration instead of pure instinct. After discussing details, remember to send an email that recaps the discussion, confirms critical items such as timeline and budget, and a follow-up plan. Written materials allow all parties to stay on the same page and a record to refer back when certain details fade in memories.
You are your own brand and networking is a powerful way to market yourself, spot potential opportunities and seek cooperation.
Don’t waste networking time and opportunities on mindless chitchatting. Prepare your elevator pitch and small talk topics, and efficiently find your mentor, get access to job opportunities, gain industry insight and connect with people who are capable to help you. Stay open-minded to seek for help and offer your help.
Stay true to things that make you tick
Find a world beyond the paycheck. Find your purpose, something that you are passionate about and makes you tick. This will make you more credible, authentic, and happy. Bring passion and energy into your job, your career, your day-to-day life. “The challenge for our generation is to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.” Keep looking for your purpose and help people around you find their purposes.
Engaging in activities outside your job
Create a personal professional portfolio. You have more to offer than just one job. Build personal skills in a broad way and be a “T” talent, where the vertical bar represents the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field, whereas the horizontal bar is the ability to collaborate across disciplines with experts in other areas and to apply knowledge in areas of expertise other than one's own. Be active in art, history, economy, technology, anything that is not directly related to your profession but contributes to your vision, culture and emotional intelligence, and personal interest. Your life needs a job, but a job is not your entire life.
Don’t imitate men, develop your inner beauty
You have your own beauty and strength like compassion, interpersonal skills, collaboration, resilience, and positive attitude as a female. Imitating men is an indeed waste of your own power. You can look pretty, fun, loving, and also be successful, just like Victoria Pendleton or Amal Clooney. Be confident and comfortable in your own skin. Love and take good care of yourself. Smart is the new sexy.