How Emily Chan Discovered That Human Resources Management & Entrepreneurship Was The One

Emily Chan has recently graduated Magna Cum Laude from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources Management and Entrepreneurship. Four years ago if you had told her this, she would’ve thought that you were crazy! Growing up, Emily had always wanted to be a doctor and her parents have always wanted her to be a doctor. It was the only career path she really knew that she was certain about so for the first two years of college, Emily was taking pre-medical classes like Chemistry, Biology, Physics, etc. and all of her extracurricular activities were focused around this field. Emily volunteered at Saint Peter’s University Hospital near her campus, she worked part time at an ophthalmology office, she performed research at a campus lab through the Aresty Research program, and she was involved with various on-campus medical organizations like the American Medical Student Association.

Despite immersing herself fully in this career path that she always thought she wanted, she was incredibly unhappy, stressed, and unfulfilled. Emily started questioning herself whether or not she was making the right decision and whether medicine was truly what she wanted to pursue for the rest of her life. These feelings intensified throughout sophomore year and it was a period of uncertainty and fear, but also growth.

Emily felt an overwhelming urge to explore other areas of study, but she had no clue where to start! There was so much pressure to find her “passion” and being that she has already spent two years taking classes that she no longer needed anymore, she felt even more pressured to quickly discover something that she liked. Therefore, she began reaching out to her advisor as well as her network of older friends and classmates to seek for advice. Talking through her strengths and weaknesses, as well as her likes and dislikes has really narrowed down the list for her. Emily came to the realization that she wanted to be in a position that is focused around people and that was how she landed her career in Human Resources Management!

Emily began enrolling in introductory HR classes and she received an internship outside of school to supplement her knowledge. She wanted to gain a 360 experience of in-class knowledge as well as real world experiences to see if HR was what she really wanted to pursue. Obviously, Emily ended up sticking with it and she can gladly say it was one of the best decisions that she has made in college!

Right out of graduation, Emily was offered a full-time opportunity with Microsoft as a Talent Sourcer for Engineering and Operations and she has recently launched a passion project called CEO Mindsets that is focused on providing digestible and actionable career advice. She can definitely say that she has come a long way since she first started college and she is really excited to see how her career will grow in the future! Connect with Emily on LinkedIn if you are seeking for career advice!

• What role has your education at Rutgers University and your colleagues/mentors/family/friends played in your career path?

Both my personal and professional network have been an immense help in getting me to where I am today. When I first started thinking about switching career paths, I didn’t even have a resume or know how to properly write one! I asked so many different people for help to write and review my resume and to this day, I still use all of the advice I received when I’m editing my own resume or reviewing other people’s resumes. Something I’ve realized is that most people are more than willing to help if you just ask. I’m so grateful for all the help and support I’ve received throughout these last couple of years from both my personal and professional network.

• How has your HR internships prepared you for your role as a Talent Sourcer for Engineering and Operations at Microsoft?

Through my various internship experiences, I’ve gotten a behind the scenes look at how different recruiting processes can be at different companies. Not one company is perfect, but each one has their strengths. I can take the strengths that I’ve picked up from each company and bring them all to my work as a Talent Sourcer at Microsoft. My various HR internships have also taught me to be confident in the workplace and understand that I can bring value to the table despite my young age. 

• What are you hoping to accomplish and contribute during your time at Microsoft?

During my time at Microsoft, I am hoping to add to the diversity at the company through recruiting. It already seems like a company that values diversity and I want to supplement that. Diversity is so important in and out of the workplace and I want to create an environment where people feel comfortable being their authentic selves. I also want to create a group at Microsoft that focuses on community service through crafting, which are two of my biggest passions. All throughout college, I was part of a school organization called Craft to Cure that creates functional crafts like hand warmers, dog toys, etc. to donate to local charities and it would be amazing to find a community passionate about crafting and community service at Microsoft!

• What are your long-term goals at the moment?

My first long term goal is to become a full-time entrepreneur. After my internships, I’ve realized that I really didn’t like being confined to a 9-5 job. I definitely learned a lot while working in corporate jobs and I really appreciate the network I’ve built as well as establishing a routine. However, the ultimate vision for me is to be my own boss. I enjoy the autonomy of it and I can really pursue anything I can dream of! One idea that has been in the back of my mind is opening my own coffee shop that features Asian flavors as a tribute to my culture. I really enjoy coffee and have an Instagram page dedicated to it – @ssmolbeans.

My second long term goal is to be more financially literate. Money has always been a sensitive topic for me. I’ve noticed that a lot of women shy away from this topic. My goal is to learn more about personal finance, how to invest, and how to build and maintain wealth. I recently started following personal finance Instagrammers and Youtubers and have learned so much so far, but I still have a long way to go! I’m excited to start on this journey of being more transparent about money and having a healthier relationship with money overall.

• Congratulations on launching your business venture, CEO Mindsets! Could you tell us more about what drove you and your friend to start this? What is the purpose/goal of this business?

One of my biggest inspirations to start CEO Mindsets is @girlmeetswealth on Instagram. This is a personal finance page run by someone I knew from high school and she posts tons of awesome tips that have helped me start my personal finance journey. I’ve always loved content creation and posting on my personal Instagram and after following @girlmeetswealth for a couple months, I was inspired to do something similar but for my area of expertise: job searching. I was also inspired by a post I saw on LinkedIn that listed some really great companies that were founded during a recession and I thought to myself, “Now is as good of a time as ever. If other people can do it, I can do it too.” So I told my friend how I wanted to do this and she wanted to join in and the rest is history!

The goal of CEO Mindsets is to provide digestible and actionable tips about careers, job searching, networking, professional development, etc. A lot of students don’t know where to start when it comes to any of this or feel extremely overwhelmed. I was definitely in a similar situation when I was in school and did a lot of soul searching to find what works for me. We want to help students and graduates bridge the gap between their passions and careers!

• You have experienced the same path as many other students, where you were certain that you would become who you thought you would be as an undergrad – however things took off in a different direction. What would you tell those group of individuals?

Take your time and don’t worry about having things figured out. Everyone moves at a different pace through life and there is no need to feel rushed because other people already know what they want to do. You have your story and they have theirs. Take it day by day and trust that everything will work out!

• You hold a Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources Management and Entrepreneurship. This is an interesting combination. What led you to go towards these 2 fields of your studies?

I chose Human Resources Management because I wanted to be in a position that is focused around people. I love being able to help others and I find it very fulfilling. I chose Entrepreneurship because of an elective I took that was part of that curriculum called Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. This class changed my mindset so much. It taught me to go out of my comfort zone to become better. It taught me that it’s okay to not have everything figured out. It taught me to chase after the things I want. Human Resources Management can be a little outdated sometimes and I want to be able to apply a fresh and innovative entrepreneurial mindset to the industry.

• You were very active throughout your college career as a peer mentor and president for clubs/organizations. How did these extracurricular activities help you develop professionally and support your success?

These extracurricular activities taught me how to manage my time better. Having a full calendar can be really fun and rewarding, but also overwhelming at times. Because of all of my responsibilities, I had to learn how to use my time more efficiently and separate my time for work and fun. It’s really a balancing act but once you master it, you won’t be stressed about work when you’re relaxing and vice versa. This will be extremely useful in establishing a work life balance when I start working full time!

• Are there any advice you would like to share for students or final undergrads?

Two pieces of advice:

  1. Everything is a lesson. Try to learn as much as you can from every win and every loss.
  2. One of my favorite professors once told me this: In your life you will be faced with, on average, 10 opportunities that will change your life. It’s your job to recognize these opportunities and say yes to them.

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