Asian Media Access coordinated a speed-mentoring event with the youth at Prairie Seed Academy and invited several AANHPI corporate leaders from Target to join and provide mentorship to students. Each leader provided insight on their current positions at Target, the journey it took to get to where they are now, and advice they would give their younger self. Each leader came from different departments within the organization, this provided diverse levels of expertise and insight. Some of the roles included Auditing, Engineering, Law/Litigation, Software, and Product Management. Although there are standard roads to get to where they are, many leaders did not take the traditional paths to get to their current careers. There were leaders who thought they wanted to be doctors for success or some leaders who went into college completely undecided what they wanted to do next. There were even some who lived out another career.
Right before the pandemic, Brian had concerts and conferences booked on his calendar as a musician. When the pandemic hit, Brian decided to find a stable career at Target, and he found that a multitude of his piano skills transferred into his current audit position. For many years growing up, Brian felt that he had to persuade people, including his parents, that music was a realistic and successful career path. He shares that it is important to follow your dreams, but it is also important to recognize that career changes are normal, and he now enjoys his work life balance and still utilizes a lot of the collaborative skills in his daily work, and he would not have gained these skills without the experience following his passion for music. Brian followed his dream and found success, but he was also able to transfer a lot of his skills into new positions and passions.
Tinzing is another great example of how empowering it is to follow your passion and take on challenges of starting new again. Tinzing was born in Tibet and her family sought refuge in India. Growing up, she found she was working harder at school as it was a challenge learning a new language. After attending college in India, she immigrated to the U.S. in 1999 for new opportunities. With this, she was again challenged with a new culture change. She worked a few different jobs until she decided to go back to school to become a paralegal. Although she had already established a successful path, she decided to follow her passion to learn and specialize in a new area. She shares with the youth to always be curious, resilient, and open to learning. She discovered her love for paralegal and litigation through the different paths she took, but it also took a lot of strength to follow her dreams.
Growing up, we are often asked what we want to be when we grow up, where we want to go to college, what we hope for our future, but as we grow older, we discover that there are a world of opportunities, passions, and interests that we did not know existed. What we want at age 5 to age 15 may have changed drastically. It was important to have this speed-mentoring to help relieve the pressure on youth to make these decisions and feel that they are on the right path. Your passions, values, and interests will inevitably evolve, especially as we discover more routes, and it is important to know that every path is not always linear. The Target team instilled the message that it is a part of the process to find your passions and lean on your strengths. Every move, opportunity, and internship is a way that we discover and learn what we enjoy. It is okay if we decide to go to college or not, and if we take longer in college than the traditional time. All of the Target leaders did not follow a traditional course, and they were still able to build sustainable careers that they enjoy.
It is especially important to see representation in your community, especially for the youth at Prairie Seed Academy. The impact is significant on youth to see leaders who look like them with similar upbringing and backgrounds. It is empowering to see that there are AANHPI Leaders in great professions that they are passionate about. One of the Target leaders even shared that they were starting a new position within the organization – even the moves that the Target leaders make today are not permanent. This helps relieve the pressure on youth of trying to define a path so young for their future and to understand that it is okay to not follow the path they originally set out for themselves. Each and every youth has potential, and it is a constant journey, but lean on the strengths and their dreams, not the pressure they feel from others. This will allow them to find success for themselves in what truly will make them happy.