In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we reached out to SWE’s Asian Connections Affinity Group to gather some advice and words of wisdom for the next generation of Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) engineers.
What’s something you wish someone had told you when you were younger, and/or a piece of advice you’d like to give the next generation of AAPI engineers?
“Be bold and speak loudly! Your voice matters.”
“You will already do your best at shining at whichever education and career path you choose. Our Asian cultures do not prepare us for networking effectively and advocating for yourself.
Get mentors, network with industry professionals (family, friends, SWE volunteers), ask lots of questions, be #bravenotperfect and learn how to advocate for yourself. Spend time on personal development to avoid burnout later. It is ok to ask for help. Even though your colleagues may speak like they know everything, they too started without having industry-specific knowledge and learned things on the job. And they cannot possibly know everything.
You do belong! Don’t let anyone, including yourself, say otherwise.”
-Upekesha Addagatla Ngugi
“It’s ok to fail, just fail fast and fail forward. Don’t wallow is the past failure—learn, move on, and try again. I have to tell myself this. It is not easy to overcome.”
“Dear Tiger Mom: Academic success gives you a good head start but it is not the sole indicator of success. Getting bad grade in physics class isn’t an indicator that STEM isn’t suitable for you. In professional world, many people care less if you get 4.0 gpa or 1600 SAT. Very often it’s a combination of your soft skills, how you communicate with people, being a team player, know how to balance taking risk vs. being perfect etc that determine whether people recognize your potential or not.”
“Find a hobby, like an activity you truly love and enjoy outside of work and nurture that. Burnout is real and you’ll have to find a way to find something you’re passionate about in order to rejuvenate yourself.”