Author: Kate Liu
For student Michael Nguyen, college was a place to grow not only intellectually but also professionally. But like many of his fellow students, he spent significant time deciding how to align his passion for entrepreneurship, mentorship, and advocacy on behalf of Asian and Asian American students. While serving as treasurer for the 2012 Midwest Asian American Student Union (MAASU) Conference, Michael and Shane Carlin shared their first experience working together. At the time, Shane was serving on the board of advisors for MAASU and would later become Michael’s mentor, friend, and business partner.
Building mentoring relationships like this became inspiration for Shane to start his own company, Asian Student Achievement (ASA), a vision he had aspired to fulfill in order to coach individuals with the same level of guidance he provided to Michael. Having mentored many college students and young professionals since 1995, Shane had too often experienced the professional needs of Asian and Asian American students go unaddressed. Wanting to bolster the number of Asian and Asian American candidates through the pipeline for leadership, Shane founded our company to arm students and early professionals with useful skills, such as professional networking, branding oneself, and job interviewing.
We were built on the foundations of East-meets-West culture and aim to become our community’s main ladder and professional resource through interactive workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions. We cover a broad range of topics designed with the individual’s personal goals and cultural upbringing in mind — Shane himself is a Korean-American adoptee.
In developing these services and offerings, ASA has been able to reach universities and organizations across the nation, hosting workshops and speaking engagements for organizations including Miami University, UniPro (Pilipino American Unity for Progress), ITASA (Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association), and FACT (Filipino Americans Coming Together).
Our workshop at Miami University this past fall was ASA’s second year partnering with the Asian American Association (AAA) and the International Student Advisory Council (ISAC) on campus. After featuring an interactive networking workshop in 2016, ASA and Miami decided to host a professionalism and etiquette dinner. Our event focused on professional dining, workplace diversity, and networking, while incorporating a lively dinner with students of the two organizations for a night of discussion and fun.
One of our international students from Thailand, Hathaipat Arayangkul, participated in a customized workshop held between ASA and the executive board of Asian American Association. “After participating in Shane’s workshop, I learned more about myself and my executive team members. Now knowing my strengths and weaknesses, I want to improve my weaknesses while at the same time improve on my strengths to become a better me when working with my Asian American Association executive team.”
Launching a diversity-driven Job Board
Hearing praise and critique from many different students has helped to innovate our business. As our team is always looking to equip the next generation of Asian and Asian American professionals with the means they need to succeed, we recently launched our own Job Board. Through this platform, we focus on connecting our job seekers with diversity-driven employers.
Our Job Board remains one of the few in the US specializing in Asian and Asian Americans and connected to coaching, ensuring that job seekers who we’ve personally coached are the same individuals who have created profiles on our Job Board. “In other professional social platforms and job boards, the pool of people is very general and it’s hard to find who you want,” said student Michelle Lee, a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “But being able to show that there are Asian leaders present in our general public, it’d be great for job seekers and recruiters to be able to have one place where it’s easy to distinguish who is the best of the best.”
After graduating, ASA students continue to apply the skills and perspectives they gained from ASA events. University of Illinois graduate and engineer DJ Mascarenas reflected on our growth as seen through his numerous photographs he’s taken at our events: “Having had Shane as a mentor in the past, I can personally attest to the immense value of his professional experience, networking prowess, and keen personal insight [through ASA]….I look forward to seeing how they grow and what impact they will have on the next generation of professionals.”
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