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Spotlight on Commerce: Laura Shin, Deputy Chief, Federal Assistance Law Division

Blog post by Laura Shin, Deputy Chief, Federal Assistance Law Division

My name is Laura and I have encountered many of the experiences as a first-generation professional in the United States. My parents were college-educated in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Once they got to the U.S., they both had to begin their work lives all over again and in a new language. For example, my father, who had been in a professional job in South Korea working for a major company, had to take a blue-collar job and various retail jobs in America that didn't reflect his level of education. My mother was fortunate to continue to be a nurse, but faced language barrier struggles working in an English-speaking environment. But, my parents faced these hardships because they wanted a better opportunity for their family in the United States.

I was lucky to have parents that were educated, but they did not have the cultural capital of growing up in the states. I may have not had the resources of most American born parents, but at the same time, I think my upbringing helped me to develop grit and persistence when it came to accomplishing my goals. Throughout my life, I had to be resourceful, ask good questions, and read a lot to figure things out.

Once I joined the workforce, I realized it was important to do a good job, but it was also important to get involved in professional networks and develop important skills such as communication, leadership, and building coalitions. Over the years, I have found opportunities to further develop these skills and was fortunate enough to be accepted into and participate in the Senior Executive Service (SES) Candidate Development Program here at the Department of Commerce. Currently, I’m the Deputy Chief in the Office of the General Counsel in the Financial Assistance Law Division at the Department of Commerce.

Ed. note: This post is part of the very first Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of the Department of Commerce employees who are First Generation Professionals. First Generation Professionals are one of the first in their immediate families to enter the professional work environment. They are professionals with varying socio-economic backgrounds, life experiences, skills and talents that diversify our workforce.