J. Mia Tsui '11

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Name: Mia Tsui
Job: Elementary Athletic Coordinator, America SCORES Boston
Current City: Boston, MA
School: Princeton - Class of 2011
Major: Music
Social Media:

What's your story?

What did you do after graduating from college? What challenges did you face in finding a job that fit your passions, and what helped you to get through them? Where do you find yourself now?

As a starry-eyed freshman, I came to Princeton considering majoring in Philosophy, Physics, or Politics. I left Princeton as a starry-eyed senior with a degree in music and lots of big ideas. I never thought I would be interested in pursuing a 'traditional' career in music: composing, performing, serving as an arts administrator; but I always loved my music classes, and writing my thesis (Jazz Suite from Carmen for 17-piece big-band) is the best thing I've accomplished in my life. At the same time, I took classes in other subjects that I was interested in—law, history, neuroscience, psychology. I prided myself on never taking a class because I 'had to,' always because I wanted to, and I still think it was a really good decision to just take the classes I was interested in without worrying about whether it made sense or how it all fit together.

Right now I work for America SCORES Boston, a non-profit that teaches teamwork and self-expression through soccer and creative writing/service-learning in inner-city schools. I work with the kids, teach a lot of soccer, and have had the wonderful opportunity to help the organization define itself in a number of big-picture areas, from developing our strategic plan and target outcomes, to making decisions about what programming fits within our mission and what lies outside of it. I love working for a small organization (there are 10 people in my office) where my ideas are heard, and where I feel like I am actually making a difference not just in the lives of the kids we serve, but in defining how we serve them.

I can't tell you exactly how what I'm learning here will come into play in my future, but there is nothing I've learned that hasn't changed how I think about things and made itself readily applicable to any other job or experience that I will undertake. Ultimately, I hope to achieve social development through music. The way I look at it, part of my career will be to define a field that doesn't quite yet exist, and only by doing what I love and gathering knowledge from disparate areas have I even come close to being ready to do something like that.

Helpful Hints?

Is there anything you wish you had known as a graduating senior? Or was there something that you already knew that helped you get through it all? Please share any resources, tools, etc. that were useful for you!

One of the most important things is that you don't have to think about this as 'starting your career!' You do not know enough right now to have any idea what you'll be doing in 10 years—you'll be a different person, the world will be a different place, and given those factors you can't know what will be the best thing for you to do with yourself at that time! Much of the messaging you hear at college makes it sound like you are supposed to know these things, that you're supposed to be able to justify what you want to do right after you graduate in the context of your broader interests and long-term dreams and visions.

Right out of college, I've learned so much more by doing something whose relevance I couldn't exactly explain; I couldn't predict what I thought I would get out of it. It's more important that you can explain how you HAVE grown and what you have learned from an experience that you couldn't even have IMAGINED beforehand, than trying to identify what you're going to learn before even experiencing it. If you already know what you're going to learn from something, you've already learned the most important part of it! Do something different—learn a little, live a little! Do something just because you think it might be interesting, take some risks, don't be afraid if you can't explain why—if you follow what you love, you'll always end up right where you need to be.



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