“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost
This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.
I love that living in DC has brought such a wide variety of people into my life. One of those people is Brian, who I met through a young adult’s small group at church. As he elaborates below, Brian has a really unique sense of optimism and an attitude toward life that is really refreshing. He is an avid traveler/adventurer, a genuinely fun person to be around and maybe its because he’s a fellow writer, but I’ve always noticed and appreciated how intentional he is in his conversations with others. With all that and what I knew of his journey post-college so far, I was really looking forward to reading Brian’s answers to my questions and now I am equally excited to share his story with you. As his friend, I also really enjoy living vicariously through his Snapchat as he chases Congressmen around the Capitol on the daily.
Name: Brian Cheung
Hometown: Rockaway, NJ
College: Syracuse University
Degree(s): Broadcast & Digital Journalism, Finance
Current Location: Washington, DC area
Current Job: Financial Journalist
How did you choose your college and your major?
When I was a kid, I went to a birthday party at a venue called “Imagination Station.” It was basically a big play place where you could pretend to be in different jobs (farmer, firefighter, chef). One of those booths had a make shift broadcast news set, which I ended up loving. That’s how I knew I wanted to be a journalist.
Syracuse was one of my top schools because of its journalism program. I applied, got a scholarship, and headed up to the winter tundra for four years of journalism school, where I also picked up another degree in finance.
What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I was in a fraternity, hosted some news programs on our on-campus news station, started a community service organization with some friends called Circle K (collegiate version of Kiwanis), was part of the Cru Christian fellowship, lead campus tours, and wrote for the college newspaper.
What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
As you can see from the answer above it was mostly time management. By senior year I was pretty spent.
What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
Don’t feel bad to ease up on some of your extracurricular obligations if it means spending more time to develop relationships with your professors and your friends. Some of the best people I’ve ever met were people I crossed paths with during college. With the uncertainty of where people move post grad, it’s important to cherish the time you have on campus with those people.
Tell us about your career so far?
After I graduated, I moved to Arlington, Va. to start a job as an analyst at the Federal Reserve. One year in, I decided I wanted to go back into journalism and accepted an opportunity to become a reporter covering banking at S&P Global Market Intelligence, an industry news organization.
How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
The best lessons from college came outside of the lecture halls. Through class projects, campus activities, and other experiences on campus, I had to learn how to problem solve on the fly and work with people to put together an assignment, organize a fundraiser, or broadcast a news segment. Strong communication skills, critical thinking, and leadership qualities are all intangible things that can boost your professional stock in basically any career.
On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
The mundane but necessary functions of being an adult: feeding yourself, not forgetting to pay your bills and/or rent, and filing taxes.
What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
I put a lot of things on the digital calendar (Outlook, iCal).
At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
My strength is my unwavering optimism. It takes a lot to break me, and I’d like to think that I can overcome any challenge I face.
My weakness is probably taking on so many challenges that I end up breaking.
How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
I like to remind myself that not only is there a purpose for doing all of these things – there’s a reason for why I’m the one doing them.
Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
I don’t think much about work-life so much as I think about the fitness of mind-body-soul. Work and school keep the mind sharp, exercise keeps the body fit and church keeps the soul filled.
What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
I’m proud that I’ve managed to juggle full-time work and part-time school (pursuing an M.S. in Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University) without forgetting to feed myself.
What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
During the weekdays, life is basically the following: sleep, work, study, exercise. They don’t always need to follow that order but I try to touch all four of those activities in a given day.
On the weekends, I really enjoy being outside: basketball, running, hiking. As someone who gets cabin fever very easily, I love to get out of the apartment and explore new places, which is easy to do in the sprawling D.C. metro area. My favorite thing to do: pick a new neighborhood I haven’t been to, hide in a local coffee shop or restaurant and study.
What path are you looking to take next? Any long-term goals?
Just for Fun
What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
A few days a week I’ll go to the gym or run before I head to work. For me that’s a great way to get your mind and body in full working mode by 9am.
Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
I jokingly describe myself as a “social coffee drinker” because I never really drank coffee before I started working. But as a journalist I’m always meeting with people over coffee, so I’ve been drinking coffee a lot as of late (particularly the Dunkin Donuts coffee in the Longworth House Office Building).
…but normally I drink green tea. Another must-have vice: a snack for 10am (can rarely make it between breakfast and lunch without getting hungry).
If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
No limitations aside, I would be a travel journalist with a television show. My favorite things are travel and food, so naturally I would want to do exactly what Anthony Bourdain does.
Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
I miss the Syracuse basketball games at the Carrier Dome where I often lost my voice. I miss the late night munchies along Marshall Street and I really miss singing along to Americana jams at the college bar, Chucks. But most of all, I miss the people I used to do all those things with.
Brian, thank you for taking the time out of your busy career and student double life to be a guest on this series!