Back in the fall, we blogged about Nicole Chiu as the next star on The Apprentice. We were sad to see her get fired from the show, but it didn’t stop her from pursuing her next career move. Nicole is now a trademark attorney and hosts a radio segment on the side. Before her legal career, the California native was a Miss LA Chinatown pageant princess and the youngest to be elected to the board of directors of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in LA. Read on to find out about her life after The Apprentice and her advice on landing your dream job!
How Asian was your upbringing?
My mom is white and my dad is Chinese American. What was interesting about my experience on The Apprentice is that I was the token Asian. They asked us to submit pictures and I had submitted pictures of me with both my parents, and of course they didn’t use those because it would be obvious that my mom is white.
My dad said I can do anything I wanted to when I grew up, but within certain boundaries. I did theater all through high school and thought I wanted to major in drama in college. I actually went to audition when I was applying to colleges and my dad didn’t understand that. My parents are both attorneys. My birth announcement that my parents put out literally said “A new addition to the firm.”
What’s your fobbiest trait?
I drink a coconut everyday. But, traditionally my friends have made fun of me because there are certain things about me that are very white—I have never owned a rice cooker. It’s moments like that, where my Asian American friends are like wow, you totally are a white person.
What is your dream job?
I am looking into something along the lines of legal correspondent work. I don’t mean that in terms of Nancy Grace or some other predominantly white woman or man. I want to create my own sphere. For me, that would mean a combination of Lisa Ling and SuChin Pak from MTV, except talking about the law and making it more interesting and skewed to minorities, women and young people. We need to break boundaries and create our own careers and our niche. There hasn’t been an Asian on The View since Lisa Ling and I’d love to put the smack down on Elisabeth Hasslebeck.
Why did you choose to do The Apprentice?
I’ve always taken things that people don’t think are traditional door openers and made them into opportunities for myself. The big way I got my foot through the door as a community leader down in LA was through pageants. Anyone who is going to be successful must master the art of the spinning anything and taking advantage of every opportunity, even if it looks non-traditional. As women and minorities, we have to look for those unique opportunities even more. When I put myself out there The Apprentice, yes, it was a risk but I had the faith in myself that I can spin anything.
Did getting fired from the show affect your career goals in any way? What did you learn from it?
It opened my eyes to the fact that when you come out of law school with a law degree, it doesn’t mean you’re going to have your dream job. Most don’t find their dream job right out of law school. For me, it has always been more than just the money. I want to do something I love. Going on The Apprentice was a ticket out of a career that people would say you’re crazy to leave, but it opened doors.
As an Asian woman competing in the corporate world, what are your biggest challenges?
We are our number one challenge. I’ve never known so many people that are so hard on themselves, which are Asian women. As Asian American women, we need to fight labels. We aren’t the stereotypical Asian American woman that has dominated traditional media. We need to show we have a voice and that we are our own kind of leaders. Not all Asian American women are the same leaders. That’s the biggest challenge we face—not to fit into molds that people create for us.
In this tough market, what advice do you give recent graduates or people who are looking for jobs?
Beggars can’t be choosers right now, but don’t let that turn into complacency. Use that opportunity to grow and learn as much as you can. If you know that’s not what you want to do, it’s on you to do searching to find out what you want to do. Risk is uncomfortable and unfortunately that’s why a dream job is a dream job. It’s because it’s hard.
What tips do you have for interviewing?
An invaluable lesson I’ve learned from pageants is that everything is life is about presentation. You want everything about you to be impeccable. At the same time, it’s those things that make you different that should be highlighted. Don’t read too many books about what the right interview answers are because the right answers are boring.
Any final words of advice?
I feel like telling other Asian Americans it’s OK if you don’t know what you want to do or if what you’re doing isn’t the way it should look. It’s about having multiple careers because we have multiple interests. We always imagine having traditional careers that our parents wanted for us. Sometimes knowing what you don’t want to do lets you know what you do what to do.
The other lesson I learned from quitting my job and going on The Apprentice is that going on a reality show is the most unsure thing you can do. We learn that we can’t control everything. We can’t plan everything out to the minuscule detail about how I’m going to get to the next achievement and level. It’s so much better to be open to opportunity. Whatever path you go on is never the end of the world.