Featured FindSpark Creative: Zhi Ting Chang

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Zhi Ting Chang is an enthusiastic, hard-working member of the Findspark community. She is a Colgate alum with a passion for corporate social responsibility, and her writing has been published on City Atlas.

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Connect with Zhi: Linkedin / Twitter

What sets you apart from other young creatives?

I don’t have a background in the creative arts; I have a social science background with a passion in helping the environment. When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to start out by working for an environmental nonprofit. So I started interning at the Development office of the Aububon New York, helping implement and execute various fundraising initiatives ranging from events management to social media campaigns. Through this experience, I realized that working in a nonprofit often requires a lot of creativity and make certain projects happen.

Although my current job as the Budget Officer at the Wildlife Conservation Society offers less creative flexibility, I do however, try to keep my creativity going by scheduling my time effectively to do health-checks on the budgets which I help manage. On my off time, I tune into my Twitter feed to get the insider scoop on what kinds of creative things various conservation organizations, businesses, and individuals are doing to better the world. Though I have accomplished my first career goal, I am creatively doing my career exploration on the side to figure out how I can contribute to the overall green movement even more.

What is your proudest career moment (so far)?

I have two proud career moments, actually!

My first proudest career moment is landing my first internship out of college with the Audubon Society. The internship, which eventually turned into a full-time job, exposed me to all areas of nonprofit development and fundraising, social media, event planning, finance and budgeting, and grants writing. It really was the best first job I could’ve ever asked for.

But I wanted more. I decided to take on a challenge on working for the Wildlife Conservation Society, an international conservation NGO, to oversee budgets for its Asia program countries. I took on this job for two reasons: I was inspired by my undergrad travels to work internationally one day, and I wanted to prove to myself that I can take on a challenge and that I am a fast learner and can do high-level analytical assignments. I applied for a vacant position in January to fill in for the program manager who was going on maternity leave at the time. Here I am 8 months later, I have my second proudest career moment and an in-grade promotion 6 months into the job!

Taking on this role has allowed me to flex my analytical muscle, learn about maintaining international business relationships, and reflect on my own personality. This has been a great experience thus far!

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What’s something cool you’ve made / done recently?

In relation to my proudest career moment, I think the coolest opportunity I was given is my current job where I manage 7 of the 16 Asia budgets on a daily basis! Keeping track of money is no easy task but I don’t do it alone, thankfully. I receive help from my supervisors as well as Finance Managers from each respective country to keep each budget in check and as close to program needs and actual expense as possible.

It’s an amazing feeling to know that my colleagues and I are equally passionate about conservation and we are constantly challenging each other to perform better.

What’s something new you’ve recently learned?

In the past 8 months, I’ve been sharpening my analytical skills through the functions of my job.

As a Budget Officer, I deal with Excel on a daily basis so it’s imperative I get familiar with the functions of Excel. I’m taking an online course to hone my Excel skills and have already learned advanced skills such as how to do VLOOKUPs and pivot tables. In addition to these cool functions, there are some really neat tips and tricks to get a job done, and if you know these tips and tricks, Excel is like a wizard!

In addition to becoming super Excel-proficient, I am learning how to use SAP, a German software that helps track and manage our financial database, which my organization has adopted in the past year.

Where do you see yourself in in 5 years?

I see myself finishing up my Masters degree in Environmental Sustainability and just starting to work at a certified B-corporation, or a business with a rigorous Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department as a CSR Manager.

What’s your favorite social media network and why?

Twitter hands down! It is where I am able to connect with like-minded people all around the world at the tip of my fingers. I am a visual learner so it’s best if I can see things in categories. To get organized, I’ve created lists specifically for CSR, B-Corporations, Conservation, NYC Sustainability, etc. and respectively sorted influencers into these lists so I can track their tweets through different news streams via HootSuite. I can’t express how helpful it is to finding relevant resources and latest news directly from companies and industry influencers!

What do you do to get inspired?

I keep a notebook full of my random thoughts, valuable comments from my supervisors, and inspirational quotes I find on the Internet. I just refer to it when I need inspiration.

What’s your favorite productivity tool and why?

The Pocket app. It’s impossible to read all the interesting articles that comes my way in one sitting, so I put them in the Pocket app, where I am able to read them at my leisure without WiFi. It makes me feel like a super multi-tasker when I read what I’ve Pocket’d during my daily 3-hour commute!

What’s been your favorite piece of career advice you’ve received?

“The best way to get ahead of your job is to crush every project you’re given and ask for more projects to crush. @greggiangrande #findspark”– My tweet a couple days after the FindSpark Find & Follow Your Passion Conference

Show gratitude and do every project to the best you can and you’ll slowly get noticed.

What’s your favorite part about being a FindSpark Member?

The ability to meet other creatives and hear about their personal navigation through their careers. It gives me the encourage, motivation, and comfort to do what I love.

How did you hear about FindSpark?

I was searching for an internship after my college graduation two years ago and came across NY Creative Interns. I kept it bookmarked and really admire what Emily has done with it, so I joined in on the circle of career optimism.

Anything else cool you’d like to share? This is your chance to brag!

I traveled to Hammerfest, Norway, one of the northernmost towns in the world in May 2011.

My “in your element” photo was taken in the town on the site of Struve Geodetic Arc, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is where the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian took place, and this measurement helped determine the exact size and shape of our planet.

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