Candice Kim is one of the founding members of the Simple Steps Seattle and recently joined The Miilk as a research associate. She is also a self-published author of her whimsical children’s book titled, A Cat with a Bangs. She believes ordinary things can turn into an adventure if you pursue it and work hard.
Q: Can you walk us through your journey?
A: I studied advertising and public relations in college and began my career as an account executive at a PR agency. I realized I enjoyed reading, writing, and analyzing more, so I decided to learn Python and R, then moved on to work at a startup as a data analyst. Two years later, my life in Seattle began and while waiting for my green card, I spent the first two years studying English and volunteering. My volunteering experience includes setting up booths at a local festival, managing a church’s membership data with SQL, and helping with email marketing at an art academy. At the art academy, as one of the volunteer perks, I enrolled in a book illustration course and my life changed ever since. I started posting my drawings on Instagram and eventually self-published a children’s book. I was later offered to exhibit my drawings at an art show, and I prepared for it without any outside help—from applying for a business license to placing an order to have my merchandise manufactured. I found my passion for drawing and I joined the mentorship program at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators last year. My goal is to create a dummy book for my new story this summer.
Q: You recently joined The Miilk as a research associate. What made you apply for this particular job?
A: I worked for Changbal, an organization for Seattle-based IT professionals, and met Jaekwon Son, the founder of The Miilk. I was too shy to ask him about job openings then but when I saw the job posting at Simple Steps job board, I was eager to apply. After submitting my resume, one of the Simple Steps staff reached out to me to review my resume and share a few interview tips. I was immensely grateful that they took out their precious time to walk me through the interview process. Thanks to their assistance, I passed both the behavior and technical interview and then accepted the job offer.
Q: Can you share your experience working in a team with two other Simple Steps members at The Miilk?
A: Do I deserve to work with such great people? Not only are they great in terms of qualifications and experience, but also in their own unique skill set that complements the team. Some employers hold the false belief that women returning from a career break would display some serious skill gaps. Although their skills might have gotten a little rusty, they can brush them up in no time. That was the case with me and the other members, too. Women with a strong desire to work can quickly rise and meet the expectations no matter how long they have been away from work.
Q: Since The Miilk is based in the Bay Area in California, do you have any difficulties working remotely?
A: I am used to working from home as many freelance illustrators do, so I don’t necessarily have challenges working remotely. But remote communication is less efficient than face-to-face so it does take more effort to effectively communicate with my teammates. Moreover, due to the increased family commitments during the quarantine period, it has been a struggle to set the right time for everyone to communicate. I feel lucky that I have full support from my family and since I don’t have kids or pets, I have more time to work and spend on my illustrations.
Q: How did you join Simple Steps and what kind of support have you received?
A: In 2019, I attended the Simple Steps Seattle’s initial meeting. I was looking for a job at the time and I also wanted to help other immigrant job seekers because I understood how lost and insecure they could be feeling. I joined forces with the other Seattle members to prepare for the first meetup. I was a member of the coding study sessions and that not only boosted my confidence but also helped me build my study habits. Currently, I run the picture diary challenge, where you look back on the day’s events, share them with challenge members, and build emotional connections. I received tremendous support from Simple Steps and thankful for their support.
Q: Do you have any advice for other Simple Steps members?
A: When I moved to the U.S. and began job searching, I had no concrete plan at all. I didn’t pursue qualifications or networking not only because of time/cost constraints but also because I felt too much pressure. If you feel pressured to try new things, start by looking around yourself. Find something that suits your passion and immerse yourself into it. Once you feel more confident and relaxed, you will find yourself ready to grab opportunities coming your way. Look hard for an adventure lurking around you. Once you find one, stay engaged with it. That’s the starting point of opportunities and accomplishments.
Candice lives and works in Seattle and as a Simple Steps member, she participated in study groups and challenge sessions established in the Simple Steps Seattle. Seattle members have been busy actively engaging in study groups which include business English, programming, UI & UX, arts & crafts, and reading. The groups challenge each other to achieve their goals becoming each other’s accountability partners. Candice’s persistence and passion keep her moving forward to achieve her goals. You can see her beautiful illustrations and her personal sketches