At Amentum, we celebrate our people, our cultures, and we recognize the value of diversity and inclusion. In May, we’ll focus on Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month while shining a light on one employee at a time. Today’s Q&A is with Alycia Chau, Supervisory Paralegal, September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), Engineering, Science, & Technology.
How did you come to join Amentum?
After obtaining my M.A., I was looking for government positions, since I was interested in different sectors after having worked with various nonprofits in different roles. While I have the opportunity, it’s been important to me that I take the time to try different roles and directions to determine where I want to be in the future. I had worked with attorneys and was interested in program operations, having worked for several chiefs of staff, which led me to apply for the program coordinator position at the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), which aligned with my job interests.
What is your professional and personal background?
I graduated from the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!) and majored in Foreign Affairs. I went on to obtain my M.A. in International Law and Economics at Johns Hopkins SAIS. In between my degrees, I was a program specialist/event planner for a government attorneys association, and I had the opportunity to travel to 30+ states. Prior to my current position, I’ve experienced a combination of jobs and internships with various nonprofits and worked in event planning, grantmaking, program operations, and finance.
Personal: I love to travel, learn languages, and meet new people. I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland, and I interned with a health clinic in Antigua, Guatemala. In my spare time, I enjoy typography and artistic lettering, visiting the various Smithsonian museums, and spending time with my cat, who has become quite famous with online meetings.
Describe the work you do and how you think it makes a positive impact.
I work on the operations side of the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) and provide assistance to the leadership team, which requires basic knowledge about all components of the work that we do. Things are always changing, and it keeps me on my toes. The team is so passionate about the work that we do on behalf of the 9/11 community, and their stories have been extremely inspiring. I have learned so much about the strength and resilience of people and their ability to come together and work towards supporting one another.
What are some of your accomplishments and/or what has been your proudest career moment?
Amentum, and subsequently, the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund (VCF), has allowed me to meet so many people, who have supported me on my career path. This past year, I was able to lead the design of the VCF’s Annual Report. Its launch was my proudest moment, both as my first report and in seeing it come together piece-by-piece. I’ve been granted the rare opportunity at times to work directly with organizational leadership, who have been supportive and allowed me to take larger roles on projects.
What do you enjoy about working for Amentum?
I’ve enjoyed the support I’ve received from all of my colleagues, whether related to career advice or work projects. My time here has provided amazing opportunities both to learn from my colleagues’ experiences and to have access to resources that are offered through Amentum such as Accelerating U.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about humanitarian, volunteer, and philanthropic work, particularly about working with people and learning about them and their stories. I love to travel and find ways to immerse myself in a culture through food, languages, and local tours, whether it be in the U.S. or abroad.
What’s your career advice?
I would focus on persistence. Despite facing setbacks and other obstacles, look at everything as a learning experience and be sure to take advantage of the experience of those around you as well. I’ve learned so much about career paths simply from speaking with those around me, who are more than happy to discuss their work. I’ve also found that taking the initiative and volunteering for tasks will pay off down the line because someone is always watching.
What does safety mean to you or do you have a favorite safety tip?
Safety means being aware of the world around you and trusting your intuition. In a broader sense, as a person who enjoys learning new things every day, it’s important that people can learn about and experience different things in order to make mistakes and learn from them.
What’s the best invention in the world and why?
The Internet and consequently mobile phones. I’m still awed by their ability to connect so many people and their effect on collaboration across disciplines worldwide and for permeating difficult to reach locales.
Anything else you would like to share from a personal or professional perspective?
Remember to take time for yourself! You can only help others when you’re at your best.
What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?
With all the hate and violence nowadays, it’s important to remember the diversity that exists within our lives and to reflect on the meaning of identity. I’ve met so many different types of people both within and outside of the U.S., who have shown me so much about different cultures, representation, and understanding.
I’ve grown up having to overcome stereotypes, both as Asian and female, and I believe it’s important that people find a way to learn about other cultures and take the opportunity to educate themselves and be aware of what is around them. It’s a time to reflect on history, and hopefully, an opportunity for growth.