Betty Nen

Credentials: Emergency Management Specialist, FEMA's Individual and Community Preparedness Division

Washington, DC

What specific skills from your Asian Languages & Cultures major do you use every day in your career and what are unexpected ways that this major has helped you in your career?

Every day I have to think critically about issues related to individual and community preparedness in the United States, and how to translate research findings into tangible steps people can take to become prepared, stay prepared, and prepare their communities for emergencies and disasters. Through my ALC major, I learned how to methodically organize and reorganize information so that it is presented in a logical manner, and I learned how to think critically about complex global and historical issues, and how their ramifications impact the rest of the world. While I don’t use
my Asian language (Bahasa Indonesia) in my day to day work (although we do work with educational materials translated into Korean, Mandarin and Vietnamese), the interdisciplinary nature of the degree has served me very well. I know how to write clearly and concisely, convey information in plain language, and to approach obstacles from multiple angles. An unexpected way my ALC major has helped me in my career is as a networking tool. I’ve discovered many people have some sort of connection to Asia, whether it be through study abroad, work or research in the region, and are oftentimes all too excited to have someone with whom to discuss. Networking is incredibly important for federal/DC-based careers, and having one more tool in your toolbelt is an asset. I’ve had interviews for jobs start with the interviewer speaking to me in Indonesian, or asking me about my experience with the major, and I believe it’s a great way to connect on a more personal level which in turn can aid in career advancement. Similarly, the network of advisors, mentors, and friends I’ve made within the ALC community has stuck with me since graduation. They are some of the kindest and most considerate people I met at UW-Madison, and I value our relationships deeply. They provide career advising, letters of recommendation, and general support to me years after graduation, and I couldn’t be more thankful!
Class on May 2020 (Double Major in Political Science and Southeast Asian Studies)