Ching Tong, a self-declared “people person” from Sandy, Utah, finds the most joy in life when she’s building relationships with others.
During her time at the BYU Marriott School of Business, the 2020 MISM graduate found belonging and purpose through connections with faculty and students in the Department of Information Systems (IS). Now living in New York City, Tong continues to seek fulfilling connections with her coworkers, friends, and anyone else she meets.
Taking inspiration from the business path of her mom, a 1988 BYU Marriott MBA graduate, Tong originally applied for and was accepted into the accounting program. She didn’t, however, anticipate how much she would enjoy Information Systems 303: Introduction to Computer Programming, a class she took to explore possible emphases. “I ended up falling in love with what I learned in that class and knew I needed to switch to the IS program,” she says.
The transition from accounting to information systems tested Tong’s determination. “I remember feeling nervous about joining a male-dominated industry. I didn't have any background experience in tech,” she recalls. “But the program allowed me to easily jump in.” Specifically, she recalls the personable and talented faculty members who met one-on-one with her to help her understand concepts and ideas.
Their kindness affected Tong deeply. “My interactions with the IS professors gave me a lot of confidence. I know I was seen in the program and that people understood my value and potential,” she says. That confidence served as a strong foundation for many of the exciting and memorable times during Tong’s BYU experience.
“I served in the Association for Information Systems leadership for a year, and I loved collaborating with other IS students to plan activities for the entire major to enjoy,” Tong says. She also found tight-knit groups to study with. “Gathering often with classmates to study made us less competitive and more willing to help each other succeed,” she says. Her groups of friends from the program even inspired spontaneous adventures, including one memorable trip to the United Kingdom and Denmark.
Tong’s relationships in the IS program opened doors for her, including the doors of a consulting company in New York. Right after graduation, Tong started her job as a consultant at Pariveda, which provides technology solutions for businesses, and has since become an associate. From her first interactions with the company, Tong knew she had found an excellent place to pursue her career and foster new relationships.
“Before I started, I was partnered with a current Pariveda employee who helped me with my questions as I joined the company. I felt seen, and I appreciated that,” she says. “I remember feeling nervous about meeting people at first, but making friends has actually been pretty easy. I love building relationships with my coworkers.”
Beyond her work relationships, Tong has discovered the thrill of life in New York and has found endless opportunities for making new connections. “I have met the most amazing people in this city, and I love that this experience is happening while I'm young, single, and without too many responsibilities. It’s cool to partake in others’ hobbies and passions," she says.
One of Tong’s personal goals is to learn how to better love and understand people. “I like surrounding myself with people who help me become better,” she says. “And I love supporting others. Even though we all fall short sometimes, I know these connections will help me the rest of my life.”
Tong contributes her time and talents to help others because of the kindness she has received in her life. From teaching kids how to code to serving in the temple, Tong is always finding ways to broaden her reach. “I've always resonated with helping, serving, and sharing my knowledge with others. That's why I enjoy teaching. That's why service is a big deal for me—because it brings me a lot of joy,” she says.
Ultimately, Tong hopes to be the kind of friend who is available to help, no matter where she is in her life. "I love being friends with people I meet, and I hope they would feel comfortable coming to me if they ever needed something,” she says. “When it comes down to the basics, you are in charge of creating your best life. And I’ve learned that nothing is more valuable than the people you surround yourself with.”
Writer: Samantha Clinger