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Merry Chin ’05
July 27, 2023
“My mission in life is to really improve educational equity across…everything. There’s a lot of work to be done; there are unlimited ways to build solutions for this space.” - Merry Chin ’05
As an Associate Product Manager for InStride, a company that partners with businesses to help them provide life-changing education programs to their employees, Merry works on building product features for learners on the InStride platform. But what first led her to choose the ed-tech path?
For Merry, joining Steppingstone as a Scholar in 2004 was the “first pivotal moment” in her life, exposing her to different educational opportunities and students from different Boston neighborhoods, in addition to providing her parents with the support they needed to navigate the education system in the U.S.
“Being a part of Steppingstone has led me to wanting to be in the education space.”
Her interest in the “tech” side of ed-tech formed later. While a high school student at The Winsor School, she enrolled in a marketing class at MIT. She quickly learned that marketing was not the path for her—the experience did, however, spark her interest in business. In 2011, she would go on to begin her undergraduate career at the University of Southern California, where she majored in business administration with a concentration in operations management.
The summer before her senior year, Merry participated in a six-week internship with Amazon as part of their operations team in a fulfillment center. She was tasked with identifying strategies to improve the center’s efficiency. A six-week summer internship turned into a full-time offer, which allowed Merry to explore operations at Amazon for two and a half years after graduating from the University of Southern California in 2015.
“I was passionate about speaking to my team about their development, asking questions like, ‘Hey, what are your career goals? What’s the role you want to be in, and how can we help you get to that?’”
For Merry, working at Amazon and getting the opportunity to work closely with learning and development teams sparked a passion for connecting with others and supporting employees in the navigation of their own career paths. The experience prompted Merry to enroll in a graduate degree program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education focusing on technology, innovation, and education. Upon graduating, Merry joined TikTokin 2019, first as a talent development consultant and soon after, the learning technologies and evaluation lead.
“At TikTok, my manager saw in me an analytical way of thinking, coming from my operations background and also my interest in technology from my ed-tech background with my master’s. He actually created a role for me at TikTok which was focused on working with learning technology and with different tech teams.”
Merry’s love for strategizing with others on how to bring “big-picture visions” to life would eventually lead her back to the West Coast and into her current role as an associate product manager for InStride. For her, product management was a natural next step in her career as it brought together all three of her passions: business, education, and technology.
Whether it be her brief step into the world of marketing or her long-lasting interest in educational equity, Merry’s commitment to actualizing a career path that could connect all three of her passions was anything but straightforward. For anyone on or looking to begin this journey, she emphasizes the importance of “exploring opportunities, experiences, and paths” —a process that ultimately begins with what you want out of your next opportunity—especially for recent graduates that are just learning to broaden their career horizons as they learn more about what the world has to offer.
Merry recognizes just how easy it is to get caught up on “what’s next.” While getting lost in the sea of opportunities that await you can be exciting, she urges readers to “enjoy being in the moment,” too:
“When I was in the Steppingstone program, it was very easy to be very forward-thinking. What high school you’re going to, what college you’re going to go to. I think for me, I was always thinking about the next thing. I would say, really enjoy being in the moment. All the years go by so fast.”
Merry plans to return to the East Coast in the near future, and is excited to rekindle the relationships she’s built with her Steppingstone peers in Boston when she returns.
Have a Steppingstone Alum in mind that you’d like to nominate for the spotlight series? Reach out to Makeda Daniel (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
Steppingstone is an educational nonprofit which serves students of every race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, or political beliefs to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to Scholars enrolled in the program. It does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, or national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship programs, or other organization-administered activities.