Learning from Big Sisters

Updated: Apr 28

As a fresh graduate, navigating the job market, especially in a time of major shifts, is daunting on many levels.


How do you start? Where do you go? What should you do?


The Big Sister Sessions was an informal networking and peer-mentorship session at the Future Women Leaders Forum (FWLF). This was a new segment included for fresh graduates and final-year tertiary students to put forward their unanswered questions, seek guidance, have meaningful conversations, and form connections with women who were just slightly ahead in their career and life.


With the smaller age gap, the students and fresh graduates in the audience would be able to better relate with women that are just a few years ahead of them, and have a closer goal to work towards based on the point which the women are at.


The first session, Making that Switch, brought together five ladies - Jyot Bhalla (615 Productions), Natalie Eng (Google), Letitia Ng (Tech Company), Noelle Huiyin Yeo (SingTel FutureNow Innovation Centre), Jiayun Fang (Shiseido Asia Pacific), all of whom chose a career that was different from what they had originally envisioned or studied in college. They shared their journey on pivoting to a new path and their experiences along the way.



Young women who attended the first Big Sister Session on 30 January 2021


At the second session, Creating Social Impact, we had Amanda Chong (Public Service / Readable), Kai Ning Lim (Unilever / CareerSocius), Kay Liew (Accenture / Tech for She), Kanitha Jagatheson (Montfort Care / Beautiful People), and Nithya Karthikeyan (Deloitte Consulting / YWLC), who are big advocates of social impact. They shared insights and learning experience on how they merged their careers and passion, as well as finding time to advocate for their causes outside working hours.



All smiles during the second Big Sister Session on 6 February 2021



Here are a couple of key takeaway points we gathered from both sessions:



MAKING THAT SWITCH


How do you know whether you should make a career transition? What are the best practices when landing your first job?


Build the Right Connections Connections help open doors and opportunities for desired positions that may not be known openly. Connections take time to build up, and the earlier you start the better! A direct way is to apply for stints in your desired industry. With one foot in the right industry, learn how everything runs and start building your networks from the inside. Remember that with any form of relationship, connection or networking, it starts with sincerity and curiosity. Be sincere about wanting to know a person, and curious in understanding a process or culture.


Beyond your job scope, take the initiative to invite colleagues beyond your team for coffee to chat on specific topics that help broaden your knowledge regarding the company and industry. Be mindful to respect their time, keep it short and end the session once the time is up. Make full use of all the time meeting by coming up with an agenda and doing your homework.


Be Clear with the Role You Want Finding a role which aligns with your goal is hard but allows greater job fulfilment. Applying to and accepting positions without clear knowledge of what it entails could end up wasting your time and further away from your goal to gain relevant experience. Use LinkedIn to find out what people with similar job scopes do, approach them if you wish to know more or attending relevant networking events to find out more. These simple steps will prevent you from doing something misaligned with your goals, and allow you to focus on your goals.


As you start exploring and navigating your career choices, note what gives you energy, what drains you, and why. This helps you design the life you want. Understanding yourself also means societal pressures would not affect your choices.


Make the Most of Your Experiences Start your career journey on a good note! Being a team player and practising good communication never goes out of fashion, as well as always staying aligned with your team’s goals. Always bring a good attitude to work. It is normal to make some mistakes but how you react to them is important. When a mistake occurs, admit to it and reach out for possible solutions for quick resolution or loop in more experienced team members for help. Be constructive about solving the problem and offer solutions.


People will remember how well your attitude and performance at work - good performance will mean you are able to ask for good referrals from your managers or partners after each stint and as a career spans many years, paths may cross again in the future and help you with expanding your network or offer you future opportunities.


Navigating New Workplace Environments As someone new in your career journey, you might find it tricky to navigate workplace relations on top of adapting to the workload. Try to take a neutral stance and stay objective when you first join a new team. Being professional regardless of situation can never go wrong. Take time to observe and get a sense of the culture and which colleagues you can learn the best skills and useful experiences from.



CREATING SOCIAL IMPACT

How do you know which cause is most aligned to you? What can you do to start bringing your changemaking initiatives to life?


Begin with a Vision Before embarking on any social cause, think about your end goal and what you want to achieve. Find out what is important to you and why it matters. This will provide you with a clear sense of purpose that will guide you. Consider using the concept of ikigai, a Japanese concept to guide you towards finding your direction or purpose in life. With this vision, when the going gets tough, you would always be able to return to your vision and remember why you started.


Once you have a vision, the intrinsic motivation that comes with that would energise you to pursue your goal wholeheartedly.


Manage your Time Juggling between a day job and side hustle with only 24 hours in a day enables one to learn the importance of prioritising. Find a method that works for you - for instance, you might need to list down all that needs to be done along with their respective deadlines, before starting on the most pressing tasks. Build credibility with your bosses by demonstrating that the quality of your work is not affected by your side hustle.

Finish the more important tasks first before tackling the rest, and make sure to carve out time for yourself to rest and recharge.


Assemble a Team No (wo)man is an island, and regardless of how much you think you are a superhero, we are all only human. In order to fulfil your vision, you would need a team of like-minded, passionate individuals each equipped with different strengths - everyone has something that they can bring to the table. Dealing with others also brings about a different set of challenges, but through these interactions, each team member learns how to work with people from different backgrounds.


At the end of each season, regroup, and assess the team’s progress. You can then strategically plan for the next initiative.


Most importantly, remember that your life and career is like a marathon. It is important to have enough rest and to be in a community that would encourage and cheer you on while you continue to work towards your purpose. Take time to enjoy the little things in life too!



Organising Committee: Recruitment Organising Team: Yvonne Mak, Eliza Ho, Eileen Teoh, Teng Yitong, Deborah Hendricks, Samantha Halim, A Vigneswari Author: Dorothy Siok Editors: Joaquim Tan, Kristin Loo


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