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Pay-It-Forward Mentorship: Mentorship is a Two-Way Street

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

Have you ever wondered what the Pay-It-Forward (PIF) Mentorship programme is like? Let’s hear from a pair from PIF 2021!

Our mentor-mentee pair from PIF 2021, Koh Wern Chieh (left) and Tan Wan Ni (right)

1. What did mentorship mean to you, before you joined the program?

Wan Ni (Mentee): Before I joined the program, mentorship meant the relationship/connection that was built between a senior individual who had more experienced and could provide guidance and support by sharing experiences and knowledge to a junior in a field or common interest for both parties.

Wern Chieh (Mentor): I had the privilege of joining YWLC Mentorship Programme and was paired as a mentee to MOS Gan Siow Huang in 2020. That experience greatly shaped my perspective and view on mentorship.

Mentorship, to me, means being in a position where you can share your valued learnings and perspectives which you earned through (sometimes painful but necessary) experiences. And while mentors do not have the solutions to all problems, in their own way still, their life experiences can help someone make better decisions in theirs.

2. As a mentee, what do you think is key to getting the most from the mentorship programme?

Wan Ni (Mentee): The key to getting the most from the mentorship programme would be staying open, being patient, having trust and never being afraid to share. As time passes, we gradually attain a deeper and better understanding of each other, which makes the conversations better catered to the mentee's needs. The exchanges are also sincere and real. Throughout the mentorship programme, I shared my worries and concerns, which went beyond just work and studies, to Wern Chieh. She guided me by sharing her own experiences or thoughts, which aided me in organising my thoughts. As such, I look at issues from a wider perspective with new considerations, before making up my mind. With Wern Chieh as my mentor, I have benefitted and learnt a lot from her and have gained another adult figure whom I can rely and depend on.

3. As a mentor, what do you think is key to getting the most from the mentorship programme?

Wern Chieh (Mentor): To come in with an open mind and be open to hearing new perspectives and new decision making frameworks/ values. As all of us experience different events in life, each of us has our own unique way of perceiving the world and priorities in life. It is important for mentors to remember we do not have all the answers and solutions and to let our mentees make their own decisions. We can share what works for us but acknowledge that we are just one person and that our experience is unique to us.

To me, being a mentor is not about instructing or giving specific guidance to what a mentee should or should not do. I wish to be a friend who walks along the path with her, ensuring that she is aware of all the options available to her but never to direct her choices.

4. If you could sum up your experience, what are your main takeaways from the mentorship programme?

Wan Ni (Mentee): Having Wern Chieh as not only my mentor, but also a close friend, as well as an older sister of mine which I do not have since I am a single child. Through our conversations, we have grown closer and comfortable with each other. Even though it may not be as frequent, we are still checking in on each other from time to time as we understand and respect that the other party may be busy. This also makes our friendship even more special, as I call it the "Low Maintenance Friendship", where neither of the parties demands any attention or expectations but you'll have meaningful meetups every once in a while.

Wern Chieh (Mentor): That mentorship is not just a one way transmission of info, it is a two way street. Hopefully, I have value-added to Wan Ni’s experience as much as I have learnt from her!

It was also really refreshing to hang out with young girls, to understand the youth landscape better and to know what piques and inspires them. I am constantly inspired by the youthfulness, vibrancy of their generation and am excited for what lies ahead for them.

5. What’s the most fun / impactful activity you did together?

Wan Ni (Mentee): Our first and only physical meetup for lunch as there is indeed no better ice breaker than food! We were able to bond over our lunch catch-up of 2-3 hours, sharing many interesting topics, from our life stories to the excitement and worries we felt as we embarked on the new journeys in our different stages of life. We hit it off easily with our personalities and horoscopes being quite a good match. Initially, we made plans to meet up more and to explore activities that can be done together.

Unfortunately, the uncertainty of the pandemic during the period of the mentorship programme, as well as school and work respectively for us on weekdays and personal commitments on weekends made it difficult to coordinate a date and time. Recently, we were just talking about catching up in person and I believe it won't be too far away till then on top with the recent announcement of safe management measures easing in Singapore.

Wern Chieh (Mentor): Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we were not able to catch each other face-to-face as frequently and freely as we like.

However, I enjoy the frequent conversations we have over Whatsapp, catching up on life and constantly updating each other on what’s going on currently. I moved to a new company at the same time Wan Ni was starting her part-time job before entering university, and it was fun spending 2-3 hours just chatting about work dynamics and navigating corporate culture at our new places, while sharing a good lunch together! :)


Since 2017, YWLC has spearheaded a mentorship programme for female student leaders from less privileged backgrounds to support them to achieve the fullest of their potential. Our mentees come from all disciplines and have shown outstanding resilience in their achievements despite their personal difficulties. As mentors, you'd have the opportunity to guide them in their journey - as a sounding board, a role model, and a big sister. Come join us as a mentor and empower female leaders of the next generation! Applications for this cycle's PIF Mentorship Programme close on Monday, 4 April 2022.


YWLC’s PIF Mentorship Programme is a 6-month mentorship programme in partnership with the International Women’s Forum (IWF) and ITE College Central. YWLC members mentor budding young adults from IWF and ITE that are driven to learn. Mentor-mentee pairs from this programme consistently learn and bring out the best from each other.


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Organising Committee: Social Impact Interviewer: Audrey Tim Interviewees: Koh Wern Chieh, Tan Wan Ni Editors: Chua Khai Shing, Joey Ong


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