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Pay-it-Forward Mentorship Programme 2023: Human Library

On 15th July 2023, YWLC’s Pay-it-Forward (PIF) Mentorship Programme welcomed our more than 60 mentors and mentees to a captivating “Human Library” event. Thanks to the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the 2022 run, this year’s organising team brought it back as a feature in this year’s PIF programme!

Thanks to our long-term partner EY, we had a beautiful venue where PIF’23 participants could breakout into different rooms were to browse ten different “books”, discuss life journeys and pathways and share stories with each other. The Human Library is a concept where we invite “books” which participants can “borrow” as “readers”, and readers have the opportunity to listen and interact with them to learn about their stories first-hand. This year, we curated books from a diverse range of backgrounds and careers.

YWLC PIF2023 Organising Committee with a few of our Human Library books

Bottom (L to R): Tay Shi Pei, Samantha Lim, Joanne Ong, Keerthana Janmugam, Valery Tan, Nicolette Tan, Amelia, Audrey Tim, Natalie, Vigneswari A

Top (L to R): Maeve Woh, Sumathi Rajagopal, Attiya Ashraf Ali, Nurul Qistina Fadhillah, Chelsea Yap, Reena Rajamohan

In the fast-paced three rounds of sharing, each “book” provided a short introduction of themselves before fielding questions from each small round. From these conversations, common threads around career exploration emerged:

1. Taking the path less travelled

Yu Shi, who dialed in from the US, shared that her moving to California and working in a high growth startup was a scary decision, but one that she doesn’t regret. Rachel also pivoted in her career through different sectors – banking, government and is now in tech. Reena also shared that she had to navigate the challenges of a male-dominated workplace, and that saying “yes” to different opportunities helped her live life to the fullest.

2. Finding and building purpose in one’s work

Attiya, a Senior Consultant at EY, shared about how her work as a sustainability and social impact consultant influences her leadership role in the non-profit community. Qistina, also echoed the idea of finding a job that aligned with her personal values. Her experiences growing up made her passionate about issues of inequality, which led her to her work as a social worker with SHINE Children & Youth Services. Petrina also spoke about how her life-altering diagnosis at a young age changed her perspectives on life, and how this journey through recovery played a big part in her role as a kindergarten educator. Sumathi also shared about reframing failure and how each failure propelled her in a new direction, to reflect and connect the dots towards her role as a psychologist today.

3. Developing professional opportunities from passion projects

Samantha inspired the girls with her founding journey with Seastainable, and how she now juggles this with her corporate sustainability role at Electrolux. Maeve spoke with a lot of passion about how she has relentlessly pursued what sets her soul on fire, in both her full-time role and with her startup. Chelsea found her role in tech marketing after a process of discovery, which involved seven different internships. Today she is passionate about mentoring other youth and pays it forward by starting a community providing career guidance/mentorship to tertiary students.

In closing reflections, mentees shared that they had learned a lot from the books, and many expressed interest in following up with our invited guests. Some mentors had come out in support of their mentees but were also surprised to find that they had taken away new insights from the event as well!

Everyone has a story to tell, a lesson to teach and wisdom to share. We hope the Human Library event sparked new possibilities for everyone.

Upcoming PIF events and PIF’2024 Organising Committee Recruitment

In October, PIF’2023 will come to a close for the year. The Social Impact Sub-Committee will kickstart preparations for PIF 2024 in late 2023/ early 2024 and we are always looking at new ways to improve the programme. If you are a YWLC member who is interested in organising next year’s run, do get in touch with us at


YWLC’s PIF Mentorship Programme is a 6-month mentorship programme in partnership with IWF and ITE. YWLC members mentor young women from IWF and ITE, and mentor-mentee pairs learn together and bring out the best in each other. For queries about the programme and YWLC’s Social Impact Initiatives, email


Guest speakers: Maeve Woh, Sumathi Rajagopal, Attiya Ashraf Ali, Nurul Qistina Fadhillah, Chelsea Yap, Reena Rajamohan, Petrina Chia, Rachel Kuo, Samantha Thian, Yu Shi Fong

Organising Team: Audrey Tim, Vigneswari A, Nicolette Tan, Keerthana Janmugam, Joanne Ong, Tay Shi Pei, Valery Tan, Samantha Lim

Author: Nicolette Tan

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