Written by Nurul Nabilah, YouthTech Trainee, Bold At Work
Note: The views expressed in this article are the writer's own and do not represent that of Young NTUC.
Being successful is an aspiration that many have, with some even setting a time limit for when they must achieve it. An indication of it can be in terms of accumulating a lot of wealth and being of a high status in society. It can also be in the form of one simply excelling at what they do for a living and being content with the tasks that they set out to do everyday. Others might simply view being successful as a means of having a large influence and following, in the social aspect of life.
How can one go about achieving it, is the big question.
When I first came across the profile of Miss Janelle Lee, a young entrepreneur who had co-founded a local social enterprise at the mere age of 23, I found myself captivated by her story and set out to conduct an interview with her.
To start with, the brainchild of her and 3 of her University mates, bantu, creates IT solutions for non-profit organizations in Singapore and in Southeast Asia. These include building volunteer management systems for local charities, and creating websites on an ad-hoc basis. Additionally, bantu provides digital skills trainings for charities, which surged in demand as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While Janelle’s primary role at bantu consists of designing products and implementing UI/UX features for the tech products that her team builds, she is also the person-in-charge of Human Resource matters and manages the internal operations of the entire organization, in addition to leading the marketing team and conducting some of the trainings herself. With the array of skills that she has and the tasks that she juggles, it is no wonder then, that she has been recognized in a number of honorable lists, including The Straits Times’ ‘30 and under Young Singaporeans to Watch’ in 2020.
Ironically, during the interview, Janelle brought up that she had not initially set out to make a name for herself. On this, she said, “I think that being featured and getting all these accolades and awards is a by-product of passion and being different.”
True to her words, as I was digging a little deeper into her background after the interview, I found out that she started doing commissioned work at the age of 16 and it all stemmed from her love for designing, or more specifically, designing websites and digital products.
On her personal website, I came across these words of wisdom from her, “I believe that design can be beautiful and humanistic in any product no matter its complexity.”
Perhaps, it was this belief that spurred Janelle to take on the opportunities she was presented with and thus, led her to where she is now.
Indeed, the notion of not putting too much emphasis on being successful appeals to me. In the past, I had thought too much about how I was going to be a renowned writer or blogger by the time I was 24, or having a full-time job that I enjoyed before I reached 25. Yet, when those plans failed, I was sorely disappointed both in myself and in life, and started entertaining thoughts of giving up and just settling for an average job that would help to pay my bills. Therefore, Janelle’s words resonated with me in the sense that perhaps, I had put too much hope into achieving success at a young age when in fact, I should have been content with going at my own pace and not rushing to get there.
As I probed further, I uncovered another trait of Janelle’s that positioned her well for her ‘success’ today.
Janelle relayed to me her observation that Singaporean youths tend to hold themselves back from going forward due to the fear of things not working out in the end. I do observe the same phenomenon, where They young persons like myself tend to calculate every single aspect of each opportunity that we get, like the risks that we have to take and sacrifices that we have to make, despite the numerous safety nets that have been laid out for us.
“Being able to identify the right opportunity and going for it, and having decision fatigue to make a choice is a common pattern that I see in a lot of youths nowadays,” she said.
I cannot deny that this also spoke a lot to me as I can be considered a part of the group that she was referring to. It got me thinking about how it will take me a long time to get to where I desire to be, all because it takes me a long time to take the first step forward.
“People tend to think that their decisions last forever when in fact, when we make a decision and it turns out to be a poor one, we can redraw, most of the time with little consequences.”
To conclude, it is never too early or too late for success. Ironically, success might come into view just as we ‘forget’ about seeking it, as we focus on polishing up our own skills in the direction of our beliefs, staying open to every opportunity as they come our way.
Bold At Work is an innovation studio lab working with youths and young adults in career design. Young NTUC has been partnering Bold since 2019, to bring new and experiential ways of exploring the future, to our audiences. Bold has brought its career training to our career guides, and most recently, Bold popped up with its career archetype quiz for the NTUC Youth Taskforce! Read more from Bold At Work here.