Eunice is currently working in a start-up in Shanghai in the smart data and real estate investment field. Her official title at work is Strategic Marketing Analyst, but she can be caught dabbling in accounts, operations, data and analysis, even human resources (HR) – something she embraces as part and parcel of start-up life.
Eunice originally matriculated in the Class of 2016 at the NUS Faculty of Law, but delayed her graduation by a year, spending that time in Shanghai on the NUS Overseas Colleges Programme.
This letter is addressed to Eunice’s younger self in her final semester of law school – feeling torn about not applying for a training contract.
The Last Exam of your 16 years of formal education looms. Walking a tightrope between Hope and Anxiety, you gingerly stretch your arms out beside you. The reality of your decision hits, and you need a moment to catch your breath.
Some days you wobble towards Anxiety – Not applying for a training contract, Not getting called to the bar, Wasting your degree, Disappointing your parents, Jeopardizing a career – You feel your chest constricting, your palms sweating, your stomach churning. You wonder whether you should have taken the conventional path, the safe path laid out ahead. Stay in Singapore, get called, go into practice and take it from there.
Other days you look to Hope – The world’s your oyster, New industries to explore, Your career to dream up, to create – You feel airborne, determined, and the picture of the person you want to be takes shape.
Apart from self-imposed doubt, you’re also facing pressure from family and friends, even acquaintances. Many encourage you to undergo training and get called before making any Rash Decisions. Many are unable to comprehend the risk you’re taking. In the face of their experience and concern, your voice may waver, your confidence and conviction may shake. You’re one foot in the air, arms swinging wildly, dangerously close to tipping off the tightrope into Anxiety’s Abyss.
You must convince yourself before you can convince others. Evaluate why exactly you’re doing this, what you know about your strengths and weaknesses, and how your experiences have molded you. Think about the role you envision yourself playing in society and role you’d like to play in relation to the people you love. Let them guide you in your next steps.
Some tips, in case you need a nudge:
Remember your year in Shanghai interning and being immersed in the start-up scene, exploring a wonderful city full of contradictions and charms? How it has moved you? Changed you? Hold onto that. In that year, you saw the distance between who you are, and who you want to be – when the time comes that calls for it, be bold; be brave enough to take the plunge to close the gap.
Dare to dream, but also be practical. Every new experience is a learning opportunity, but do weigh them against your survival (that tuition fee loan isn’t going to pay itself). Hold on tight to your self-worth and stand your ground. Never let others trample on you for your lack of experience, age or gender. Leverage upon your education, legal or otherwise. You will never have Wasted Your Degree if you still draw upon your experiences to make inferences, form conclusions and deliver your insights.
Do, however, recognise the holes in your knowledge and seek ways to fill them – Books, people, courses, they are all available if only you reach out. A word of caution: Just as in law school, you’ll realise that the more you learn, the more there is to learn. Cultivate an addiction to learning, and embrace it when it kicks in. I have a feeling the Eunice in 10 years will thank us for it.
The end of university only marks the start of a lifetime in the school of life – and schooled you will be, both in your professional and your personal life. You will be confronted with situations that force you to rethink everything you know about family, love and home. If you ever end up setting up shop in another corner of the world – a possibility you’re considering, I know – remember that home is defined by people too.
You will chart your own course, a path relatively less travelled amongst your peers. We don’t how that story will pan out yet, we’re still in the midst of it. There’s a lot to look forward to, so take heart! The upcoming job hunt will be stressful, exhausting your emotional tank as you search for a crevice that fits you. Not perfectly, such that you lay comfortably within, but filled with enough sharp edges to allow you to grow and change for the better.
Hold on to the Hope that it will be worth it. Because, yes it will be.
Be brave. I’ll be rooting for you.
All my love,
p.s. If anyone’s feeling as torn as I was when considering your future career, find a listening ear at email@example.com.