The Road Ahead- Beginning with a Dream (Part 1)

Hey there Eunoians,

This is Origin*’s first month and as you all probably know by now, the topic of the month is, “Beginnings”. As I was pondering over my choice of topic, I suddenly remembered the first line of the school song:

Beginning with a dream

The situation that many of us faced with flashed through my mind:

  1. We are all studying in EJC
  2. We are taking our A-levels next year
  3. Most of us are probably going to university after that
  4. Even if we choose not to go to university after our A-levels, the college is inevitably going to kick us out which would mean that we have to find stuff to do

This then led me to come up with the idea to write about our ‘dreams’- what we plan to do after our A-levels.

Hopefully in the future, we will be able to continue this series with more posts about the (possibly) wonderful life after JC.

Well, before we can even do anything to achieve our dreams, we must first determine exactly what our dream is (which is the purpose of this post).

Some of us might already have dreams that we are actively trying to pursue. Perhaps we want to win that coveted PSC scholarship and study in a prestigious overseas university. Maybe it’s not so much about the university but rather it’s about the course of study we intend to take.

Some of us are still undecided at this point of time. Maybe we don’t know what path we want to take in the future. Maybe we are in the process of deciding between a few options.

I interviewed 2 of the Origin* team members and this is what they had to say:

Interviewee 1: Grace Yeh (aka The Boss)

R will refer to myself (Rin) and G will refer to Grace

R: So what do you wanna do after A levels?

G: Okay so after ‘A’ Levels, I will probably start to look for universities that I can possibly apply to. If I still don’t know what I want to do, I might take a gap year or something, then maybe go and explore the different kinds of jobs I can take. I might go to Australia, maybe even the US and go and tour around the universities and see which one, you know, fits.

R: Is there any specific (career) field that you wish to enter at this current point of time?

G: Right now I’m leaning more towards the medical field but I’m still keeping my options open!

R: Have you considered any other fields that you might possibly enter?

G: I’ve also considered research, pharmaceuticals. (These fields are) still very related to medicine. Actually I also wanted to be a ballerina at one point in life hahaha…

R: How did you make the decision to pursue medicine in the future?

G: I’ve been to this medicine internship overseas in Nepal which allowed us to go and visit a Third-World country’s hospital to like walk around, look at the files, shadow the doctors… Even though it was a third world country and it was probably like the rawest of the raw, I still enjoyed it and it allowed me to know that even though I’m seeing probably the least developed form of medicine, this is still what I want to do.

R: So it was more of an experience that led you to think about (choosing medicine)? Or was it something that you’ve always been thinking about?

G: It was definitely something that I’ve always been pondering about, but my decision was, you could say “catalysed” by this trip.

Experiences are one way that we can figure out what we want to do. So if you’re unsure about what you want to do in the future at this point of time, one way to figure things out would be to go out there and try out different things.

Going out there and experiencing different things can help you decide whether something that you’ve been thinking about is something that you really want to do. After all, we’re just a bunch of students and we really don’t know what the “real world” is like.

Speaking from personal experience, going through internships and other industry related activities has made me change my goals several times in the past few years. I think that we all tend to think that we know how a specific job/career path is like. However, it is important to realise that every job/field is very complex and that there is bound to be some misconception that we have about that job/field. Hence, going for an internship can really give you a lot more insight into the job/field that you are interested in.

You may want to consider looking for internship/externship opportunities for you to participate in during the end of year holidays. Do remember to contact the organisations in advance to ensure that your work attachment goes smoothly. You may also consider applying through the school through our Internship and Externship Programme.

Let’s move on to the next interview!

Interviewee 2: Cindy Yu

Once again, R will refer to myself, C will refer to Cindy

R:What are your career aspirations at this point in time?

C: I want to go into product development. I want to go into something along the lines of engineering because that’s what my dad did and it kind of influenced me and my choice of career. I guess part of the reason is also because I want to make people’s lives more convenient through the innovation and creation of more useful products using new technology. I haven’t thought about what company I wish to work for in the future, I just know that I want to do engineering in uni and hopefully with whatever degree I have, I can pursue product development as a career. There’s a wide range of degrees which will allow you to go into product development , you can have a degree in design, architecture or even mechanical engineering.

R: In what ways did your father influence your decision to go with engineering?

C: I kind of grew up fixing stuff, when my toys broke I’ll ask my dad to help me fix it and he’ll teach me how to use all the tools. I remember at some point in time I had my own toolbox which I didn’t use much. He also taught me how to make stuff, he made some furniture around the house, he made a foldable table for me, he made the shelves, he was always trying to improve our surroundings by making it more convenient.

R: Apart from your dad, what else pushed you towards engineering?

C: I see all the products in the markets, like the interesting and cool Japanese products and when I scroll through Facebook there are also posts about new products that are coming up. For example, the wallet created by NUS students that will sort out the notes and coins automatically when you put them in. There’s also the shoes with replaceable soles where you can just change the soles which wear out easily without having to buy a new pair. It’s an environmentally friendly product which encourages waste minimisation. Waste reduction is something that I value a lot and want to work on so going into product development  and engineering is a channel for me to realise my ideas.

R: What are your backup plans?

C: I thought about other careers I wish to go into but they’re not exactly backup plans, just an alternative if I suddenly realise that product development is not the thing for me.

Another way that we can try to figure out what we want to do in the future is to look to other people for inspiration. Talk to the people around you and find out more about what they like. Perhaps you might find something that resonates with you.

You may also want to think examine your values and decide what is important to you. Different jobs are important for different reasons. If there is a cause that matters to you a lot (e.g. Education, Health, National Defence) you may want to think about what jobs will help you make a difference in that area of society. It is important to find a path that you find fulfilling for you may potentially end up being in that specific career for a large portion of your life.

I also think that it’s important for us to consider alternatives. Life doesn’t always go as we want it to go and we always want to be prepared for such a situation. Even if you think that you can easily enter your preferred industry, you may still want to consider alternatives. We make decisions based on our knowledge at the time we make the decision. However, our knowledge is only limited to our experiences. Hence, it is possible (I daresay even likely) that there are things that we would actually love doing that we haven’t discovered. Therefore, we need to think about alternatives to even have any chance of discovering other things that we love.

I hope that this post helps you in figuring out what you want to do with your life after the A-levels. If you only gain 1 thing from this entire 1623 word post, I hope that you start seriously thinking about your future and most importantly, start having meaningful conversations about the subject. You still have quite a fair bit of time before you have to make a real decision about what you want to do after the A-levels but what you do now may impact your options in the future. So work hard, play hard and dream hard.


Photo by Jaime Handley on Unsplash

Letting Go of a Hobby

Hey, remember those piano lessons you took when you were 6, then stopped after 3 years? Remember how passionate you were about it at that time, how much you wanted your fingers to dance across the keys just like the pianist you saw on stage? Or perhaps you were a swimmer, spending 4-5 hours every week in the pool. Over the years, the few hours were reduced to just 2 hours a week and eventually none at all. I’m sure this situation is relatable to many of you. We have all, at some point in our lives, quit doing what we have always been doing, breaking the regularity that had bound us down.

The sad truth is conventional wisdom has it that our greatest weakness lies in giving up, that we should never quit but instead persevere because of the benefits we will reap in the future. However, there are many reasons as to why one will give up a hobby, some of these reasons can disprove the claim that giving up is always negative.

One reason you picked up that hobby might be due to pressure from your parents or it may be due to impulse. Subsequently, you realised that it is not the thing for you, the initial excitement and passion cool off, the constant repetition has become a bore and you’re just continuing it for the sake of it. At this point, these signs should serve as warning for what is about to come. Perhaps it would be best to give it up and pursue something else you would be happier doing, an activity that you truly find delight in. In this case, quitting is a necessary first step to rebooting and redefining your goals and knowing what you want from life.

After years of learning and practice, you may feel that you have fulfilled yourself and no longer want to maintain the hobby. Perhaps you have achieved a diploma for piano, you can converse in Japanese, you you’ve received three stars in kayaking. Depending on the individual, we each have a different goal in mind, some may be more ambitious and others may be more realistic, either way, once we have reached a certain level, we will evaluate the option of further developing our skills. Of course, there is no harm in sharpening and refining our current skills if we are sure of our interests, however, there is also nothing wrong with remaining at the same level. Suppose all we wanted was to learn a basic skill, it is alright to stop and pick up another interest after reaching our goal. Who knows, you may go back to it a few years down the road, reviving the passion you once had.

The harsh reality is, our society stigmatizes people who give up. Quitting is seen as weak, as a lack of passion or as personal failure. In my opinion, cultivating the ability to quit frees us from the hopeless pursuit of the unattainable, and gives us the opportunity to commit to new, satisfying goals. No, I am not encouraging you to give up your current hobbies, but it is always good to stop and reflect on what we truly want, whether we see ourselves still enjoying the same activity ten, twenty years down the road. There should be zero shame in giving up a fight you can’t win or in dropping a goal that no longer applies to you. I truly hope that you will occasionally reevaluate what you’re doing, know why you do what you do and most importantly, follow your heart when deciding the next step.