Forget the 5Cs, young Singaporeans want to make a difference, create impact with their work, say TODAY webinar panellists

From left: CNA presenter Elizabeth Neo, TODAY reporter Justin Ong, entrepreneurs Kathy Xu and Rachel Lim at a webinar organised by TODAY. — TODAY pic
From left: CNA presenter Elizabeth Neo, TODAY reporter Justin Ong, entrepreneurs Kathy Xu and Rachel Lim at a webinar organised by TODAY. — TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, Dec 5 — Young Singaporeans are no longer aspiring for the “5C’s” of cash, car, credit card, condominium and country club membership that have come to define material success in Singapore.

Instead, they are opting for experiences and growth opportunities in their jobs instead, panellists said during a TODAY Live webinar on Friday (Dec 3).

Ms Rachel Lim, one of the speakers and co-founder of fashion brand Love, Bonito, said she had observed that young job interviewees were keen to make an impact in their jobs and did not “primarily work for salaries”.

“They want to be able to make a difference. They want to be able to have a seat at the table. They want to be able to be seen and be heard,” the 34-year-old said when responding to a question on whether young Singaporeans still value the 5Cs.

Sharing his own views as part of the panel, TODAY reporter Justin Ong, 27, said that young Singaporeans were looking for experiences and opportunities for growth in their jobs and were less focused on pay.

This explained why young members of the workforce are prepared to hop between different companies or even industries every two to three years to learn new skills, he said.

Workers from the older generation, on the other hand, prefer to stay in the same role and progress within the company, he added.

Friday’s webinar was streamed at 8pm on TODAY’s Instagram and TikTok accounts. The topic for the fourth and final instalment of this year’s webinar series was on how young Singaporeans are redefining success and priorities in life.

The event was moderated by CNA presenter Elizabeth Neo and also featured Ms Kathy Xu, 39, founder of eco-tourism company The Dorsal Effect.

Defining success

Both Ms Xu and Ms Lim said that they did not rely on material markers to determine their success.

Ms Xu said that when she started her company, her concern was to grow her business such that fishermen could have sustainable livelihoods for the long term.

Her company helps to provide fishermen with alternative sources of income, such as running boat tours of Indonesia’s Lombok island, so that they can stop hunting sharks.

Ms Lim said that her personal marker of success is feeling fulfilled and proud of her achievements.

Finding passion

The panellists also discussed the importance of finding passion in one’s work.

When young people were asked what were the most important factors in their working lives in the recent TODAY Youth Survey 2021, they listed having good colleagues or bosses, work-life balance and financial rewards as the top three factors.

Almost nine in 10 of the respondents indicated that these were either “important” or “very important”.

In comparison, good advancement prospects and a sense of purpose were the answers given by eight in 10 of the respondents.

Ms Neo asked the panel if this suggested that one’s passion is no longer an important factor when getting a job.

To this, Ms Lim said that passion is important, but it is not enough on its own.

It is “a very idealistic expectation” to think that one will succeed if they follow their passion, the entrepreneur added.

“There is a lot more to just following our passion. It is also the willingness to have the grit to follow through, or to persist when the going gets tough rather than just following your passion.”

Mr Ong said that some people are lucky to find their passion immediately, while others find theirs over time as they grow to love their jobs.

For instance, he said that he did not enjoy writing about certain topics when he first started off as a reporter two years ago but has come to do so now.

He also said that the Covid-19 pandemic may have led some people to choose pragmatism over pursuing their passion.

Certain industries, such as the arts sector, have not been doing well during the pandemic and this may have deterred some people from joining these sectors, he added.

Offering advice to those who are looking to find their passion, Ms Xu suggested that people expose themselves to all kinds of experiences, not to plan too far ahead in life and to “just feel things as they come by”.

“Once you hit that core of what you really love, it’s really within you and whatever you try to do in your life after that is always guided by that feeling in your bones,” she said. — TODAY

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