Here are some perspectives from angel investors, HR experts and polytechnic lecturers – who are parents themselves.
1. Don’t just climb up, climb sideways
Many think of success as a ladder to the top. But your journey could go sideways, if you have transferable skills! That’s how Ms Ginette Chittick has gone from rock musician to running the fashion diploma course at LASALLE. She advises her students: “You may not get the job that you want in the industry, or you may not be interested in the job you’re studying for. But you can move sideways.”
2. Get noticed through networking
Want to land a job? Don’t just blast out resumes to dozens of employers; go out and actually meet them – at networking events, recruitment fairs, and trade shows. That’s how marketing man Mr Imran Johri “beat the numbers game” of job-hunting. He’s had 12 jobs, 11 of which came through people he’d met before. “Be shameless when it comes to your own success, because no one else will do it for you.”
3. Cultivate a sense of fearlessness
Mr Moh Hon Meng, co-founder of iFAST Corporation, wants his two sons to be fearless. Not reckless, but unafraid to fail. And why is failure important? The serial entrepreneur says: “I’m never going to hire the guy who has never failed, because his first failure is likely to be with me.”
4. Helping others also helps yourself
How do you motivate someone whose life has been nothing but horrible? Oncology product specialist Mr Christian Eber organised a group of at-risk students to educate other families on climate change and electricity conservation. He tells them, “You may think you have it bad, but you are sharing all you know with all these people. Don’t let them down. They need you.” That sense of purpose was exactly what those students needed.
5. Take calculated risks
Nothing ventured, nothing gained—but some students (and parents) refuse to take risks. So, communications lecturer Ms Crispina Robert gets them to talk to strangers and shoot videos in Geylang, taking them out of their comfort zones. “I explain to their parents that because they are willing to let their kids do these things, they will learn that taking risks may not be as bad as they thought.”
6. Keep reading, keep learning
There’s a good reason we need to keep learning even after we leave school: we’re living longer than before. “The idea that what you learn at 25 will be sufficient for you to work 40 or 50 years, is a gross miscalculation,” says Mr David Toh, Chief Technology Officer of NTU’s business incubator NTUitive. He continues to take courses to update his knowledge about robotics and programming to support his current work. He believes it’s a habit best developed from childhood: “It is only from healthy reading habits, that constant yearning for reading, that you develop the skill to continuously upgrade your knowledge for the rest of your life.”
A version of this article was first published in Issue 31 of “Contact: The Teachers’ Digest” with the headline “From Parents to Parents: Six Things We Learnt”.