As I write this, I just got back from a full day volunteering at Day X, as a member of The Human Library.
Organized by The Astronauts’ Collective, the Lifelong Learning Institute of Singapore, and SkillsFuture Singapore, “Day X,” or a day of exploration, is envisioned to be a fun and accessible opportunity for youths to explore the world of work. The idea of a “day” is to encourage youths (and other related stakeholders) to “take a day” off from everyday preoccupations, to explore and better understand what they may find interesting, or even meaningful, to undertake as a possible career.
As part of Day X, the Human Library session provides a cosy and unintimidating setting for participants to choose to “read” from a wide collection of more than 50 human books at any one sitting. Each human book is a volunteer professional from a particular field, whom the participants could interact with to find out more about that particular profession.
I really enjoyed speaking to the group of mostly secondary and Junior College students about my job. It was particularly interesting trying to explain my job while avoiding the usual industry jargon and contextualizing things for students who have yet to experience the working world. An excellent exercise, IMHO.
I especially appreciated the thoughtful questions about my job, although it was fascinating to see the mix of curiosity and trepidation. More than a few students felt they needed a “fixed” answer to navigate their careers. It was as if they were looking for that guaranteed path; three steps to getting the right courses, to get the right education, and end up with the right job. There were such specific questions, for example: “Which specific courses should I take to get a job like yours?” or “Should I go through Junior College or Polytechnic if I want this job?”
I also gained a newfound appreciation for teachers and lecturers; it’s quite the challenge saying the same thing over and over again, while maintaining enthusiasm and making sure you’re getting through to the students! Teens can be quite challenging to reach.
My favourite anecdote of the day came from when I shared what it meant to build and defend a company’s reputation using various communications channels, to which this one student remarked,
“So, it’s like propaganda?”
Yes, dearie – exactly like that.
Many thanks to my friend, Grace Yeoh, for inviting me to this.