18.35 Activism - Young Activists
The Compassionate and Nurturing Counsellor
In this installment of our Career Guide, we interviewed Chua Sze Siong, a School Counsellor.

The misconception today is that children are harder to manage, however Sze Siong would beg to differ. For him, kids are not to blame for their behaviour. He reiterated that these kids grew up in an era where the Internet and social media play a major role in shaping their identity and behaviours, with distractions which were non-existent in other generations.

A civil servant throughout his life, Sze Siong started out as a Chinese Teacher back in 2010 and transited to become a School Counsellor from 2017 as he believes that being a School Counsellor would allow him to be in a better position to understand these kids, and offer them advice and motivations for them to excel in their chosen fields.

Sze Siong also had a brief stint as an Addiction Counsellor at Halfway House, where he was able to meet and worked closely with different addicts from all walks of life. There were young ones from 18 years old, till adults that were about 60 years old. Sze Siong shared that being a Counsellor there have opened his eyes to real struggles that people go through as they share the often-untold reasons behind why they succumb to these harmful habits.

In 2016, Sze Siong took up the opportunity to become a Career Guide at Young NTUC as his passion for motivating and encouraging people to take a step forward to pursue their dream job kept growing beyond the school setting.

Still, it wasn't an overnight decision to make, and he had to consider a number of factors. After all, he was already a Student Counsellor from 8am to 5pm, and taking an after-work Career Guide role seems to make his life revolves around counseling.

However, for someone who is dedicated to helping others, Sze Siong chose to be a part of the team. He shares that, contrary to his initial thought, a Career Guide largely revolves around mentoring instead of counselling! As a Career Guide, instead of problem solving, he gets to offer different perspectives to the mentees that can help them achieve their dream jobs.

Success Stories

Through these 4 years, Sze Siong gets the feeling of accomplishment whenever he helped someone to make a successful transition. Without much of a surprise, one of them even nominated him for the Star Guide Award for the impact that he has made in the person's life.

Some of the success stories that Sze Siong shared included a high-ranking Human Resource Officer who came to him, pondering whether she should switch her career to the Early Childhood sector. Instead of advising, Sze Siong redirected and asked her, what will happen if she decides to switch to the industry, in which the person responded, "I think I'll be happy."

Sze Siong also helped a particular mentee to get started on her dreams to start a non-profit organization Therapy School to help adults learn.

Common Issues Faced by the Mentees

One of the common denominators faced by most mentees is the anxiety they get when they switch careers, since they are not sure what to expect. Sze Siong often get questions such as, “Will they accept me or will the job be suitable for me?”

Biggest Takeaways from the Mentees

There are several takeaways that Sze Siong got from his mentees. First, no matter how old we grow or which part of the career we have progressed, it is important to be curious and be willing to explore. Noting that, everyone shouldn’t live in a cave and should see the world for what it is.

Also, interactions with people help one to grow further. It opens your perspective to the world as everyone brings their own experiences to the table.

Sze Siong also sees himself maturing during his four years of being a Career Guide. At the start, he was afraid that his responses will stir dislike from the mentees. However, now he learnt the importance of honest feedback, and he provides genuine advice in a way that would help the mentees. This shift also made Sze Siong to become a happier person as well.

Advice for Trying Times

Truth is, there will always be trying times. However, difficult times are where opportunities can thrive. It’s the perfect time to learn about yourself and identify your strengths and weaknesses. You can also reach out to others and establish good relationships. When these two things are met, opportunities will certainly come. Remember, we are responsible for these opportunities.

After a long day, don't forget to appreciate yourself for giving your best shot. A great technique Sze Siong shared includes, putting yourself on 'airplane mode' where you just sit down, be in the moment and unwind. Alternatively, if you are a chatter box, you can also talk it out!

For an introvert, he recommends having a journal if talking to someone seems to be a challenge. In your journal, you can answer the following:
  • What have you done well today?
  • What do you think you can do better?
  • What do you think you have done your best about?