#HI2020: Life Lessons Worth Learning

Hindsight is 2020 (#HI2020) is a ground-up initiative founded and led by SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business Class of 2020 graduate Jessica Lee Yi Ling. In this series, she uncovers personal stories of resilience, courage, and love amidst the crazy year that was 2020. Through the reflections and learnings shared in #HI2020, she hopes to empower internship and job seekers to improve their status quos and encourage aspiring entrepreneurs and volunteers to pursue their passions in 2021.



By Jessica Lee, Alumna, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business

A year ago around this time (mid-2020), I “virtually” completed my final university semester—within the four walls of my own home. Many, including myself, remember how the Class of 2020 became the Class of Covid-19. In my view, which I believe is shared by many, the Class of 2021 is having it tough too and could use some encouragement.

With Academic Year 2020/21 coming to a close, it will soon be their turn to graduate. Yet, to-date, the ill-effects of Covid-19 still loom large and continue weighing on our economy.

Because we each have our own unique challenges, I do not presume to know what my juniors are experiencing despite having graduated amidst the pandemic myself. But the message I have for all my readers is still the same one I shared last year in Project Y to Z’s summary article on behalf of my team:


Regardless of what trials you are going through, stay resilient.


If you were dealt with a seemingly unfavourable set of cards in a game of UNO, would you immediately throw your hand in and call it quits? No, you’d still give yourself a chance and play the game. So, what’s stopping you from having the same mentality in approaching your life?


Life lessons that I hope you can use to improve your status quo

Dear Class of 2021, here are my little gifts to you; I can testify that these stories can help you in one way or another, as I had too reflected upon and applied the learnings to my personal life.


Building a Business with Benjamin Wong [Read Interview]

“Never lose sight of your mission in life.”


Investing in Oneself with Farid Mohammad [Read Interview]

“Invest in yourself, it pays the best dividends.”


Staying Hungry to Learn with Dilesh Kumar [Read Interview]

“The magic happens when you step outside your comfort zone.”


A Journey of Growth with Lee Chaehyun [Read Interview]

“To get ahead, you need to get started first.”


Follow Your Heart with Chan Huang Suan [Read Interview]

“The decisions you make today affect your tomorrow.”


Developing a Team with Yash Gadodia [Read Interview]

“A small group of determined and like-minded people have the power to make history.”


Contact Tracing with Shawn Pang [Read Interview]

“A mind is like a parachute—it functions only when it is open.”


Taking Flight with Sean Tan [Read Interview]

“Know the difference between success and fame.”


Going the Extra Mile with Melvin Ng [Read Interview]

“If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but never the goal.”


Bouncing Back Stronger with Anna Quang [Read Interview]

“Be thankful for the hard times, for they have made you.”


Making a Social Impact with Aaron Er [Read Interview]

“Look at what we have, and not just what we don’t have.”


Being Pawsome with Travis Tan [Read Interview]

“Action cures fear, inaction creates terror.”


One Bag at a Time with Jaslyn Quek and Victoria Neo [Read Interview]

“We can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone.”


And here are four more lessons I’ve personally learnt over the past four months of running this initiative:

  1. When the going gets tough, allow yourself to rest but never, never quit.
  2. Become obsessed about the things you want or risk spending a lifetime being obsessed with making excuses as to why you didn’t get the life you wanted.
  3. You are the common denominator in your experiences.
  4. Knowledge not shared is knowledge wasted.

Dear Class of 2021, congratulations on your graduation! I hope this “gift” helps you navigate your transition into your next phase of life to become the best version of yourself!


From the bottom of my heart, thank you, you, and you

The many kind messages of support and gratitude that came from friends, colleagues, my university and new LinkedIn connections over the past few months really came as pleasant surprises. It’s extremely encouraging to know that this initiative achieves its main objectives: empower internship and job seekers, and aspiring entrepreneurs and volunteers, as well as set an example that anyone is capable of making a positive impact.

Additionally, I’m extremely appreciative of the trust that the interviewees had placed in me to help them leave a digital footprint of their own and see the beauty of leveraging their experiences to inspire others.


A bittersweet pill to swallow

That’s what completing this series feels like. Hindsight is 2020 wouldn’t truly be what it is if I didn’t reflect on the experience running this social initiative and the people who were on this journey of self-development and giving back with me.

I knew that I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t share these learnings and let others benefit too. In fact, it is through adopting an attitude of giving that has also helped me better internalise these lessons. If you’ve benefited from this #HI2020 series, my little request is that you pay it forward and share the stories with someone who could use a “gift” like this too.

Keep learning, keep reflecting and keep improving your status quo!

Once again, thank you for all the support!



This article has been adapted from LinkedIn for republishing on The SMU Blog with permission. Learn more about Hindsight is 2020 here.

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