Why Jessica Lee is Back with Social Initiative Hindsight is 2020

By the SMU Social Media Team

Self-development for a greater good—this is what SMU Bachelor of Business Management Class of 2020 Graduate, Jessica Lee Yi Ling, is passionate about. As a fan of TED Talks, a knowledge-sharing series of talks helmed by experts in a wide range of topics, she loves the idea of spreading ideas worth sharing. As the co-Founder of a 2020 ground-up initiative Project Y to Z, and now Founder of Hindsight is 2020 (#HI2020), she hopes to encourage the community to take their learnings from 2020 to improve their status quo in 2021. Through a series of personal stories, she wishes to support and inspire internship and job seekers as well as aspiring entrepreneurs and volunteers.


Graduating into the Covid-19 pandemic

Upon arrival at the final lap of an intensive and rigorous education journey, Jessica’s much-awaited post-graduation plans were struck by the Covid-19 pandemic. Goodbye graduation trips, hello circuit breaker.

While Singapore’s unemployment rate climbed to its highest in a decade, many Class of 2020 graduates struggled to secure jobs. Coming together as a team, Jessica and two of her friends decided to dedicate their time to supporting and inspiring fellow graduating students through their ground-up initiative: Project Y to Z.

“I have been blessed with seniors, mentors, SMU professors and faculty, and my OCBC and Bank of Singapore colleagues, who generously shared their work and life experiences with me. Instead of keeping these learnings to myself, I wanted to continue paying it forward and share it with others who could stand to benefit from them too,” notes Jessica.

The team’s objective for Project Y to Z was to inspire graduating Gen Z-ers by sharing the past job search experiences of six 2008 graduates in Singapore who survived the Global Financial Crisis and lived to tell the tale. Having received positive feedback on Project Y to Z, it reaffirmed Jessica’s long-standing belief in the sharing of personal stories—that included specific examples, concrete actionable steps one could take to boost employability and learnings that stand the test of time—to help others.


Founding Hindsight is 2020 (#HI2020)

Back with Social Initiative #HI2020

2020 has proven to be a challenging year globally and from the way the story is unfolding, it is clear that 2021 would come with its fair share of challenges too. Although Project Y to Z had come to a close, Jessica is determined to give back again, this time by encouraging the community to take their learnings from 2020 to improve their status quo in 2021. This gave birth to her self-initiated social project, Hindsight is 2020 (#HI2020), a new series of personal stories centred on resilience, courage and love.

“In addition to empowering internship and job seekers to improve their status quos, I also wanted this social initiative to help encourage aspiring entrepreneurs and volunteers to pursue their passions in 2021,” remarks Jessica.

In times when the economic outlook is bleak, many have set themselves to “survival mode”. As the propensity for new ventures to fail seems high, many people have put aside pursuing their passions and dreams. There are also those who want to lend a helping hand but are under the false impression that it requires a lot of money and resources. These factors guided her decisions when curating content for the series.

One thing that Jessica was very clear about when selecting stories to feature was that the focus would not be on the successes of the interviewees. Rather, she wanted to highlight the key lessons and takeaways from both the ups and downs experienced in each of their unique journeys. To top it off, she compared the expectations and realities her interviewees experienced, and helped debunk myths some may have held. The #HI2020 stories needed to be authentic, relatable, and valuable.


Behind the scenes of #HI2020

While Jessica has had experience leading a skills-based community service programme and co-founding Project Y to Z in her time with SMU, nothing could have truly prepared her for this—solo starting and running a social initiative with zero funding.

“I hope to set an example that being able to contribute back to society—regardless of one’s resources—is more about having a willing heart and knowing how to play to one’s strengths,” shares Jessica.

Founding and running #HI2020 entailed more than writing and posting articles. Brainstorming outside of work hours, creating marketing collaterals, sourcing for and speaking with potential interviewees and partners—the list goes on. While running such a project does mean sacrificing free time to uncertain pay-offs, Jessica still thinks helping others is a privilege and an honour.

“Success is about becoming a better person everyday so that I can be in a better position to help others,” concludes Jessica.


This article was originally published on LinkedIn and has been adapted for republishing here with permission. Catch the first instalment of the Hindsight is 2020 series on The SMU Blog on 27 January 2021.

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