When was the last time you felt a strong wave of disappointment?
Think back to that gut-wrenching moment when you were punched by your crippling self-doubt and wished there was a quicksand that could swallow you whole, never to be seen again.
Think back to the sleepless nights where you tossed in bed and went: “I can’t do this anymore.”
Was it a test where you scored your first D? Or was it a rejection letter from your dream university – the only university you’d been banking on?
Think back to how it made you feel.
The Road-Map To Success
Three years ago, Kelyn Tan graduated from Temasek Polytechnic and sailed through the Director’s List. She had a ticket to the great life and was off to a splendid start.
Yet, the anticipation came to a screaming halt when she found out she had been turned down by her schools of choice.
“I was really psyched about the next chapter of my life at a local university, but I wasn’t accepted into any that I applied. My confidence took a major hit,” Kelyn confesses.
Gap Year Guide
Kelyn lost direction and spent that year soaking in self-pity.
Fortunately, somewhere along that disorienting period of time, her resilience triumphed over her blue devils. It hit her – it was not too late to get back up.
“I realised that I could have used that year to do something more substantial – to improve myself and stay competitive,” Kelyn adds.
Knowing deep down she wasn’t alone in this mare’s nest, she decided to start a blog called Gap Year Guide to curate everything she had learned on what people could do to improve on themselves while away on sabbatical.
Gap Year Guide soon evolved into something much more.
It grew into a startup with a mission – a mission that aims to fire the enthusiasm of millennials in seeking opportunities to rediscover themselves and making their dreams a reality.
As might be expected, masterminding Gap Year Guide required a lot more than networking and time management.
Describing the process as a “wild ride”, Kelyn knew there was a lot of work to be done – and she was ready to buckle down to stay on course.
Even when it came to areas she had no experience in, such as digital marketing, the bread and butter of running a business in today’s world. “I turned to Google, books, and internships to get the knowledge and experience I wanted,” Kelyn says.
“I was able to take advantage of all the opportunities that were available, including overseas internships, subsidised study trips, and leadership experiences. They all come in handy.”
In the beginning, Kelyn wrestled with marking out her business. “I can still remember the struggles we had devising a sustainable business plan and the great satisfaction of clinching the first deal,” she reveals.
Luckily, it wasn’t a lonely ride, as the Singapore International Foundation had her back in funding and mentorship. Coupling that with careful planning, and Gap Year Guide was well on its way to the top.
“Weathering through doubts and dry spells is tough, but we get through it by mapping out detailed plans and realistic projections.”
Gap Year Guide is set to play an important role in millennials’ life.
In an article titled, ‘Are Young Graduates Wrong To Be Picky?’, Melissa Tal writes, “Millennials crave adventure and don’t like conforming to the status quo.”
More youngsters are jumping on the unconventional route, despite being told repeatedly that they’ll never make the cut. Something big is happening – these risk takers are choosing their passion over playing it safe.
And Gap Year Guide is making it their mission to stand behind them. A peek at their website shows an eclectic bunch of resources from combating social anxiety to a 22-year-old hiring mananger’s take on aceing a job interview.
“Our parents sing to the same tunes about studying hard to have a bright future. That was the case during their time, but now it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure a job with just a basic degree,” Kelyn explains.
“Millennials did what they were told to do, so why are they not living that future that they were ‘promised’?”
Kelyn’s sentiment echoes Celeste Headlee’s TED Talk on finding a mission, rather than looking for a job – the self-discovery journey requires a great deal of time and a lot of trials and errors.
“To sustain success, we need to choose scopes we are truly passionate and good at,” Kelyn says.
“We still very much believe in the traditional ways of education and professional growth. The way to create a paradigm shift is for people to start acting on their dreams, and support others while they are on it.”
Creating a startup like Gap Year Guide certainly fits the bill of an unconventional career. If you’re about to make a leap into the giant unknown, this is Kelyn’s advice:
“Don’t jump in blindly. Come out with a plan for what you want to do and achieve working around with all means. Start doing something now, it doesn’t have to be something huge. Start in any way you can. Be patient with yourself while you’re at it.”
The Future Lies Before You
Gap Year Guide is one of the next greatest startups in Singapore.
In the near future, the startup will be participating in creative collaborations with brands and providing more content to help mould the current culture in today’s world.
Last September, Gap Year Guide produced a Facebook video for The Projector, a beloved independent cinema owned by three Singaporean film buffs.
The campaign was a viral hit; it reached over 300,000 people organically in less than two weeks. A massive success, it indubitably banged the drum for the sui generis business.
Time and time again, folks like Kelyn have proved that hitting rock bottom and facing the great uncertainty about our future can be a powerful motivation tool.
And perhaps, this is what Gap Year Guide is doing all along – to show us we don’t have to see the whole path to make a start on our passion. All it takes is the first step, a little bit of nudging, and the grit to keep hustling.
Featured image credit: Kelyn Tan & Gap Year Guide