Most of us will find ourselves at a crossroad at some point in our life. A place where one decision can fling your life in one direction or another. For Aileen Ng the crossroad came at the age of 25 in the form of a crisis of confidence in her future as a mechanical engineer.
Having dedicated years to pursuing education in STEM, it was understandably daunting when she realised that it was not STEM, but rather the arts that was calling her.
Aileen decided to take a leap of faith in herself and answered the call. Not long after she had embarked on her new path, she found the welcoming arms of the Y when she first submitted a piece of her art to the website and was paid for it. Aileen became a regular contributor to the WhyNot? campaign, eventually accepting an official role on the editorial committee, providing social media support, as well as illustrating many of the articles submitted.
WhyNot? is a campaign that aims to give a voice to the youth of Australia, and to raise up those who feel marginalised. For Aileen, this was the perfect vehicle to find her own voice in the world.
“WhyNot? really helped me launch my creative career. They empowered me to sustain myself through art and design. Having the support of the WhyNot? committee and the Y helped me grow and continue being creative,” said Aileen. “I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going, so having WhyNot? there as a platform where I could concentrate my interests helped lead me down my new pathway.”
Like many other programs under the Y, WhyNot? offers developmental opportunities. In Aileen’s case, WhyNot? allowed her to not only pursue a new creative career, but to flourish in her roles as a contributor and member of the editorial committee.
Thanks to the creative outlet provided by the Y, Aileen was able to turn her cross-roads moment into success, now working as a graphic designer at a digital consultancy firm while continuing her duties at WhyNot?. “It’s energizing because now I feel like I can create my own path,” Aileen explains.
But Aileen feels that it’s important for young people to know that the path won’t always be clear, and that that’s okay. She implores young people to resist external pressures and forge their own path in life instead.
“Society pushes you to go to university and do the ‘smartest degree’, and all the factors that people say is good for a job isn’t necessarily good for you,” Aileen explains. “It took me so long to figure that out and people should have the time to discover themselves. WhyNot? is important for young people discovering who they are.”
Aileen’s story began much like many others but thanks to her incredible sense of self-determination, coupled with the support and opportunity provided by the Y, her story has become one of the million moments that the Y exists to make possible. See more of her work and the work of many other talented young people (18-30) at whynot.org.au
“It’s okay to change your mind about what you want to do. And you should know that every young Australian is probably going through the same thing.”
– Aileen Ng, WhyNot illustrator and designer