(P) The Value of Professional and Personal Networking

As our careers develop, we become increasingly aware of the value of our personal and professional networks. “Who you know, not what you know” plays out into opportunities and influence. We also become more conscious of how carefully and deliberately nurturing interpersonal relationships brings multiple flows on effects. It doesn’t take much to be friendly, to be empathetic, and to really listen to and engage with others. But wow! What a difference it makes!

We’ve all been teenagers, dealing with the awkward juggle of growing bodies, hormones, pushing for independence and recognition, worrying about the future, and trying to fit into complicated social worlds. Developmentally, teenagers struggle to be able to foresee the long-term future impact of their present choices. Teenagers aren’t the easiest animals to work with and sometimes we wonder if they are even listening to a word we are saying. Believe me, despite the disinterested body language and minimal dialogue, they are soaking up everything around them, fitting it into their rapidly evolving concept of the world and their place in it.

The committed members of the AISB Alumni Association wrapped up another great year of Grade 10 careers discussion, sending clear messages to their younger peers: “The International Baccalaureate prepares you well for university, you are part of a community and network that will be here for life, this network is active and seeking out ways to better support current AISB students, work hard at AISB because it is worth it, and it is important to make the most of all the opportunities outside the classroom.”

Embedded in their enthusiasm for AISB, the Alumni delivered believable and encouraging sentiments for our teenagers to value both the here and now experiences as well as to start to understand the strength of the community to which they belong. If we start seeding these appreciations in Grade 10 and consistently grow them in Grades 11 and 12, everyone benefits. The current students will be able to tangibly see the benefits of both their time at AISB and of the alumni network ahead of them, and the AA will be gaining proud, active and engaged members ready to reap the benefits of the alumni network.

As a career and university advisor, each year I run a workshop for Grade 11 students and parents to kick off the university search and application process. I can honestly say that the session in January of this year was one of the most pertinent and profound I’ve coordinated. It’s not because I’m getting better at my job, but because of the very real and relevant input by several members of the Alumni Association. University applications are stressful, and let’s be honest, despite being important and exciting for the future direction of our kids, presenting the topic can be a bit dry. Not last January! Many AISB alumni students not only outlined their individual journeys from their senior years at AISB to university and now into their early careers, but they also provided current and believable tips for both students and parents. Below are a few quotes from Grade 11 parents, attesting to the impact the AA made:

“I was impressed by their confident attitude. […]’s speech was well structured, organized and concise. This means that his upbringing, grafted on a good school background, gave wonderful results. Such meetings are useful because they provide information and give a sense of confidence that our children will succeed, too.”

“This was extra helpful especially because these students are now all working and have enough maturity to highlight exactly the aspects that most matter, how to tackle them best. Everybody tells us how not to panic, focus, and stick to the schedule, but their feedback and advice was even more detailed and helpful.”

“The meeting with AISB Alumni helped us to realize that there are countless possibilities and everyone has a chance without actually having to be ‘the perfect’ student. They also could give specific insight in terms of how their applications went. It truly helps us to support our own kids as much as we can, emotionally but also in terms of research.”

The Alumni Association parents continued this great work in the past school year, talking about the challenging period of preparing for sending their babies, the Class of 2015, off to university. This is quite a tough time for parents, who try to look brave as they bluff to match their child’s excitement and enthusiasm about leaving for the wide world beyond the family home. Many fears and concerns were discussed and alleviated. Many tips and strategies tabled for the eager parents. The sharing of experiences was rich, genuine and heartfelt, with a collective sigh of relief visibly noticeable as the parents departed, a little lighter and reassured.

Thanks and congratulations to the Alumni Association team for having such a wide ranging impact across the AISB community this year. All power to you as we set the sails for more and more engagement with the current AISB community.

Written by Tim Battersby, AISB High School Counselor and University Advisor

Adapted from Volume 4 Issue 1 of the AISB Alumni WORLD Magazine. Read this fantastic alumni-led publication here.

(p) – this article is an advertorial

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