Networking for High School Students – Yes

As a recent high school graduate, I’ve just experienced the celebration and enthusiasm that is a product of moving out of school and into adult life. However most strikingly, I’ve witnessed the anxiety many of my peers feel about moving out of their comfort zone into a sea of responsibility and work. For most, the concept of creating opportunities and meeting new people is an exciting one however many are worried it is something they are unprepared for. Networking is one of the most crucial life skills, your networking ability will shape your friends, relationships and your career. Since secondary school is an institution designed to prepare individuals for adulthood and their profession, it’s a fatal flaw that an art so fundamental to these experiences is overlooked.

Whilst you might have the qualifications, dynamism, creativity and passion for a given job, simply stating this to a prospective employer is unlikely to secure you a position. Yet according to the teaching curriculum in place, our school leavers technically don’t know this. A major reason for anxiety about moving into the professional workforce is the great unknown in regards to working culture and how to establish oneself. It’s hard for a recent school leaver to enter a job interview or have a 10-15 second conversation with the boss without heavily doubting their actions. With no formal teaching about how to act in these situations, students will be unsure which creates doubt and leaves the student appearing a nervous wreck. Without confidence in these situations, it’s unlikely these recent high school students will be able to exhibit their full potential.

If anything the skill of networking has deteriorated in youth in past years. The offender in this case is ironically social networking itself; online. Facebook has become a copout in itself, kids see it as an opportunity to stay in touch and meet new ‘friends’, however the wit and confidence that is needed to formulate a computerized (and often misspelt) sentence could be performed be outdone by a chimpanzee. As the use of online social networking sites overruns real world interaction, our quality of communication is forfeited. Because we don’t leave our comfort zone behind the blue and white homepage of Facebook, there is not a lot of room for personal growth.  

There is a tendency for schools to neglect the teaching of ‘life skills’, perhaps it’s reasoning is akin to the old saying ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’. Ultimately the skill of networking will depend on the existing confidence and sociability of individuals, however providing students with a guide to this fine art will go a long way to improving their self-belief in these situations.